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It’s been 114 days since a ball was kicked at Selhurst Park. Tonight will be an occasion like no other in our stadium, but I know you’ll all be with the players in spirit whilst watching at home.
It is hard to know where to begin. Of course it is absolutely fantastic to see football back in this country, with a phenomenal amount of work behind the scenes from the Premier League and our staff to get the games back on in the safest environment possible.
I sincerely hope that being able to watch football will lift everyone after a hugely concerning and challenging time for us all.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible virus. We sadly lost three serving staff members in recent months: Ian Reynolds, John Griffin and Michael Kilby. Our sincerest thoughts go out to their families and indeed to our supporters who have also lost loved ones.
As you will see tonight, we have paid tribute in the stands and on our shirts to our magnificent NHS service and staff who deserve every ounce of praise and thanks that they have received during this crisis.
We also proudly show our support for the important Black Lives Matter movement. We would not be the club we are today without the contribution of outstanding black footballers, coaches and staff; we are proud to be a club that is open to all - on the pitch, in the stands and in our offices. We have a zero-tolerance policy on any form of racism. Very importantly we also recognise that we can do more to better reflect our diverse community and this is something that we will be working on in the coming months and years.
Throughout this crisis, I am immensely proud of the various ways we have been able to offer support to people in need around us. I would like to thank all of our staff who have worked to provide thousands of meals to local people in need, those who have arranged rest space for London Ambulance staff on duty, and everyone who phoned more than 1,200 Season Ticket holders over the age of 70 to check they were okay and offer support.
I would also like to commend the staff and players who have also been exemplary in their behaviour and dedication as well as donating generously to local and national causes or to efforts in their home countries.
I hope you will have seen the news that our Academy plans are underway, and I’d like to thank those Season Ticket holders and match ticket holders who transferred their refund towards the project, becoming Academy Founder Members in the process. Our ambition is to achieve Category 1 status as soon as possible to help us attract, recruit and retain the best footballing talent in the area. Your support will help us do that in the years to come.
Last month marked the 10-year anniversary since I agreed a deal in principle to buy the club and then completed with Stephen, Jeremy and Martin. All the memories came flooding back; it’s been an amazing journey full of fantastic moments and I hope you agree that we have come a long way together. Here’s to the next chapter.
I know that Roy, his staff and all the players are desperate to finish as high up the table as possible, and will give their all during the run-in. From wherever you are in the world tonight, it won’t be the same here without you. But most importantly, I hope you are safe and well.
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