This is why South Shields' next two festive fixtures have been postponed

South Shields FC have announced their next two fixtures over the festive period have been postponed.
Geoff Thompson.Geoff Thompson.
Geoff Thompson.

It follows the announcement that clubs playing games on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day were to be given the choice over whether to complete those fixtures amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Shields took the opportunity to postpone Whitby Town at home on Boxing Day, while Scarborough Athletic have postponed the away game on January 1.

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The club say they are aware fans may have mixed views but insist they have a ’responsibility to think of not just the next two games, but the next 200, 2,000 and more.’

The club insist it is ‘simply unviable’ under the Tier 3 restrictions ‘for us to host fixtures in these circumstances without financial support from the government in the form of grants’.

The South Shields FC statement in full: “Following an announcement by the Pitching In Northern Premier League that playing league fixtures on Boxing Day and New Year's Day was to be made optional, the club wishes to update supporters as to its stance.

Whilst we remain fully committed to doing everything we reasonably can to help ensure the 2020-21 season does not reach the same deeply unsatisfactory conclusion as 2019-20, we will not jeopardise the long-term health of our club.

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It is with that in mind that we have decided to exercise our right to postpone our home league fixture against Whitby Town on December 26th. We have also been informed that our league trip to Scarborough Athletic on January 1st has been postponed by the home club.

We recognise that many supporters may have mixed feelings about this. After all, we are a football club and playing games of football is our business. It brings joy to our players, staff, volunteers, sponsors, supporters and shareholders.

As custodians of this great club, though, we have a responsibility to think of not just the next two games, but the next 200, 2,000 and more.

We have to ensure that our club survives such unprecedented circumstances and is in a position to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

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This has already been a season which has provided mountainous financial challenges, with four of our five home league fixtures so far having been played in front of a maximum capacity of just 300 spectators, while the other game was restricted to an attendance of 600. When it is considered that our average league attendance last season was 1,671, it is a statement of the obvious to declare that our revenues have taken a hugely significant blow.

We now face the additional pressure of living with Tier 3 restrictions, which severely limit the potential for secondary spend on food and drinks on matchday. It is simply unviable for us to host fixtures in these circumstances without financial support from the government in the form of grants, and we understand this is also the case for a large number of our fellow Northern Premier League clubs.

That the club has hurdled the considerable challenges of the last nine months is in no small part down to the magnificent backing we have received from our supporters, who have raised significant funds and purchased almost £380,000 worth of shares to safeguard and brighten our future. We have a responsibility to ensure those funds are invested in the correct manner and are not gambled with.

It has been a source of huge regret for us that a large section of our fanbase has been unable to watch the team in action so far this season because of the restrictions in place.

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The supporters are the beating heart of this club and every decision we make is with them in mind. We hope you can understand why we feel we must postpone our Boxing Day game and desperately hope we can welcome you ALL along to a match again in the not too distant future.

Thank you for the incredible support you have given us during what has been a bleak year for so many people in so many ways. It inspires us and we know there are brighter days ahead as we move into 2021.

We wish all of our magnificent supporters, volunteers, sponsors, players, staff, shareholders and friends the happiest Christmas possible and hope to see you all in the new year.”