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Grassroots club Abbey Meads FC laud payment aspect of Matchday app for participants

Tuesday 28 Jul 2020
Wiltshire-based Abbey Meads FC have 27 teams across boys and girls' football

Whether you’re a player, manager, coach or secretary, our Matchday app is designed to save you time, energy and money.

Not only does it contain comprehensive information on players, clubs, fixtures and leagues, but it can help you track and chase payments.

Swindon-based Abbey Meads FC have been using the app for the past two seasons and despite only forming in 2003, they have quickly grown into one of the largest youth football clubs in Wiltshire - with 27 teams and three more in waiting for next season from their Wildcats centre – an FA-backed training programme offering girls aged 5-11 their first taster of football.

“We have over 300 players and the Matchday app allows us to keep track of them all,” says club secretary Chris Dean.

“Our youngest teams are our U7s and we are seeing a huge increase in girls in this age category. Our oldest team is currently the U16s, but a few years back we also had an U17s side who won the North Wilts Minor and Youth District League.

Abbey Meads' teams have been able to return to training recently

"As a large grassroots club, the Matchday app is a real time saver. We don’t just have a high volume of players, but have to deal with their parents too, in order to collect our subs. Doing that manually before we switched to the app was quite a painful process.

“In addition, the coaches can input their Full Time stats with ease via their mobile phones. That’s been brilliant because our league fines clubs who send them over late. The app stops that happening and removes any logistical headaches.”

The Matchday app is currently used by 100s of grassroots clubs to coordinate games, select or view team sheets, send post-match data and organise training or social events.

But it’s the payment side, in partnership with Paypal, that Dean recommends the most.

“When I talk to other club secretaries, I'm always a little surprised that many use the app for matchday logistics but not payments,” he says. “For us that’s the best part.

"Firstly, you can pay in a number of different ways. We offer annual or monthly membership, with the latter spread over a ten-month season.

"But for those who prefer even smaller installments, you can also split your monthly subs into four weekly payments. A lot of parents can’t afford annual subs of £200 in one go, so the app’s flexibility allows us to accommodate and be respectful of different financial situations.

“From our perspective, we can now clearly keep tabs on all of our income. Our club treasurer used to manually cross-check bank transfers against our membership lists in order to log payments. It would take him hours and I really think he would've quit had we not started using the app.

“The treasurer is often a bit of a forgotten figure at a football club because he’s not there on the field with all the players, but I genuinely believe the app averted disaster for us since I don’t know what we would have done had he packed it all in.

“Knowing where the money is at, and being able to chase any missing payments, means we have more disposable income available. This has allowed us to invest back into the club.

The club have used the Matchday app for a variety of tasks since its launch last year

 “We play in quite a distinctive purple kit, so don’t usually need a second strip, but we've been able to instead buy short-sleeved versions for the summer and rain jackets for winter. We've done all this not by charging more, but by being efficient with our books and then reinvesting the capital back into the club.”

The Matchday app has played a crucial role in helping Abbey Meads survive the COVID-19 pandemic. During a three-month absence of both games and training, it's been an uncertain period for many grassroots clubs, but the app allowed Abbey Meads to react quickly to the situation.

“It made it easy for us to make a decision during the pandemic,” says Dean. “We knew we couldn’t carry on playing matches or train, and it’s the latter that is the big cost for us – especially during the winter when we have to hire 3G pitches.

“But as soon as football stopped, we knew exactly where we were at financially thanks to the app. So what we did was then immediately contact the facilities, often schools, who we hired pitches from and asked them to cancel our winter training. Thankfully they allowed us to do so without any penalties.

“Getting back those outgoings helped protect us financially and in turn allowed us to tell the parents they didn’t have to pay any fees for April and May – their final two payments of the 2019-20 season. We didn’t need that money, so we simply didn’t take it.

“We're in quite a healthy position now and already back in socially-distanced training. During sessions, only coaches wearing latex gloves can pick up the balls and we have plenty of hand sanitiser on site.

“In the weeks before lockdown, parents were understandably concerned and quite a few pulled their kids out of training or games. But now we're back, they're so relieved and happy.

"Many said their son or daughter has been so bored, so even just some socially-distanced footwork or agility makes a huge difference. It gets the kids moving again and provides some form of normality to their daily routine."

New features including inviting players in the app will be launched this week

Just as Liverpool faced a nervous wait to confirm their Premier League title, Dean also had to delay presenting some of his U7s team with a local cup trophy that they won right before lockdown.

“It was funny, I bumped into two of the little lads and they came running up to me asking for their trophies,” he says. “They were absolutely chuffed to bits to receive them. It meant so much to me to see their smiling faces.

“Just like Jurgen Klopp and his players, all they wanted during lockdown was their trophies to put on their bedroom window sill. That’s the beauty of football. Whether you're professional or amateur, an adult or child, the joy of playing, scoring, winning and, in this case, lifting a trophy is exactly the same.

“Our end goal at Abbey Meads is to have that kind of feel-good factor on the pitch, but you can’t do that, especially during these times, unless you’re also well-run club. That’s where the Matchday app really helps.

"For those clubs not using it, and potentially struggling during this difficult period, I would thoroughly recommend it. You won’t regret it and will notice the time-saving and financial benefits pretty much instantly allowing you to focus on just enjoying the football.”

By Ben Jacobs