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Coronavirus Kent: Maidstone United co-owner Oliver Ash is hoping the season ends now so they can concentrate on planning for a new one

Maidstone United co-owner Oliver Ash says they may have to revert to evening training once the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Doing away with day-time training would put the club on a more part-time footing but making any firm decisions is tough for the Stones says Ash, while the National League decide which way they are heading.

Maidstone co-owner Oliver Ash Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone co-owner Oliver Ash Picture: Steve Terrell

The Parisian-based businessman has made it clear he wants the season over now so that they can begin to plan ahead.

Speaking to Stones Live at the weekend, he said: “I am not thinking about this season, for me this season is dead and buried. Anybody who thinks it should be revived hasn’t got a sufficient dose of reality.

“The league hasn’t even decided if the season should finish or not. It says one thing one day and another the next day. It is trying to copy the EFL as ever because it is petrified that if it does anything wrong to the EFL they will cut off a promotion place.

“They are also petrified that their BT Sports contract could be cancelled and they will lose half a million pounds, which would also be a problem, but everything is relative.The National League doesn’t know what it is doing.

“We might still find that they have some policy to finish the season off but god knows how that would happen because it makes life so complicated in terms of player contracts.

“It is like a domino effect. If you try and finish this season then you screw up next season.

“There is no perfect solution to this but I have been clear in my mind for a few weeks. We have to say that this terrible crisis is bad luck but let’s wipe this season out. This season can never be finished in the same vain that it started.”

Player contracts at Maidstone expire at the end of April and that would make any extension complicated.

Mr Ash added: “I would like to have a clean piece of paper and try and plan for next season and not have to think, ‘my god we are trying to finish this season at some stage’ in whatever format that might be."

For now, it’s day-to-day at the Stones, looking to keep the club as financially sound as they can be, with their various sources of income all dried up.

He said: “We have to work out what next season’s budget could look like when we are actually looking through a frosted glass window and try and plan for what that means in terms of how we structure a playing squad when we really don’t know what we are doing. It is a tricky exercise.”

Before the coronavirus crisis took hold the Stones were set to stay training during the daytime hours next season. Reverting to evenings would affect who they could sign and some of their current staff might want to look elsewhere.

The club will also have to consider their manager Hakan Hayrettin if they change their training hours. The club want him onboard but for now, until a decision is made by the league, nothing is certain.

“There are some big decisions to be made,” he said.

“A few weeks ago when the planet was different we had the discussion and decided that on the balance we would stay day-time training for all sorts of reasons but now that, like every other aspect of running the club, is up in the air and we have to re-think it because next season, if we have £500,000 less income for example, that wipes out most of the playing budget.

“We have some pretty stark decisions to take and think about how we operate. I can reassure everyone that we will operate and we will make sure that we have got a club and it is going to be in the best possible shape when we all lift our heads above the parapet but i don’t know what that form will take.”

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