Eastbourne Borough praised for looking after players in lockdown

Eastbourne Borough have been praised for looking after their players during the football lockdown – as club officials assure fans they are edging towards normality.

James Ferry in action for Eastbourne Borough
James Ferry in action for Eastbourne Borough

Midfielder James Ferry – scorer of The Sports’ last goal before football was suspended in mid-March in the 3-0 win over Maidstone – says the squad have been protected by the club’s ability to place them on furlough leave.

He spoke out on BBC Radio Sussex as EBFC bosses said they could see positive signs the club was starting to return to action and normal life.

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Ferry, who combines football with teaching and an ongoing sports journalism course, told listeners: “When all this happened, we players were probably expecting that we would have to take a hit in terms of our income – which of course is our livelihood.

“But because we were on contract, and the club had done all the right things with PAYE etc, we are able to be furloughed, and that has been massive for us players.”

Asked about the ‘haves and have-nots’ and the disparity between the top levels of the game and non-league, Ferry was diplomatic but honest.

“There must surely be something that can be done – even a tiny percentage of the financial resources in the Premier League would help clubs at our level to stay afloat,” he said.

On the wider scenario, he added: “Of course I’m hugely missing my football, the banter with team-mates, celebrating at 5 o’clock with the supporters if we’ve won.

“But we have to remember that, unlike our football, there are literally matters of life and death out there. I’m fortunate to be healthy and to be a footballer, and like all players I must never lose sight of that or the wider picture.”

It comes as EBFC and Langney Sports Club say early signs of normality can be seen at Priory Lane. Football chairman John Bonar said following government advice and after completing risk assessments, from Monday, Owlets Nursery would re-open its doors.

There’s also good news for Eastbourne Archers.

Bonar said: “They are also returning to the site, following full risk assessments and using the guidelines laid down by Archery GB.

“While archery matches are currently not being played, training will continue.”

Bonar said he was staying positive and was glad to see those representing the club doing good work locally.

“You probably saw in the Eastbourne Herald that a number of our walking footballers have been helping out with the local food bank,” said Bonar.

“Many thanks to all of you guys!

“And in a little gesture to support our essential services, I was delighted to be able to make a delivery of drinks and snack foods to our local paramedics at their Polegate depot.

These were provisions originally intended for the first team squad and for the Priory Lane snack bars.

“Great to be able to put them to good use for the guys who are out there day and night, for us.”

Borough have had trouble with intruders at Priory Lane.

Bonar said: “Unfortunately there have been recent instances where people have climbed over the walls and entered the stadium to play football on the main pitch. This is trespassing, dangerous, may well cause damage, and of course breaks the guidelines.

“We’d remind everyone that the site is monitored on CCTV cameras, and whilst we do not wish to be heavy-handed, should this behaviour continue we will be forced to pass the recordings on to the authorities.”

Manager Danny Bloor, Bonar and all club officials signed off with this message: “We are in good shape and good heart and, like all of you, dipping into all those reserves of resilience and cheerfulness which have always been at the heart of the Sports and Borough outlook on life.

“It’s looking a bit brighter, isn’t it? Remember that every day is one day nearer to normality. It is hoped that we can release some news in the very near future regarding footballing matters. Until then, look out for each other, and of course, please stay safe.”