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A season like no other

QoS chairman praises club's united effort

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By Euan Maxwell
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A season like no other

QUEEN of the South chairman Billy Hewitson has applauded the efforts of everyone involved with the club during the coronavirus pandemic.

It really has been a season like no other, with supporters locked out of grounds up and down the country.

The hard work of volunteers, club staff and supporters – who dug deep to purchase virtual season tickets – made sure the Dumfries outfit could be sustainable throughout the season.

The chairman said: “I knew it was always going to be a financial challenge with no fans in the ground, which it was proving to be until we got support from the Scottish Government. We started late to reduce the problem but when we got started and the money had come in then the season worked okay.

“It has been a season like no other, but we got used to the new rules and regulations quickly and got on with the job – but without fans it’s not been the same.

“Everybody that supports the club needs thanked. Queen of the South is a community club and runs because of the supporters in the community. We always have volunteers, or we wouldn’t be at the level of football we’re at. We couldn’t run the club the way we do without the volunteers and sponsors.”

He added: “I think everybody involved with the club needs thanked for the efforts they’ve put in and tried to make it as normal a season as possible. A big thank you to everybody who supported the club through this year and hopefully they will continue to support us in the future.”

Mr Hewitson believes getting last season underway was vitally important for the majority of Scottish clubs as they creep towards normality for next campaign.

He said: “I actually didn’t think the crowds would be back in last season. I said at the time the minimum we should’ve started playing was after Christmas, but at the end of the day we started in October because they wanted to play the Betfred Cup then. If it wasn’t for the League Cup we probably would’ve started the league in January.

“It all worked out with the government money coming in, so we’re all happy. We’re delighted the players have been able to play, are in a job and still getting paid.

“It keeps the continuity going, a whole season lost would’ve been a killer and it would’ve been a struggle to get normality back for next season.”

Fans haven’t been allowed into Palmerston Park for over a year now

The Palmerston chairman hopes to have supporters back in for Queens’ first home fixture when they return to action in early July. He also confirmed season tickets for next campaign will be available once the fixture list is announced next month.

He said: “I’m hoping we get the 25 per cent allowance for next season. There will be protocols in place but I’m hoping every fan will be allowed to attend matches at the start of next season. There’s been no indications of how many supporters we’ll be allowed in, but we are hoping to get all of our fans inside Palmerston.

“We are waiting to get the fixture lists first in two week’s time then we’ll start thinking about selling season tickets. But everything is up in the air and can change so quickly but at the moment I’m assuming in two weeks the league will announce the fixture list.”

On the pitch, Mr Hewitson admitted it was an “easy decision” to offer manager Allan Johnston a new deal after the club’s remarkable turnaround of fortunes in the second half of their Championship campaign.

Queens boss Allan Johnston signed a new two-year deal last month

He said: “It was, without a doubt, an easy decision to offer Allan a new contract. I’ve always thought that Allan gets the team playing football the way I like to see it. It’s always attacking and positive football. The trouble is you’ve got to have the right players who buy into the high energy football.

“We had a lot of pace in the side this year and I think that dragged us up the table. Injuries and other various things probably stopped us reaching the promotion play-offs. I honestly believe that we could’ve got to the play-offs.”

Mr Hewitson believes this coming season is just as big a year than the previous one and hopes supporters can get behind the team.

He said: “I think it’s going to take a lot of building and patience to where we need to be. We need the QoS Arena up and running and making money again. We need the other community projects to start and attracting new fans to the club.

“I hope some fans who stopped coming to games return as they’ve had that choice of going to games taken away from them. We need to make sure the supporters are confident coming back to Palmerston safely. That’s something we need to work on to assure supporters who have concerns that they’ll be safe coming to Palmerston, which they will be.”

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