The uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division outfit will be without a game until at least April after competition bosses suspended all fixtures up to and including March 31. But the enforced break looks likely to last a lot longer and the club have already postponed a youth tournament they were set to host on the weekend of May 9-10. This alone would have generated a four-figure sum for Ardley, while they will also miss out on matchday revenue while the suspension is in place.
Chairman Ian Feaver acknowledged many things are more important than football while the country deals with the virus, but admitted the situation limited their options.
“Clubs aren’t going to register for a tournament they don’t know when it’s going to happen. The sensible option is not to do that now,” he said. “It’s difficult times, everything’s coming to a standstill. We can’t even get the community together. We’ve got a real close-knit club, so we’re going to have to miss each other for a while.”
Even Ardley’s day-to-day business has been affected, with Feaver revealing he had cancelled meetings with committee members and potential sponsors since the league was suspended on Friday. All senior and youth football at the club is on hold following the Oxfordshire FA’s advice to postpone all grassroots football ‘for the foreseeable future’.
And the Ardley chief is not expecting any action at the Nolan Oils Ground anytime soon. He said: “I hope the leagues are able to finish their seasons, rather than stop where they are. We just don’t know how long this is going on for. I can’t see that we’re going to be back playing on the 31st. It looks like the measures of social distancing are going to carry on for a lot longer.”
The club are keen to increase their presence in the community and want to add three extra junior sides, an under 14 girls’ team and a development team to their armoury next season. With the government advising against social gatherings Ardley cannot physically bring people together, but Feaver hopes they can nonetheless help lift spirits at a difficult time.
He said: “We’re more concerned about people’s health and welfare – football pales into insignificance. It puts everything into perspective and unfortunately the worst is yet to come. Those of us who can get about have a duty to help the elderly people at the club. We’ll certainly be putting the message out that everyone needs to look out for each other.”