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.

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