A message from the chairman

A message from the chairman

A message from the chairman

A message from the chairman

Dear Supporter,

Following lockdown three, it has felt strange not having to plan and prepare for a match day on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, or on a weekday evening during the winter period. No doubt like us you have all missed the unique atmosphere, buzz and excitement of matches, home and away, as we waited for news as to when football would resume.

Last week the Government set out the roadmap for recovery and the more optimistic amongst us were hopeful that football would resume at the end of March. Sadly, this optimism evaporated when The FA announced the curtailment of 2020/21 season, which whilst not surprising was disappointing.

This period in our lives has been very worrying and difficult for us all and it has been tough, particularly for those who have lost loved ones and their jobs. In combination, the vaccination programme and restrictions appear to be providing the much needed route out of the pandemic. It has been humbling to witness and experience the tremendous acts of human kindness that we have all seen – by pulling together we continue to meet the challenges we all face.

Reflecting back to the competitive football we enjoyed for around three months in between lockdowns one and two, one couldn't help but be reminded of the fantastic effort of our staff and volunteers to make The Step Places Stadium safe enough to enable the return of fans - having fans back at Brookburn Road in September gave us all a huge boost. Our men's and women's first teams made great starts to their respective seasons and at the point of curtailment were well positioned to kick on when football resumed. Their success has been built on excellent team work, a key feature of how we have managed the club during the pandemic on and off the pitch.

One of the challenges for Chris and Nathan was to keep their squads fit, well prepared and ready for the resumption. They spent many hours preparing and delivering training sessions in difficult circumstances which paid off. This hard work and experience will not be lost though, and we anticipate that the high bars set this past season will ultimately prove fruitful in the coming campaign. We now turn our attention to plan for the new season, including exploring options and opportunities for a series of friendlies and possibly small tournaments for all our adult teams.

Behind the scenes the West Committee and our small number of volunteers had worked tirelessly during last summer to make our ground as COVID-19 safe as possible, and to maintain our club house and stadium. Obtaining approval to allow spectators in to watch our friendlies in August was the precursor to our men's First Team opening their campaign against Bury AFC in the FA Vase, and we were rewarded with a great team performance, a famous win and a piece of football history.

The restrictions on the number of spectators allowed into our ground – 300 – has been very difficult to manage. Our match day operations have been military-like, with club officials and volunteers dedicating their precious time to make the stadium safe and give our fans the best experience possible. We rely heavily on a very small number of volunteers and there is still a lot of work to do, for example, sorting out the surface water on the service road near to the turnstile. If you are able to offer any help as a volunteer please contact Rob, our club secretary on

Before lockdown three we had reached 130 season ticket holders – a club record – and the landmark highlights the extent of the demand for tickets to watch West. In some games we would have definitely set new attendance records had limits not been in place. Initially, we tried pay at the gate entry, but having to turn away 100+ fans when we reached our 300 maximum wasn’t a good feeling. This is why we moved to all ticket and that appears to have worked well for us, and we will look at this again as part of our planning for next season. As has previously been noted, the club will be in contact with season ticket holders very soon to layout the options for their ticket(s).

The pandemic put the club under huge financial pressure as revenue streams dried up. One of the best decisions we made was to reopen the online club shop – the new home kit was the catalyst for this as we knew the new design would generate a lot of interest from fans. Merchandising and the West brand is really important to us in terms of our football and community activity, and the sales of shirts, face coverings and ticket sales have been incredible – thank you.

Sponsorship is also hugely important to West. We have high ambitions and we rely on our sponsors to help match those on and off the pitch, so we are extremely grateful to our established and new sponsors for their financial support during these difficult times. Given the current financial climate, our commercial team did a fantastic job in securing kit sponsorship deals with JP & Brimelow and Woodyatt Warner for our men's kit, and Didsbury Blues and Eckersley's Plumber's and Locksmith's for our women's kit.

The arrival of the new kit was made even more special because it was chosen by our fans. The women's first and reserves teams, and the veterans, will be wearing the new home kits too - we are very grateful for the help and support provided by our kit supplier SK Kits.

Although we have increased the number of pitch board sponsors, one area we are really keen to improve and enhance is our match day and match ball sponsorships. These are both good value packages and we welcome businesses and individuals who would be interested in this when we resume football to get in touch. Details of our commercial packages can be found by clicking here.

We were also delighted to secure a two-year deal with The Christie – our world-class expert neighbours in cancer care and research. The aim of this partnership is to raise much needed funds for The Christie Charitable Fund, whose funding like many other charities has been affected during the pandemic. As well as donating £1 from all replica shirt sales, we will also be running a number of fundraising events when restrictions are eased. Christie Bear also arrived in the clubhouse last September and is a fun way to donate to the charity via contactless payment! Having The Christie emblem on our home shirt is another way of the club showing its support for this incredible cause. We will soon be auctioning an unused ticket stub 001 from the Bury AFC game, plus the West commemorative pennant exchanged we exchanged with the new club. All proceeds from this auction will go towards The Christie.

I was also pleased that the club and our fans continued their great community efforts with local organisations such as Reach Out to the Community and Barakah Food Aid. It’s been a challenging year for many in so many ways, and the great work these organisations do is a credit to the South Manchester area and a real life line, and the club look forward to continuing to assist and aid their efforts over the coming months and into next season.

The positive feedback received from fans about the standard of our main pitch, which withstood several bands of torrential rain in October, was very welcome. During the summer we repaired and installed drainage on the main pitch and installed new drainage on Hardy Farm. The quality and standard of the main pitch is the best I have seen at West and justifies our financial investment – our ground contractor Boz has done a great job in improving the pitch.

We will soon start planning for the 2021/22 season in earnest, and we hope the restrictions will be lifted sufficiently in time to start the new season with no capacity limits for matches. The FA are also aiming to conduct a review of the pyramid structure at steps 4-6 and we will be keeping a close eye on how that develops and the impact it may have on us.

We will also be continuing our grounds, club house and stadium programme of work, so please do volunteer if you are able to help.

Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to seeing you back at The Step Places Stadium very soon.

Steve Eckersley
West Chair