Dear all,

Firstly I hope you are all safe and well and managing to adhere to the lockdown measures. Stay safe, stay at home and protect the NHS.

Hopefully we will see some relaxation of the lockdown in the coming weeks and months and we will all be able to return to some normality.

I thought I’d give you all an update on matters relating to the football club.

Given the lockdown there is very little activity presently taking place at the club.

Despite this, we are preparing the pitch for next season with contractors on site improving the drainage and slitting the pitch for treatment, followed by the application of 90 tonnes of sand and seeding. All of this will ensure the Mariners Park surface is in tip-top condition when we return.

We are also moving the dugouts to the opposite side of the pitch, lowering them into the ground by about 0.5m and increasing their size to a 12 person bench.

In addition we are installing a new turnstile unit near the Metro underpass to allow access to the ground from that location, near the 3G pitch.

Our planning application for further ground improvements is still pending but we remain in contact with STMBC and hope to have a decision soon. If successful this will allow the erection of our new stand to seat approaching 1,000 fans with a better view and more comfort!

As many of you may know, we have challenged the FA and the NPL regarding their decision to null and void the 2019-20 season. We have a strong legal argument and have appointed a leading QC and law firm to support us. There is an important principle at stake here regarding the integrity of the football pyramid and we intend to fight the decision to the end. We are supported by hundreds of clubs and thousands of fans with this endeavour. I will keep you posted on progress.

I want to take this opportunity to thank fans and sponsors for their incredible ongoing support. As you may know we have sold an incredible 500+ season tickets, we have sponsors renewing their support and we have had a great take up on a number of initiatives, including our ‘Tickets To The Future’, our merchandise offers and our Sunday lunch service.

Our Foundation and its work with the Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare has also been affected by the lockdown but the management are ensuring the Foundation is ready to return with a full programme of activities when it is safe to do so. Maintenance at the Welfare site continues and works are planned to improve it further.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support and involvement. All of this proves what a great community club we are building and I’m truly humbled and proud to be part of it.

Please take care of yourself and your family, and I hope to see you back at Mariners Park soon.

Very best wishes,

South Shields FC Foundation has received a significant boost in the form of a £100,000 donation from club chairman Geoff Thompson.

The announcement is the latest in a series of contributions made by Mr Thompson in the last four years to create his dream of a fan-owned Football League club for the town.

The Foundation is the club’s charitable arm that delivers around £1million worth of social and community impact each year across a range of community-based health and well-being activities.

In July 2019 it formed a partnership with Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare to secure the future of the Welfare – which was facing certain closure – in doing so safeguarding six local jobs and helping to preserve the town’s mining heritage.

Head of SSFC Foundation Steve Camm said: “We are obviously absolutely delighted with the generous donation.

“It will help us to continue to grow and develop the work of the Foundation and further increase our social and community impact.

“The Foundation is a registered charity but we are absolutely determined to be self financing through the activities we deliver and this donation will ensure that we can invest in the things we need to guarantee that.

“Geoff has always been a supporter of the Foundation and its work. It is consistent with his values and determination to invest in the club and the town.

“His generosity will benefit hundreds of people locally and help us to thrive as a community-based charitable foundation. We are incredibly humbled by the generous donation.”

The purpose of the Foundation is to promote community participation in healthy activities by people of all ages and abilities. It sits neatly alongside the club’s elite sporting programmes at first-team, ladies and academy level, broadening the offer and widening the participation levels.

The Foundation runs 20 junior football teams and a number of community-based programmes for children from three years old, including its flagship ‘Thinkers and Movers’ programme for three to five-year-olds, ‘Mini Mariners’ for five and six-year-olds, and its most recent addition, the Friday night ‘Skills School’ delivered by some of the first-team players.

But it’s not just about football.

The Foundation’s schools programme is now entering its second year and is fully booked.

Developed by Foundation Programme Delivery Lead Nathan Kew, the programme is being delivered in 11 primary and nursery schools focusing on literacy, numeracy, movement, resilience and social and emotional development.

Our popular schools matchday experience programme is also now in its second year and has seen first-team players visit over 30 schools, with more than 2,500 children visiting the ground to cheer the team on as our next generation of supporters.

Since its formation the Foundation has created or safeguarded nine jobs, two apprenticeships and created 40 regular volunteering opportunities which offer opportunities for qualifications and development.

The recent developments at Harton Welfare have now added bowls, cricket, junior cricket, adult learning, music and fitness activities for adults to the list of activities it supports that help to improve peoples’ health and well-being. The latest addition was McKenzie Dance, which started operating from Harton Welfare in January 2020.

South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson said: “The growth and development of the Foundation over the last two years has been exponential, in parallel with the progression of the first-team and academies and consistent with our ambition to create a Football League-ready community club that the whole town can be proud of.

“First and foremost I am making an investment in the town.

“The Foundation creates about £11 worth of social and community impact for local people for every £1 it spends and so I wanted to support and encourage that kind of impact.

“We want to reach the Football League as a community club and the Foundation has an important role to play in ensuring we make a significant contribution to the local economy and local peoples’ health and well-being.”

Club Chairman Geoff Thompson is set to join a team of volunteers at a beach clean initiative in South Shields.

The event – organised by North East Beach Clean – is taking place on Friday, November 29, with the volunteers set to meet at Haven Point at 9.45am.

They will then help to clean and litter pick the beach at Little Haven.

Geoff said: “Caring for our environment and tackling climate change are so very important to us all and future generations.

“Every journey starts with one small step so I’d appeal for anyone who is available on the day of the event to come along and help.

“The people of South Shields can make a difference.”

Please go along and lend a hand if you’re available!