Marvin is the real McCoy

Sorry for the pun

Delighted for Marvin McCoy today that he became the latest Wealdstone player to make it into the pro game.

We had some robust discussions with Wycombe Wanderers today and I was pleased we were able to agree a deal, pleased because it meant Marvin could make the move he wanted, pleased because it kept our good relationship with Wycombe in tact and pleased because we stood up for what we deserved and achieved what we wanted.

Some people may know that this has not been the smoothest transfer. Unfortunately, unlike in other transfers where we have worked hand in hand with the player to help them achieve what they wanted (and our track record on this is getting better all the time), Marvin’s agent largely took matters out of our hands. Agents, don’t you love them, especially at our level of the game.

Anyway, the deal is done, and we wish Marvin all the best. Who will be the next one off the WFC conveyor belt?

Incidentally apologies that it has taken some time to get any official word from the Club on this today. Nick is on holiday and this is the first chance I’ve had to blog. The press release should appear on the club website sometime soon.

Funding success?

As well as what has been happening off the field I wanted to write about some of the decisions and struggles we deal with as we try to give Gordon as good a budget as we can, in order to be competitive in this year’s Ryman Premier League.

Let’s face it, last season’s near miss from the play-offs and the FA Cup run should encourage us that it shouldn’t take much more for us to achieve greater success this season. The apparently marquee signing of Scott Fitzgerald and the other notable signings help build the expectation.

We all read about other Clubs in financial troubles, cutting their budgets. We also know that there are more players than ever before available as the pro clubs particularly let more and more promising players go. Remember though some of our opponents can make some fairly significant cuts to their budgets but still comfortably pay more than us. It just shows what the gap was before.

It wasn’t just the performance on the field that was good last season, our financial performance was exceptional. As always with a Club budget some things were much better than expected (FA Cup prize money being an obvious example) but other things did not perform as well as hoped, such as our commercial efforts in a particularly difficult market and even the lack of Saturday games meaning crowds and income down on what they might have been. However, prudent management meant we more or less broke even last season, for pretty much the first time in many many years (other than the year Jermaine was sold to Leeds). You can see the important role 100:400 played last season.

Our goal at the end of last season was to keep the budget at the same level as last season. When we set the budget we knew that we could not confirm that we could continue to afford this level of investment through the season. This is a worry. We have built up an excellent reputation among players as a club who always pay players on time and who have never thrown money at the start of the season and then cut the playing budget hard after the FA Cup exit. We treat people the right way and as a result players are interested in us even if we can’t compete with some of the other offers they receive.

Some generous donations meant we could confirm to Gordon that we would achieve the playing budget that we wanted and, according to our forecasts, have some money in the bank for the start of next season. Our goal is now to raise both the amount that will be there for the start of next season and we are working hard to do that, as well as – if we can – the playing budget for this season.

I’ve said previously that after 100:400 last year I didn’t want the Club to ask Supporters to put their collective hands in their pocket so soon. I am acutely aware of how difficult it is for many people and the Club has no right to expect people to keep supporting the team with extra cash. However, by the same token, I’ve also regularly said that we are one of the original ‘fans’ clubs so to some extent the quality of the team on the field will always be impacted by how much supporters want to help. In that vein, I am delighted that Dominic and Jez amongst others have launched TaskForceTen. The money they raise will be a big help to the team Gordon can put out – and it is genuine supporter led activity for which we are very grateful.

The Club works very hard to generate funds. There are certain monies we need to have simply to run a football club at the level we are, keep the stadium in reasonable working order etc. Most of the money we receive is earmarked for the playing side – this is the way it has always been and will always be – there should not be any doubt about this, though we must continue to be prudent and not chase success that cannot ever be guaranteed.

We continue to be tough on costs and without wanting to sound like a broken record it is all about income. The more we can raise commercially, through the gate or through other means ultimately the more we can put into trying to have a successful team.

It is a constant balancing act – and ultimately it is about trying to raise significant new income streams. This is easier said than done but I am content that we are mobilising as many people as we can to give this a very good go. If anyone else has some ideas or some time and can help generate more income please come and talk to me. I believe Gordon has the budget to fashion a competitive team this season, and I am excited to start watching them tomorrow night. See you there.

Getting back to business

The summer is almost over. It’s seems a bit funny to say that this side of August but three months after we played Carshalton in our final Ryman League game of last season, tomorrow night we play our first ‘proper’ pre-season game against Dagenham and Redbridge, followed quickly by Watford on Wednesday night.

Not that the summer has meant time off for many involved with the Club. Speaking personally, pressure at work particularly, has meant that something had to give and for me that resulted in the blog staying quiet. With the football starting I will try and start posting again and I can now take the opportunity to write a couple of posts while I sit in the departure lounge at Dusseldorf airport following a weekend trip over here for a wedding.

In this and the following blog post I want to comment on some of the things that have happened at the Club since we last met. In the next post I will focus on our financial situation and how we are trying to support Gordon to have as competitive a team as possible, but in this post I wanted to review some of the things that have happened off the field this summer.

The big news of course, as was well reported was the refusal of our landlords to renew the lease. Not much more to say about that now but plenty in the future. For now all I will say is we have formulated some initial plans, we are talking to the right people about our next steps and we will share more about this in due course, perhaps in a Club meeting sometime soon.

If this was the bad news, plenty of other things have been a struggle too. We have seen the summer remedial work around the ground stop and start due to a whole range of reasons. I’m grateful to everyone who has given their time and helped out with the work that needs doing but I do think it is fair to say we have learnt plenty from this. I am not surprised by the apparent lack of volunteer help. We have been very lucky with the help we have had from people since we moved to Ruislip but we cannot depend on it and we will need to be much smarter in the way we organise this work in future close seasons.

Commercially this summer, I have been delighted by what I believe has been some of the best organisation and dedicated hard work we have seen in recent years. The trouble is it is very tough out there. As we come out of recession, advertising with your local non league club is not top of many organization’s priority list.  But it has not all been doom and gloom on the commercial front and hopefully within the next few days we will be able to announce an excellent sponsorship deal for the Club.

Two decisions made by the Club seem to have come in for some discussion with supporters; our new away kit and the launch of the Vice Presidents Club. Taking the new ‘Roma’ kit first. One thing I have learnt is that if you get three people in a room and ask them to choose a new kit from a catalogue and you will get three different views. This is the same on the Board as it is with supporters.

Our initial decision was to try to update the home kit with a bespoke design that was not in a catalogue but the economics of this were not favourable. Therefore we used our Prokit allowance to update our away kit.  When we announced a new away kit at the AGM there was a less than favourable reaction and again I have to think that the way the kit was announced this summer might be improved upon in future seasons. I am keen that we wear the blue kit wherever possible but we do need something different and I hope that this new kit will grow in popularity especially if we win plenty of games in it.

I have been a little surprised by some of the comments I have read to do with the VPs club. Clearly one of the main duties we have is to try and find different income streams – this is the same for any commercial entity. At the same time I am very keen not to go back to the same people (the supporters) for money year in and year out.

Launching a VPs Club, something we have done in years gone by, is an attempt to offer something to a relatively small number of people who maybe can afford a little more, or want something extra on matchdays. Maybe these are people not always on the forum? We do know that when we have entertained good sized groups as match sponsors the feedback has been excellent and we have people still who tell us how successful in many ways the Vice Presidents Club was at Lower Mead.

Do people really think we shouldn’t be offering this? I don’t really see that.  Given we now have the facilities and two years experience of running a ground it seems the right time to try this. Our target is to get 10-15 members this season – no more – and we see this as a stretch. We are already nearly 20% there, before even speaking to people directly. So I don’t know whether this will prove a good thing or not. What I do know is we will try things if they have been well thought through and have people committed to run them. I hope we do get a few more signed up for the Vice Presidents and I hope it is a resounding success – because that will mean satisfied people, potentially more new people being attracted to the Club and more money raised.

Plenty going on then, and this is without mentioning many meetings, with people like the Ryman League, Hillingdon Council as well as our ongoing correspondence with Everton FC and all the other things. Nick’s press releases will have kept people up to date with player signings and other things too. I will try and keep blogging, especially over the coming weeks but I hope you get a sense of some of the issues we have been dealing with as we try to keep the club progressing the right way off the field.