Difficulties faced by Wearside football team Washington FC after Covid-19 pandemic
Written by Soteris Kyriacou on 6th May 2022
Spark investigates the post-Covid-19 pandemic era damage to Washington FC and how they survived financially and practically.
The Covid-19 era in the 21st century created many problems in the football world especially in small teams like Washington, where most of their revenue comes from their sponsors and fans. So, someone can easily understand how difficult it was for them to financially stay stable and healthy when there were no fans and sponsorships. Washington FC is a team in the Wearside league division one in the North East. They told Spark about the difficulties they faced after the pandemic of Covid-19, the damage the club has faced, the economic stability of the club and their plans for the future.
From a financial perspective it is not even a question if and how badly small football clubs have been damaged. Ryan Browell, chairman of the club, touches upon one of the elements that shows the damage that has been done which is sponsorship.
Ryan said: “There was a lack of crowd attraction and loss of income from that. It’s hard to attract sponsors when a lot of businesses weren’t operating or not doing well due to the pandemic and the restrictions imposed.
“Generally, I don’t think there’s any franchise that hasn’t been affected throughout and after the Covid-19 pandemic and Washington Fc is not an exception. During Covid, sponsorship was difficult as we did not have the ability to offer the usual packages, and a lot of the local businesses were struggling and not able to put money towards sponsorships,” said Ryan.
It’s not only in football though but many other businesses have been impacted in different ways.
According to the Economics Observatory: “Industries that rely on personal interactions or travel have been hardest hit. This includes recreational services, such as gyms, sports, accommodation, and food services (pubs, cafes and restaurants), where sales were more than 50% lower than normal in the past year due to Covid-19.”
However, except the financial problems, Washington has been impacted “on the pitch” as well. Firstly, it was extremely difficult to locate players and convince them to come to the club with the players being away for so long. Also, for the coach team to find the right players and characters for their team with players not training and play for two seasons.
Jake Hannah, Washington FC assistant manager said: “Throughout the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult to keep in touch with players and build a solid squad.”
Another headache that the coach mentioned was the injuries that they suffered a lot in the pre-season and after because at, that time the intensities were so high, and the players were unused to them or away from them for long.
Cameron Thompson, Washington FC head manager said: “A lot of people have been not doing anything for a long period, so the fact that players came back for the pre-season where was fitness and technical work, a lot of lads found it difficult. So we have to split the high-intensity sessions.”
As a consequence of all these technical and practical problems, the teams have been impacted in their first game of the season on the pitch as well. It was like the behind the scenes problems in natural presence. Washington FC was always in the top position in the league table. Now, as the season is coming to an end, they find themselves in the bottom five. No one could imagine this three years ago.
Jake added: “It has had a negative impact on us from a club perspective because we couldn’t do things we wanted to do. I can say that our league position this season for sure frustrates us, and we obviously don’t like it but I’m sure this will help us a lot in the future, and it was a tough but big experience at the same time.
“In terms of the future, the coaching staff are so optimistic that things will go right on and off the pitch next season. I would like to think the pandemic would be having even less impact next season and hopefully allows the club to begin building links to the fanbase and local community without as much disruption.
“I’m sure next season things and situations will be better for us, and we will have an also better position in the league. Also, I’m optimistic that there will be no restrictions and lockdowns again so our fans can come and support the lads as they always used to.”
When it comes to the club’s financial situation, Ryan Browell, the chairman of the club, mentions that he is optimistic both for the team on the pitch and also financially that the club will not be in the same situation.
“We have managed to secure a two year deal with a large local sponsor which can’t be named now and is good for us and we hope that more will come by the time and we will be in place to support our first team and academies in the best way possible to achieve their goals and to grow more as a club.”