It’s fair to say coronavirus has challenged a lot of us in 2020 and we’ve all come through it very well. But if Glasgow Clan come through this year still standing, it will be a bigger victory than anything they’ve ever done on the ice.
The worldwide pandemic shut everyone’s lives down in March, from our own personal lives, to business and even sport and only now as we approach the end of June are we, very cautiously, seeing some kind of return to a new level of normality.
Shutting down the Elite League season was a decision most agreed with the sensible thing to do after the escalation of the virus across the world and clubs are feeling the effects of it. Make no mistake, they will continue to suffer the financial consequence of this over time.
For Glasgow, their very existence is under threat because of where they play as Intu, the company that owns Braehead Shopping Centre and 16 others across the UK have called in the administrators, having run up debts of £4.5 billion reportedly.
Scotland is still in Phase Two of coming out of lockdown, so shops, like those in Braehead are still yet to open anyway.
To be clear, shops with street access have only just re-opened. Centres like Braehead and many like it in Scotland are still a few weeks away from being able to do so.
The sad part about it is it’s completely outwith their control and unfortunately for them and the Paisley Pirates, Intu’s dire state has cast doubt over whether they can even function at all.
Gareth Chalmers, Clan’s Chief Operating Officer, is burning the candle at both ends trying to keep the club afloat on the back of the premature end to the season and with Intu’s situation too, he’s fighting two huge fires here, with one hose.
It’s not overdramatic to say this has been the club’s biggest test since they came into existence ten years ago. This is how serious it is.
For the Clan, unless something can be done with the administrators or a deal can be done, at least for someone to take over the arena, it’s probably a bigger fight for them to stay in existence.
They’ve had a couple of bad seasons in the last decade, where the biggest challenge previously has been picking the right coach. This is something off the scale and for Gareth, sadly, not something he’s unfamiliar with.
He was Director of Hockey Operations at Newcastle Vipers when they went under in 2011, which led to Fife Flyers coming into the league. If there’s anyone who’ll want to avoid it happening again, it’s him.
But in the face of all this, is there light at the end of the tunnel?
Since the administrators, KPMG, were called in, the centre, when it re-opens will continue to function as normal, therefore shoppers won’t notice anything different when they visit.
To that end, it’s business as usual as well for the Clan and the Pirates until otherwise told and fans should continue to support their teams as best they can.
Clan released a statement acknowledging the situation on Monday, with rumour rife that the end is nigh for the club.
While it didn’t say much to offer any reassurance – and let’s face it, they can’t at this time – they did state they’re in constant dialogue with the Arena management and are working on regardless.
Fans reading the between the lines will interpret this as they see fit, of course and those looking for any sign that everything is going to be okay will be disappointed.
There has to be an understanding that this is a precarious road Intu Braehead are now on and the administrators will work tirelessly to find a reasonable solution for all parties.
Patience is the key and what will happen will happen. If Clan are still here to look ahead to a world and Elite League campaigns post-coronavirus, then it should be a victory well celebrated for their fans.
After the death of Ayr in the early 2000’s, fans in the West of Scotland had to wait for Clan to come along. It would be cruel to see them disappear so soon.