Following my message last week, we are all navigating the reality of school closures and home schooling, and the strict government lockdown measures announced on Monday evening. It is difficult and unsettling for all of us.
Rugby has rightly paused for a period, as the focus turns to the welfare of everyone in the community, and resources are focused on the public services who are working tirelessly to cope with those directly affected by the coronavirus.
Whilst the clear intention of the league and the clubs is to get back to playing rugby as soon as possible, the financial impact on all clubs in the league is significant and immediate.
In this unprecedented landscape, I can confirm that we have taken the difficult decision to ask all players and staff to support the Club by agreeing a 25% reduction of salary, effective from April 1st 2020. This reduction will not apply to our lower-earning members of staff and players, and we will ensure that we support our people where they are facing serious financial difficulty.
The decision will remain under constant review, whilst we wait to start playing rugby again.
The response of everyone at the Club has been amazing, there is a deep desire to come through this period of uncertainty together and to emerge stronger as a Club, which we will.
Since last week we have taken the decision to close our training facilities at Farleigh, and our operations at the Rec. All of our staff are set up for home working, whether that is home-training for players or remote home-based operations for our ticket office staff.
Whilst the nature of our operation has temporarily changed, the commitment of everyone at the Club to support you and those members of our community in need is brilliant.
Once there is clarity from Premiership Rugby regarding postponed fixtures we know we will be speaking with many of you on the phone. In the meantime our staff have been calling our supporters, focusing initially on those more vulnerable supporters to provide a friendly voice and see if help is needed.
Our community team are creating content to help parents dealing with the challenges of home-schooling. Stuart Hooper and other coaching staff and players are creating video messages for supporters for whom rugby is a significant part of their life.
We have also encouraged staff to use part of their working week to support their local community and to volunteer to support the NHS where possible and where they can.
We have an unbelievably passionate, dedicated and committed team of staff and players who all care deeply for the Club and our community. I cannot thank them enough for their support and sacrifice at this time.
Likewise to all our loyal and passionate supporters, we all thank you more than ever for your backing at this time.
We will emerge from this crisis, and we will savour the moment when we all come together for rugby at the Rec. Until then, please stay safe and look after those around you.