The Glasgow Clan have thanked their fans for continued support during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As many sports struggle to cope with the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic, we caught up with Gareth Chalmers, Chief Operating Officer at The Glasgow Clan to discuss the future of the game.

And the Clan chief, who has been at The Clan since 2013, had a special message for the fans during an interview with the Herald. 

You can read our original piece HERE or the interview that inspired the article below. 

How has Covid-19 impacted the Clan - has there been a change in the day to day operations?

GC: Like any other sporting organisation, the Covid-19 situation has been nothing but catastrophic. We lost our final three or four home games, the league lost the playoff finals weekend and ultimately it has cost the Clan in the region of £150k to £200k. For a club like ourselves, that’s roughly 15% to 20% of our annual turnover. We’ve had to adapt quickly to the situation, which I am very proud that we’ve been able to, it’s testament to the people around the club and the support we have been receiving that we’re now focusing our efforts on a new season.

What impact has the EIHL cancelling the season, and the uncertainty around the global pandemic had on planning for next season?

GC: The start of the season is very much reliant on social distancing and how that develops. Let me reaffirm that with social distancing, sport at our level is simply not viable. We’ve built various plans and assessed a number of different scenarios, however it simply doesn’t add up the club starting the season with reduced capacity for home games. It would be fatal to even attempt to start the season.

However, we’re working hard with our venues, partners and local government to ensure we’re in the best possible position to start the season.

What’s the latest on the coach situation?

GC: I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to put our discussions on hold. At that time we didn’t have a defined plan, little idea when the season would start and it was becoming apparent that it would be impossible and not fair on the candidates to proceed any further.

We now have a much coherent plan, so we’re now back to assessing our options and talking to our targets. We’re no different to a lot of teams in Europe and even Cardiff, it’s probably the most difficult environment to be recruiting a new head coach, however I’m confident we’ll get the guy we’re looking for.

The Clan fans have backed the club throughout the pandemic tuning into Clan Classics and partaking in events - just how essential are the fans to the club?

GC: The Clan fans have been absolutely fantastic as always. As soon as the pandemic started becoming prevalent, we really focused on our fan engagement including the Clan Classics streams and Clan Chats with former players. The fans have supported the club in any way they can, whether that’s been buying 50/50 tickets, Shirt off the Back tickets, merchandise, emails of support, tweets – the support has been humbling and greatly appreciated. It’s a cliché, but without the fans the club would be nothing – they are literally the heartbeat of the club!

Obviously the Clan are just a small - but important - part of the EIHL - Do you have concerns for the future of the game in the UK?

GC: There are no concerns for the future of the professional game in the UK, it’s just an important time for the EIHL to be adaptable to the changing world around us. The EIHL is the most solid and sustainable top league we have ever had in the UK. It’s a time we need to be flexible, be aware of the various hurdles from the economic impact to how this will affect the sporting aspect of the league. It’s a time where the club’s and sport must be open to change, as it’s very much survival of the fittest.

The Clan have become an absolute integral part of the EIHL, to the extent of being one of the flagship organisations. Having a professional hockey club in one of the UK’s biggest city’s and one that is world-renowned, has been a major positive for the EIHL. From a Scottish perspective the viability of Dundee and Fife is linked to having Glasgow in the league, and vice versa. While we are big rivals on the ice, a lot of collective hard work goes on behind the scenes to ensure all clubs are sustainable and successful at this level.

READ MORE: Glasgow Clan CEO gives update on recruitment, Intu and the future of the league

Fans will be worried about the Clan when they read about Intu - what assurances can you give them over it?

GC: We’ve been very proactive with the unravelling situation with intu, since the premature end to the 2019/20 season we’ve continued to have consistent dialogue with the Braehead Arena management. We understand the Arena will remain open while the group administrators look at options for the venue.

We have a very solid and sustainable club, a very ambitious club that wants to continue to grow and win trophies, so we’ll continue to work along with Braehead Arena as we focus on the new season. At this time though, it’s a very important period that we show our support to the management, staff and families of everyone associated with the intu Group, Braehead shopping centre and Braehead Arena – that’s the priority right now.

Fans are worried about contracts and future signings, while safety is paramount of course, what message can you give them for next season?

GC: I can assure Clan fans that the situation is very much under control, there is a lot of experience around the club when it comes to recruitment. While we’re still talking to coaching candidates, we’re also continuing to talk to players about returning while also tracking potential new additions for the club. That’s no different to any season.

We will likely see a substantial change in our recruitment this year. I really want to bring down the age of our team, focus on signing hard-working, ambitious, young and exciting players for the club. We’re already working with our contacts in USports and NCAA in North America to scout and source the type of players we want to build the club around.