With Premier League football suspended until April 30 at the earliest, clubs have turned their focus on helping their local communities in a bid to keep spirits high.
Talk of when and how football resumes – and when clubs plan to return to training – was placed in perspective on Monday as Britain prepared to force people into self-isolation. Football is the lifeblood of so many of our communities, but these are unprecedented times as the Covid-19 crisis deepens.
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With hundreds of thousands of families stripped of their weekend pre-match rituals and post-match social engagements, the spotlight is now on how Premier League clubs can help their communities.
All 20 top-flight clubs are doing their bit in society to ensure those most in need of help are being reached amid the ongoing pandemic.
Arsenal will be looking to scale up their support for their community over the next few weeks and months as the situation develops – but they have so far pledged £100,000 to local charities and organisations. A further £50,000 has been redirected to Islington Giving’s Crisis Fund.
In addition, Arsenal in the Community cars have been offered to help frontline NHS staff while staff volunteers are also in place to drive NHS staff.
Digital resources have been made available for local primary school children while BTEC tutors will deliver classes remotely. They are also looking into how they can support their casual workers.
Regular contact will be made available for vulnerable youngsters while there is also support for the club’s global communities in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan and in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Arsenal coaches will work remotely with local coaches to continue to develop the resilience training modules of the Coaching for Life programme.
Aston Villa have been busy supporting vulnerable people and charities across the city over the last couple of weeks.
On Friday March 13, nearly a thousand packed lunches intended for matchday staff at the subsequently postponed Chelsea fixture were donated to homeless charities across the city.
Look after yourselves and each other, Villans. 💜#MondayMotivation #AVFC pic.twitter.com/Y5ddY2e7EW
Last Friday, the club and stadium catering company Levy UK followed up on those donations by donating large amounts of fresh food to FareShare.
The Villa players have also provided their own supportive messages regarding #ViralKindness. As well as this, the club are continuing to look for opportunities to support their fans.
Last week, manager Eddie Howe partook in a two-hour marathon HIIT workout to raise money for Julia’s House, a children’s hospice close to his heart.
Bournemouth have vowed to reach out to their vulnerable and socially isolated supporters who are affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
I’ll be on the end of the phone, if you are struggling do not hesitate to get in contact with the club. These are the times everyone has to look after each other in any ways possible 🍒 https://t.co/vGOhFpVmzW
The Cherries’ ticketing team will proactively call fans on its database who fall into the Government’s ‘at risk’ category.
The club have announced that staff members will engage with those supporters about a range of subjects including their love of the club and favourite memories, while they will also complete a weekly Bournemouth quiz.
Brighton boss Graham Potter has sent video messages to supporters who are recovering from coronavirus in Brighton ICU.
The club had already donated to charity Sussex Homeless Support the food that would have been used in hospitality areas during the postponed home fixture with Arsenal earlier this month.
Burnley’s players, alongside Burnley Council and community housing company Calico, have backed the community foodbank effort during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The club’s foodbank, which is located inside the Burnley Community Kitchen in Charter Walk shopping centre, has already seen demand increase three-fold in recent weeks.
In it together #COVID19 #coronavirus https://t.co/tgWqrVGiYd
Burnley FC in the Community has been working in partnership with Burnley FC Supporters’ Groups since the start of the season to deliver matchday foodbank collections at Turf Moor for the foodbank.
The suspension of the Premier League has led to the postponement of this activity but club captain Ben Mee has already made a collective cash donation to the foodbank and this has been matched by the football club.
Fans are being encouraged to donate to the campaign’s JustGiving page where possible. Donations can be made here.
Plans are still being updated with regards to what the Chelsea Foundation will be doing.
Following Government advice, the Foundation has limited activity in the coming weeks – but the club’s education programmes and work with seniors has moved to an online platform as they seek to continue support for those in need.
Furthermore, the National Health Service (NHS) has accepted the club’s offer to make the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge available for staff.
Crystal Palace have contacted all season ticket holders aged 70 or over (of which there are more than 1,000) to offer practical help with shopping, or simply to chat and check on their well-being.
Palace are also encouraging fans to help support the local Norwood and Brixton food bank, which the club has been supporting for almost a year.
Please consider donating to your local food bank this weekend to help those in desperate need.
If you can't make a contribution locally, you can donate £5 to @foodbankNorwood by texting "DINNER 5" to 70085 or £10 by texting "DINNER 10" to 70085.#CPFC | @TrussellTrust
In addition, the Eagles have been sharing public health advice from club Doctor, Dr Zaf Iqbal on the club’s website – to encourage mental and physical well-being during this time of social distancing and self-isolation.
Palace for Life Foundation coaches are delivering activities in 10 local schools for children who are still in education. Mentors are continuing to speak to young people at risk, using video or voice calls to check in with them regularly and provide support.
🔵 | #EFC and @EITC have committed to paying all directly-engaged matchday and non-matchday casual workers unable to work due to the coronavirus crisis.
Everton and Everton in the Community have committed to paying all directly engaged matchday and non-matchday casual workers unable to work due to the coronavirus crisis.
All the Club’s directly engaged matchday workers will be paid for the remainder of the Premier League season based on their existing terms of engagement and frequency of work previously undertaken, while casual matchday workers will also be paid for any rescheduled fixtures they work when the season resumes.
Non-matchday casual workers, directly engaged by the Club, will be paid for at least the next month based on their existing terms of engagement and frequency of work previously undertaken. This will continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
Everton and official charity Everton in the Community have also made a £50,000 donation to launch the “Blue Family” campaign to support society’s most vulnerable.
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A percentage of those funds raised for the campaign will be allocated to Fans Supporting Foodbanks to assist its operation in packaging and distributing food packages to those in need across the city. Supporters can donate to the campaign here.
Elsewhere, Theo Walcott provided a home workout video to motivate supporters to maintain an active lifestyle, while club captain Seamus Coleman and Mason Holgate have been among the players to phone elderly fans who have been forced to self-isolate.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti became the latest member of staff to join the campaign when he contacted a 52-year-old supporter with motor neurone disease.
It was a pleasure talking to Mark. I wish him and all who are suffering due to the COVID-19 the best. Strength and courage to all. We will also win this match. https://t.co/ywTR3hBc9M
Fresh food intended for players and staff at the club’s USM Finch Farm training headquarters has been donated to North Liverpool Foodbank.
Club CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale has joined a national steering group which aims to harness the collective power of business as a force for good in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic.
First-team players, including Jamie Vardy and Jonny Evans, have provided important messages to supporters on social media thanking the work of the NHS.
Revisiting classic games, a regular quiz and a daily countdown to the club’s ultimate Premier League XI as voted by the public have kept supporters engaged.
Last week, players helped staff at a local Co-operative in New Parks to restock shelves given the greater demand.
This afternoon we helped staff at @mycoopfood in New Parks restock shelves to help with the greater demand 🧻 pic.twitter.com/UKpcD8RqT2
Leicester City in the Community had continued with the delivery of the Premier League Primary Stars and Premier League Inspires programmes while schools remained open.
The club will continue to offer support to partner schools through activities for vulnerable young people and children of key workers. Opportunities to offer further services to the club’s communities during this period are being explored.
The club prioritised two initial areas of community work following the Premier League’s announcement to postpone matches. Firstly, the Premier League leaders have held a long-standing relationship with foodbanks in North Liverpool through their Red Neighbours team.
Their second area of focus in response to the immediate crisis was the elderly and those with social isolation issues.
Unity Is Strength ❤️
▪️ Text FOODBANKFC to 70460
▪️ Donations cost £5 + your standard network message rate
▪️ Or donate at https://t.co/[email protected] welcome donations of any size, and you can make a real difference to lives in the local area.https://t.co/CKlTgBDncQ
A donation of £40,000 was made jointly with the Liverpool FC Foundation to St Andrews foodbank in North Liverpool and the club also have a staff volunteering programme which helps out with sorting the food and ensuring those in need receive food parcels.
Liverpool FC Connect – a social isolation initiative aimed at contacting the vulnerable via telephone – is ongoing and the club are teaming up with Liverpool City Council on their volunteering scheme to tackle community need, loneliness and social isolation.
The Club will also be sending out postcards as an additional way of reaching out to the local community and letting fans know the Reds are committed to providing support during this difficult time, including details on how fans can register for the LFC Connect service.
Liverpool have committed to paying their matchday casual workers during this period which would have been three games – approximately £750,000 committed prior to the UK government making their pledge.
In addition to the £100,000 joint donation with Manchester United to help local food banks, City have donated the food ordered for matches against Arsenal and Burnley to local charities across Manchester with the support of their stadium catering partner F3.
The food for the Arsenal game was donated to The Longford Centre (a homeless prevention charity) and Open Kitchen MCR (a company that prevents food waste by repurposing for events).
The food for the Burnley game was donated to a number of charities, including the Home Community Cafe, Mellor County House, Mother Earth and the Sale Methodist Church.
City have also donated flowers which were ordered for various locations around the Etihad for the Burnley game to Brookdale View Care Home in Newton Heath with the support of our local supplier Springbank.
Furthermore, City announced last week that their digital content subscription service, City +, is now free to all Cityzens, meaning fans can access all the content on the platform free of charge until football is back.
United have donated £50,000 as part of a combined £100,000 with City to The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of over 1,200 food bank centres – compensating for the temporary loss of food donations on matchdays.
The donation come alongside ongoing work by the Manchester United Foundation as part of a wider response to the coronavirus outbreak.
United will pay all its matchday and non-matchday casual workers, should Premier League games be cancelled or played behind closed doors for the remainder of the season.
The goodwill payment will be made to all matchday and non-matchday casual staff who have worked for the club during the past three months.
The club have donated matchday food to the Newcastle West End Foodbank following the postponement of the recent Premier League fixture with Sheffield United at St James’ Park.
The Magpies have redistributed food items, including 1,200 pies and a range of cold meats to the charity to ensure the city’s most vulnerable people are fed.
The club’s official charity, the Newcastle United Foundation, remains focused on its mission to connect, motivate and inspire their communities, offering extra support to the most vulnerable in society.
Among a range of initiatives drawn up by Steve Beharall, the head of the Foundation, is a call for season ticket holders to support individuals in isolation.
Norwich have kept their supporters engaged on social media with quiz questions while the club launched a leaflet last week for people to offer support for the most vulnerable.
Fans have been encouraged to offer their help by printing off leaflets, filling in their details and posting it through letterboxes.
Norwich are among several clubs taking part in Leyton Orient’s ‘Ultimate QuaranTeam’ tournament on FIFA 20 – with Todd Cantwell sending his side through to the second round on Monday night with a 2-1 win over Fleetwood.
Fans are able to follow their club’s involvement in the tournament on social media.
The Blades have agreed to a request from the NHS for free parking at Bramall Lane for staff and the club are currently assessing other ways to help in the pandemic.
The club’s official charity, Sheffield United Community Foundation, have stated their ambition to continue to support their local communities with our ‘Step It Up Sheffield’ campaign.
Schools 🚫 Let’s keep active! 👇 pic.twitter.com/57MGOyUBzq
The Foundation are regularly posting a variety of activities and challenges for children and families on social media, designed by staff from their Premier League Primary Stars and EFL Joy of Moving programmes, as they endeavour to keep community members active and healthy in their homes.
Southampton and Saints Foundation have linked with FareShare, the UK’s national network of charitable food re-distributors, to cook and deliver a range of 1,000 meals each week for people in need across the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club will commit a significant amount of financial and human resource to the initiative, providing ingredients, packaging and a team of expert chefs, who will create a range of healthy, nutritious and well-balanced dishes that FareShare will then help supply to vulnerable people who are struggling to gain access to food in Southampton and the immediately-surrounding areas.
The Saints Foundation have also provided online exercises for older adults, sharing some simple 10-minute workouts that can help supporters stay active.
Club Chief Executive Martin Semmens has been a vocal presence in the media since the outbreak began, and he has highlighted the Foundation’s pivotal role in supporting the local community, describing it as the “most effective” part of the business until football resumes.
The club are in the process of pulling together more material to support their community – virtual sessions to keep people active and also help mental well-being.
Tottenham donated surplus food and drink at the stadium intended for upcoming events to The Felix Project – a London-based charity which aims to tackle food waste and hunger in the capital. The produce has since been delivered to a number of local good causes within the Tottenham area.
The Tottenham Hotspur Foundation held its first-ever virtual yoga session for those on its ‘Move 4 You’ cancer rehabilitation programme. It is also trialling virtual seated exercise classes to be delivered within local elderly care homes.
Introducing: #SpursAtHome 🏡
From fitness tutorials to activities for school children, we'll have plenty coming up to help you out at home.
📸 We want to see your Spurs-inspired photos and videos as well. Use the hashtag and we'll share the best ones each day!#THFC ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/fHHRQCpjql
Furthermore, as part of the club’s new #SpursAtHome campaign, Spurs provided the first in a series of video home workouts on Monday delivered by our coaches on the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation’s ‘Shape Up With Spurs’ programme.
Tottenham will also be releasing a Spurs-themed educational resource pack to help keep kids entertained during this period, and the club is in regular contact with local services to discuss ways they can support the elderly and most vulnerable fans and residents at this time.
Head coach Jose Mourinho teamed up with Age UK in Enfield on Monday, helping pack food parcels for the elderly and sent them straight to the homes of residents.
Watford have launched a ‘Hornets At Home’ initiative, writing to all of its elderly supporters and those with a disability offering the help of fellow fans.
Furthermore, assistance will be made available to those who become house-bound through illness.
The Hornets have also offered the use of their Vicarage Road stadium for a range of different purposes to the nearby Watford General Hospital to help NHS staff there battle the coronavirus pandemic.
“We need to forget football right now and concentrate on doing all we can to support the NHS and, in particular, Watford General Hospital,” Watford chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury said in a joint statement announcing the move.
💛 Watford fans’ sense of community is renowned within the football industry – and now here’s a chance to show why with our ‘Hornets At Home’ initiative.
Find out how you can help an elderly fan, someone with a disability or who is house-bound during the #COVID_19uk outbreak 👇
The club have made an appeal to Watford supporters who are in a position to help others by coming forward with their offer to volunteer, through offering conversations on the phone, picking up shopping or some general maintenance tasks.
Those willing to help fellow Hornets should email [email protected]
West Ham has focused its initial community efforts on the most vulnerable groups.
Due to the strong links with between the club and the Any Old Irons fan group for over 60s, Declan Rice called Any Old Irons member John Chapman to offer his support to the group. The club has also set up a bespoke Facebook group for older fans to stay in touch, and this was followed up by a letter from captain Mark Noble.
📞Any Old Irons member John Chapman got a surprise call from @_DeclanRice today!
Dec passed on best wishes and support from everyone at @WestHam to John and all the #AnyOldIrons members who may be cut off from social contact at this difficult time. Thank you!🙌#WestHamFamily⚒ pic.twitter.com/SxzPyu8nXU
Noble also donated his fees from his Evening Standard column this season to the Newham Foodbank; toiletries and toilet rolls were donated to a local homelessness shelter from the hotel the Club would have used before the Wolves fixture; and food from the club’s Rush Green and Chadwell Heath training grounds was donated to the Salvation Army in Romford.
The Hammers are working on ways to re-purpose schemes through the Players’ Project and through the West Ham United Foundation to take programmes online and maintain the club’s support for the community. This will focus on physical health and fitness, good mental health practice, and providing interactive content to create online communities of fans.
Wolves and ownership group Fosun have donated 2,300 pieces of protective equipment to the city of Wolverhampton to support its efforts against the coronavirus epidemic.
The equipment has been distributed to The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Public Health teams to support and protect front-line services.
Furthermore, Wolves and Wolves Foundation are reaching out to the local community in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic by launching Wolves at Home.
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