From the Official Website...
After the cancellation of the game against Spartans last Saturday, and the many comments that followed via emails, message boards and on social media I thought it may be of interest to our supporters to know the events that led to the game being called off and what we learned from both this and the aftermath.
To me this is a perfect example of the challenges involved in trying to satisfy all our supporters in the age of instant media, whilst trying our best to do what is in the best financial interests of the football club.
Very soon after we took over at the club I was informed by our Groundsman that the undersoil heating was not working properly. As you might appreciate these systems have limited suppliers who know how to maintain and service the system properly and the only company that appears to know how the entire system works is a one man business based in Hull.
We eventually managed to schedule him in to service the system in early October. At that service call we were told by the engineer that various items were beyond simple repair and that he could not get the system operational during that visit.
We requested a full report and estimate to see if our insurance would cover the repairs. We eventually received that report and our insurance organised a loss adjuster to come and see if we were covered. That visit took place earlier this week.
We are now waiting on an answer from the loss adjuster but in the meantime we have had someone local have a look at the system for their thoughts on whether they can maintain it and repair it and are awaiting further information from them.
It is worthwhile at this point to outline a few facts regarding undersoil heating and its running costs.
The undersoil heating system costs around £1000 a day to run and in normal circumstances it needs to be on from the Wednesday to the Saturday to ensure that the pitch is perfectly playable. In other words it can cost around £4000 purely in fuel and running costs to make sure the pitch is playable on a match day. The system has three heat settings, two that will keep the pitch from freezing and one that will melt surface snow.
We have a club meeting on the Wednesday morning before every Saturday home game and at each of the last 3 meetings we discussed whether we would have turned on the heating for each of those games. With very small travelling supports expected in those games, and with TV scheduling affecting the crowds we estimated that we would be lucky to break even for those specific matches, even before factoring in the cost of pitch heating.
It was therefore agreed that we would not have turned the heating on even had the system been fully functional. As such we unanimously agreed that the best course of action was to follow due process with the insurance company rather than embarking on potentially costly emergency repairs at this time.
The undersoil heating is of course a valuable asset to the club and one that we need to get fully functional as we cannot afford to risk losing a high earning Saturday game to frost. If the insurance won't cover the cost then we will request that SMiSA ask their members if they would consider this for their next discretionary fund spend.
So that is a full, transparent summary of where we have been and where we are now with regard the undersoil heating.
As ever there are lessons to learn from these events.
We have agreed that we need to dust down the pitch covers that we used successfully for so many years at Love Street. We will evaluate the condition of these and establish if we need to purchase new ones to at least give us an option to try and protect the pitch as best as possible for games like the last 3. Whilst the covers are nowhere near as effective as the undersoil heating in extreme weather they will give us an option where turning the heating on is not financially viable, so at least giving us a chance of getting the game on.
We have agreed that we will create and agree a clear plan of action in our pre-match team meetings aimed at mitigating the possible effects of inclement weather at the next home game.
We realise that communication is also key when dealing with possible and actual match cancellations and we will adopt a clear communication policy in this regard using email, social media and of course our own website to give clear advice to all supporters.
Thank you again for your time, patience and support. As a new board we are learning all the time and trying our level best to improve all aspects of the club both on and off the pitch. We will make mistakes along the way but as you can see things aren't always quite as straightforward as they seem on the surface and we will always take decisions that we think are in the best interests of the club as a whole.
Hope to see as many of you as possible at Falkirk on Saturday. "