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08 Apr 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 11

Runcorn Linnets Juniors

It was great to see all the Little Linnets back at the Millbank for their games this weekend and please indulge me while I tell you that my son Jack got man of the match for his Under 8s team in their 2-2 draw and he also scored which may seem more impressive when I tell you he is a goalkeeper!

Akidamey restarts on the 11th and I'll be there to welcome them all back to the Millbank, it's always great to see all the little ones having so much fun.

Runcorn Linnets Under 18s and Under 21s

Our Under 18s played Runcorn Town at the Millbank and won 3-2, they raced into a 3-0 lead before being pegged back but held on to the win. So well done to Gibbo and his team, I'll try to get myself to some of your games in future.

I had the privilege of being in attendance for the Under 21s game against St. Helens Town as a club official. It was a very tight game with the Linnets playing some good football and they eventually got a 3-2 win. Well done to Ste Chaney and his team, I look forward to seeing more of your games.

Ground Development

At the start of the implementation of the COVID-19 restrictions the club was successful in applying for a 7000 grant for COVID-19 measures, the majority of which was to pay for additional terracing to make social distancing easier.

Work has begun on building this terracing on the other side of the goal from the existing terracing. The reason I am telling you all now is because I can guess some of the questions that will be asked when fans return and see that we have built an uncovered terrace.

I am aware that we desperately need another covered stand at the far end of the ground. Unfortunately, the grant can only be spent on terracing and cannot be used to provide cover, so the decision was made to build a terrace of a similar size to the existing terrace but without the cover.

Building a new stand at the far end is a club priority but it must be planned properly and will cost more than 7000.

Pre-Season Planning

Peter Cartledge and I have met with Calum and Colin and plans for pre-season are well underway. The players are due back soon for pre-season and I have to say I am really looking forward to seeing them all.

We are determined to make sure that Calum and the team have everything they need for the start of next season, so we have arranged for pitch works to start week commencing the 19th April so that the pitch will be available earlier than usual.

As always, thank you for reading this update, stay safe and I'll see you all when the Linnets are back.

Dave Jones

Chairman - Runcorn Linnets FC

01 Apr 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 10

Runcorn Linnets Juniors

It was great to see all the Little Linnets back at the Millbank this week, it's been far too long since I've heard the sound of kids playing football. I'll be there myself on Thursday to help coach my son's Under 8s team and I can't wait to get back out there.

Although no spectators are allowed yet apart from parents/guardians, it is a step in the right direction for football and it won't be long until we can welcome you all back.

2021/22 League Start Date

The NPL have provided us with an update on the start of the league season. It will start on Saturday 14th August 2021.

Providing there are no disruptions to the league schedule, the league season will be completed at the end of April, with play-offs being staged over the Bank Holiday weekend. However, the season could be extended to 31st May if required.

Now we have a start date, Calum and Colin can start to properly plan their preseason. We will begin to announce our preseason friendlies as they are confirmed.

National League System Restructure

Discussions around when the long-awaited league restructure happen are continuing. A potential roadmap to implement the additional division at Step 4 (which the NPL will manage) plus further re-organisation at Steps 5 7 (as any new division at Step 4 will need to be supplemented by clubs from Step 5), in time for next season, has been tabled and the FA Executive given feedback.

I personally think the restructure will happen before the start of next season as Steps 5-7 are keen for it happen sooner rather than later.

Although any restructure will not necessarily make our league any easier it will make travelling to away games easier and more affordable, both for the club and the fans. It is certainly something that I as Chairman, would support.

Financial Support

More financial support for businesses have been announced in the last week. We have already applied for a restart grant provided by Halton Borough Council which is available to all businesses affected by the lockdown and we are waiting to hear back from them.

The next round of the Winter Survival Fund grants has been announced and we have been told that the application process will be much less onerous than the last round of funding. Once the applications are open, we will have a look to see if we qualify for a grant and apply if we do.

Although our costs are massively reduced when we are not playing, we have lost out on additional income from the bar and pitch hire, so we will apply for any grant support that we qualify for.

Ground Improvements

Work is nearly complete on making the compound safe and improving the overall look of the area from the turnstile to the pitch area. All the volunteers have worked very hard over the last few weeks and the place is unrecognisable. I don't want to be repeating myself all the time but I don't think I could ever thank the volunteers enough, they are giving up their free time pretty much every day to help transform the club and it is very much appreciated by myself and the rest of the board.

There is other work planned, both inside and out but I will update you all on that when we are a bit further along with them.

As always, thank you for reading this update and I am happy that I no longer have to say stay home but still want you all to stay safe, so I can see you all when the Linnets are back.

Dave Jones

Chairman - Runcorn Linnets FC

25 Mar 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 9

Runcorn Linnets Ladies

With the recent announcements, tiers 3-6 of the Women's Football Pyramid including the Ladies NWWRFL have been curtailed indefinitely for the 2020/21 season, as a team/club we are working with the respective league to see what can be put in place between the end of March and mid-May to get the Ladies team playing some form of competitive football again.

Government announcements have confirmed we can return to training as of end of March; therefore, the Ladies team will resume training at the Millbank from Wednesday 31st March, any new players will always be made welcome.

The players have been away from football for a while and a few players have confirmed they will not be returning, with the intention of pursuing other options and Coach Lee Buckley, in his second spell with the team, stepped down earlier this year during lockdown to concentrate on his work commitments and family, as a club we wish those players and Lee all the best for their futures.

Team Manager John Pickering underwent hip replacement surgery during March 2021, putting him out of action for up to 12 weeks and we wish him well with his recovery. During John's rehabilitation Assistant Manager James Sidwell and Ladies Media Officer Neil Thornton will take charge of training etc. until John is fit enough to return, although John is very keen to bring in a new long-term coach to replace Lee. If you are interested in this position, please contact the club.

Over the coming weeks as things develop, we will keep everyone informed of new developments that will affect the Ladies team, as we continue to look forward to the future and implement preparations for the 2021/22 season.

Linnets in the Community

Representatives of the club met with the local police and they have provided the club with a Bleeding Control Kit which can be used to treat a knife wound until the emergency services arrive. We obviously hope we never have need to use it but it is always best to be prepared for the worst. We also discussed hosting a football tournament ran by the police during the summer, more details will be released on this at a later date. It was a very productive meeting and we will be working more closely with the police and other community partners in the future.

Halton is the 2021 Borough of Culture and we will be submitting a funding bid to the council that will allow us to work with local schools to create a community garden at the Millbank to celebrate this event.

Community Engagement Manager Josh Christian and Vice Chairman Peter Cartledge represented the club at a community clean up event with local residents, police, and councillors where over 50 bags of rubbish were collected from around Gorsewood Primary School and the surrounding area. Another event will be arranged to take place around the Millbank, the Queen of Hearts pub, and the surrounding woods, in the coming weeks. If you would like to get involved with Linnets in the Community or have any ideas or requests then please contact us below.

Linnets in the Community

Runcorn Linnets Academy

The Runcorn Linnets Academy have recommenced their studies at the ground in the last week and it is great to see them back. I also took part in a recruitment Zoom call with prospective students and their parents/guardians to tell them a little bit about the club, what we can offer them and what the club expects from anyone who represents Runcorn Linnets. It would be great to see more local players making their way through the ranks at the Linnets to play for the first team and hopefully earn themselves a move to a league club.

It is also very important to me that anyone who represents Runcorn Linnets feels that they are part of a club and part of the Linnets family.

As always, thank you for reading this update, keep well and stay safe.

Dave Jones

Chairman - Runcorn Linnets FC

18 Mar 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 8

Annual General Meeting

The club's AGM took place online on Thursday 11th March and I want to thank everyone who attended and everyone who took part in the online voting.

It wasn't ideal that we had to hold the event online and I hope we don't have to again but it was essential to hold the AGM before the end of March so we could meet our mandatory obligations.

For anyone who was unable to attend, we will hopefully be able to send out a recording of the event to all Trust members. I must warn you all though, it is just an hour of me talking!

Groundshare Approach

In the interest of transparency and keeping Trust members informed of important decisions that the board make on your behalf, I wanted to inform you that we received a request to groundshare.

The request came from a club in the NPL North West Division. The request was discussed with Calum and the board and then Peter Cartledge and I met with representatives of the club who made the request.

After weighing up all the pros and cons of the request and taking into account Calum's opinion on the subject, I recommended to the board that we should decline the request and the board were unanimous in supporting that recommendation.

Due to commercial confidentiality I am unable to discuss the specific financial aspects of the offer, however their starting offer meant we didn't feel we could negotiate an agreement that would make the groundshare worthwhile.

If anyone would like to discuss this issue with me, then please use the Chat with the Chairman link under Contact Us on the club website and I will share what I can.

Compound Works

As many of you will have seen from the pictures shared on Twitter, the compound work is at an advanced stage, so I thought I would share the plans with you all.

The whole compound has been cleared of any rubbish, the trees have been cut back, all the old fencing has been removed, the path that runs alongside the players tunnel has been extended, the two containers have been moved to run along the edge of the compound and the portacabin containing the manager's office and the new clubshop has been moved to run parallel with the main building. The next stage is to install new fencing, landscape the entire area and then finish with a fresh coat of paint.

Work on the compound was long overdue and it was apparent that it needed more than just a bit of a tidy up. Not only will this work make the compound look much better, it will finally make the compound safe and ensure the safety of our volunteers who enter the compound.

The Grounds Maintenance team have put in many hours of hard work and I would like to thank each of them for that hard work, it is very much appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Keep well, stay safe and I'll see you all soon.

Dave Jones

Chairman - Runcorn Linnets FC

11 Mar 2021 : Chairman's Update - Week 7

Season Tickets

As I'm sure you are already aware, the Runcorn Linnets Trust Board made the decision to rollover all 2020/21 season tickets to the 2021/22 season. The last year or so has been a difficult time for the club with two prematurely ended seasons and during that time our fans have been amazing and we wanted to reward those fans who pay for a season ticket and didn't get to see a full season of football.

Without our fans there is no Runcorn Linnets Football Club and we want you all to know how important you are to us. We will hopefully be announcing some more season ticket initiatives in the coming months to get more fans inside the Millbank.

Floodlights

The time has finally come when I can say this is the last time I will talk to you about floodlights! The broken bulb has been replaced and the capacitors have been replaced on all the floodlight columns, so we don't have a repeat of the floodlight outage or the fire that it caused.

When football returns to the Millbank, all floodlights will be working and hopefully we won't have any need for temporary floodlights again.

Runcorn Linnets Ladies

As Monday was International Women's Day, I wanted to say a few words about our Ladies team. They are an important part of Runcorn Linnets Football Club and we are very proud of all their achievements, including gaining promotion to the North West Women's Regional League, Division 1 South last season.

The new Hybrid Pitch has allowed them to play their home games at the Millbank where they belong, and I have enjoyed watching them play there. Their contribution to the club is about more than just on the pitch though. They are always willing volunteers when called upon, they treat fans, volunteers and club officials with respect and they always represent the club well.

I look forward to seeing the team develop under John Pickering and his coaching team, I'm sure there are great things to come from them.

Chat with the Chairman

As I have said a few times, our fans are really important to this football club and I want you all to feel involved, appreciated and above all, heard. So, I want to hear from you. Whether you have a question you want to ask me or you have a suggestion you want to put to me, please get in touch.

Use the below link to get in touch and I will reply to you personally.

Request to chat

Football Returning

We are slowly getting closer to the end of COVID-19 restrictions and when we can welcome you all back to the Millbank. We hope you will all be surprised and happy with some of the changes we have made and plan to make.

Calum will be confirming his preseason plans once we know what is happening with the pitch, but the league season is due to begin either the 7th or 14th August.

Until then, stay safe and stay well.

Dave Jones

Chairman - Runcorn Linnets FC

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