Following the Bluebirds promotion to the Football League, Paul Hornby has provided a comprehensive update to supporters.
It seems like a lifetime ago that we stopped playing football, but I’m so proud to say the words we are National League Champions and we are marching back into the Football League. I’m so pleased, not only for the club, but for the town and wider community as everyone has contributed to this promotion.
How ironic, that after 48 years of hurt when we were cruelly voted out, it is again a voting system that confirmed our fate.
However, on this occasion it was thoroughly deserved. We’ve played some scintillating football and our statistics in and out of possession coupled with the fact we led the table for many months showed us to be deserving champions. I’m sure we all have great memories from the 19/20 season but my own personal favourite was the comeback against Torquay. The passion in the commentary from Adam and John epitomised how this town and supporters have got behind Ian and the team.
We said when we came into the club less than 2 years ago that we wanted to re-connect with the supporters and this couldn’t have gone any better. Your support has been fantastic, breaking records going back to the 1970’s. This support has not only been through the turnstiles but also through the constant giving via the Supporters Trust. We are truly grateful for this.
Everyone has pulled together to make this dream possible, from the Trust and volunteers to the staff at the club. The relationship with The Trust has been a real success and they play an active part in the management of our club. The funds they have raised over their period of ownership has been staggering and the unique ideas have been tremendous.
I’d also like to say a big thank you to the players and management team. It’s always great to have a championship on your CV but this is extra special. Against all the odds we’ve achieved the impossible dream and your names will go down over future years, decades and more as Barrow legends. I appreciate all the travel that’s involved and the sacrifices you guys make – it doesn’t go unnoticed by us all.
Finally, we need to thank our manager Ian Evatt. He’s been the catalyst to bringing this great club back to life. He’s brought a Football League standard of football to non-league, the likes of which has never been seen before and it’s no exaggeration to say that he’ll now go down as Barrow’s greatest ever manager. This has been a 2 year project to get the team in place, conditioned, prepared and with his constant demand for perfection we were simply unplayable at times. The exciting thing is that Ian and the nucleus of this team will move forward with us and we’ll try and replicate the blueprint of teams that have gone before to go again.
Financially the COVID-19 has cost us £100,000. We’ve taken advantage of all the Government help but we go into League 2 with no football creditors, no monies owed to HMRC and no hard core debts. We lost £850,000 last year but it’s all been funded by the owners and we are in a robust financial position. We hope to half this deficit in 20/21 and that includes the construction of the Holker End roof which everyone is so excited about.
Next year we are committed to more ground developments. Kristian Wilkes, along with Bridgewater Developments, has worked tirelessly getting the ground ready for the Football League and they deserve a big thank you. Without them we wouldn’t be in this position as they’ve had many hurdles thrown at them. The fan zone is now nearing completion, the changing rooms need to be moved under the main stand and the stewards / first aiders will move inside the main building too.
It’s been a tough few months and I hope everyone has stayed safe. As a group of owners we’ve been purposely quiet as we wanted to be respectful in the current crisis. There was a lot of self-interest noise from clubs but we just had to put our faith in the football authorities. We always knew football would come again and its a really exciting time to be a Bluebird. We can’t have the celebrations we would have had in normal circumstances, but enjoy the moment and just watch us go next season!
Thanks for all of your support and we’ll see you soon.