First things first (and spoiler alert): I am going off script for a moment, and writing about something that does not directly have to do with Celtic. Though in the recent hubbub and statement maelstrom that has marked Scottish football over the last couple of weeks, this may be a welcome respite.
In addition, while this is not directly Celtic-related, I hope that it resonates with the Hoops and with its fans as much, if not more, than it did with me. I think that Brother Walfrid would look down on this club from his heavenly perch and nod in approval.
“This club” is Nairn County FC, which ended up in 8th in the Highland League when play stopped for Coronavirus. With no prospect of restarting play any time soon, the club has focused its attention on the community, as outlined in its club statement on its Web page.
It starts: “Bill Shankly once said that football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that. Mr Shankly was wrong. It is a trying time for the Club, the town and the Country as a whole. In this regard we are aware we have not just football but also wider responsibilities.”
Statement author, NCFC Secretary Ian Finlayson, continues with talking about how the season ended and how resumption of the games is not likely for the foreseeable future, before revealing that the club’s board has “budgeted over these years to make allowance for tougher times, placing at the sage guidance of our Treasurer, some monies from transfers, sponsors and other income away to safeguard our future.
“The Rainy Days have come and we are ready for them. We can confirm today that wages will continue to be paid in full to all our players and staff and that we will continue to meet our due bills and costs.”
Hmm. A club with a good financial footing and sound financial practices. Sounds like one of Glasgow’s Premier League clubs . . .
But wait, there’s more.
“Now to our wider responsibilities. When we were in financial trouble several years ago, we asked the community for help and the community responded. We remember this and now it is our turn to repay this debt.”
This “debt repayment” by NCFC appears to be twofold: It involves deals with sponsors and local businesses so they are not left short in the wake of the current crisis, and using their social media channels for “advertising our local business sponsors and encouraging people to shop local and to consider making future bookings and buying vouchers now for local Hotels, hostelries, pubs and restaurants and all others to get some much needed cashflow into local business.”
And to the fans?
“With regards to our fans and the community as a whole. Well, we are not playing football for the foreseeable future, so if we can help on a Saturday with anyone in self isolation, be it picking up your shopping, getting your prescription to you or even just walking the dog, drop us a message or give us a call and we will sort something out for you.
“Nobody knows how long this virus will be with us, it could be a long haul, but we want you to know that your Club is with you. You have supported us, now its our turn to do the same for you.”
You have supported us, now it’s our turn to do the same for you.
Every club should have this attitude regarding its fans, and every club should realize its importance in the communities they serve by following NCFC’s lead in this regard.
Many have — Celtic certainly has with donations to the wider community at several levels during the crisis — but some haven’t.
So bravo to the maize and black of The Wee County, and know you’ve earned yourself a new fan 5,000 miles away.