Tranmere Rovers Chairman Mark Palios and Vice-Chairman Nicola Palios participated in a Q&A session with the SWA on the Club’s Facebook page on Thursday evening.
Mark and Nicola answered questions regarding the impact that the coronavirus has had on the Football Club as well as other issues facing the game.
Below is a transcript of Mark and Nicola’s answers.
MP: “We took the opportunity to do the pitch and we got the Club into a position for people to invest in it, these are good people, successful people who are motivated.
“We got the first investment from Santini back in September, and as we went through, we were preparing the pitch and we had already done extensive work, researching what should and shouldn’t be done.
“We will have a MallGrass pitch done by the same people who have put in Man Utd’s pitch, Man City, Wembley and the Stade de France.
“We had contingency plans for people who were working on the pitch to stay and sleep in the ground.
“We took this just before the lockdown occurred, and I felt if we could slam into the pitch and get it done, and we managed that all through, so it was great work with the contractor Mallinsons and everyone is going to be pleased.
“We will have a top MallGrass pitch at the end of this, so that is some good news.”
How will the Club get through this situation?
MP “We have digested, done and dealt the pitch issue and we were always keeping resources aside so we may delay other projects, which gives us the cash and the breathing space.
“We are in a relatively comfortable position compared to many of the Club’s I have seen, and we are in a great position to weather the storm.
“We don’t know when football will restart. What we have to do is manage the cost until then, and I am relaxed for the Club to weather the storm.”
What will happen to player contracts?
MP “The whole thing is is up in the air, but it is up in the air for everybody. The first thing I’m trying to get the league to focus on is the wages in April, as a lot of Club’s will not fulfil the wages in April.
“Players can’t do their jobs and what they are paid to do at the moment.
“We have contracts for some players for the whole of next season.”
What do you think of the prospect of playing behind closed doors?
MP “As an ex-player I’d hate it, as a player I’d hate it. As somebody who is running a Club where we need the gates far greater than the Premier League, it’s a no-brainer that we would not want that to happen.
“All we can do is keep our heads above water until we return to paying gates, and this Club is perfectly able to do that.”
How do we finish the season?
MP “My personal preference would be to finish the season, I don’t see this rush to suddenly start the new season.”
How are the players coping?
MP: “It’s very, very difficult. The guys have instructions from our sports scientist to keep themselves fit. Footballers are competitive with Hodgey, he has implemented an element of competition of who can do the best.
“Ultimately you have to get back on the training ground and the longer this goes on, they will need a pre-season.
“Micky and the guys are paid professionals and what they will have to do is keep themselves fit."
What has happened with the Club’s non-footballing services?
NP: “One of the good news stories is the Tranmere college. We have a college of 150 students.
“The college have to stop operating with the students turning up every day but the tutors have done a brilliant job converting it to an online module.
“We have had a phenomenal attendance rate of 98% and it is a big testament to the tutors who we have had working on it.
“The Riverhill has been operating a radically different service. The accommodation is completely shut down, the restaurant in terms of going into eat is closed, but they are doing a lot commercially, such as takeaway food menus which have been building on Sundays, particularly on Mother’s Day and Easter Sunday.
“They have also become involved in some of the community stuff, including our Tranmere food bundles for people, which is chilled and frozen food on a non-profit basis.
“They are freshly made at the hotel and distributed. We have had people who have left the area ordering their parents and also nursing homes for their residents.
“The college and the Riverhill are operating still but with a different format.”
How many players are under contract?
MP: “We’ve got ten players under contract. That is partly because when we took players on in the window, we didn’t want to commit as we didn’t know where we would be, League One or League Two, whichever league we are in.”
How can I help the Club?
NP: “A lot of our fans have been brilliant in wanting to help the Club. We have had 200 or so wanting to volunteer and come forward.
“The lottery is a great way of supporting the Club’s community efforts, and it goes back into the Club.”
MP: “The goodwill around Birkenhead and the Wirral has been through the Club and it’s tremendous.”
Does the Club have pandemic insurance?
NP: “The Club does have pandemic insurance. It is limited, it is a maximum of £100k. We do have it and we will try and claim if we can.”
Is there undersoil heating with the new pitch?
NP: “No, there is not. We looked at it and we are looking at getting a biomass boiler. I don’t think we really need undersoil heating with the pitch that we have.”