As world sport is rocked and largely shut down by the coronavirus, Rob Fielding says there was still a glimmer of good news coming from Vale Park.
Rob Fielding writes…
One remarkable factor of English football’s three week lockdown was the speed of the change. Even on Thursday evening, it looked likely that the weekend fixtures could still go ahead – but by mid morning on Friday all that had changed. It meant clubs had to react quickly to the issue with little time to prepare or organise their response.
It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be damaging, but with the Shanahans in charge I believe Vale are resilient enough to survive what is English football’s biggest crisis in years…
Even though the club must be worried about lost revenues, especially from home fixtures, the announcement later that Friday that defenders James Gibbons and Leon Legge have agreed new contracts gave a strong message – off the pitch it was business at usual at the club. It seems typical of the club’s owners that despite unprecedented circumstances, the Valiants have still managed to get some positive headlines out there.
The contract news will be welcomed by fans. Vale now have over ten players signed up for the next season (whenever that should happen) and beyond and it’s this sort of continuity that drives long-term success at clubs. It is no coincidence that all three local clubs have had the most success with settled players, manager and owner in place.
This is a hugely uncertain period. Lower league clubs will be deeply worried about their finances. It is unclear when the season will resume or whether it will ever be finished. Meanwhile, players, staff and suppliers still need to be paid.
I shudder to think how this sort of crisis may have been handled by the club’s previous owners. However, I have confidence that Port Vale could not have better people in charge to guide us through this crisis. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be damaging, but with the Shanahans in charge I believe Vale are resilient enough to survive what is English football’s biggest crisis in years. The immediate focus is on ensuring public safety and football will have to take a back seat but in the long-term the future still looks bright for Port Vale FC.