With no game this weekend it gives us a little bit of time to breathe and reflect on the various things that are going on around the club currently.
On the field an excellent, no fantastic (or is superb a better word?) 4-1 win over third placed Metropolitan Police left us all with huge smiles on our faces for the rest of the weekend. Undoubtedly the best performance by the team for several years and one that proved that we are good enough to take one of those play-off places at the end of the season, albeit there is a lot of work still to do.
On Wednesday night we crashed out of the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup, losing at home to Reading after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes. That is the third cup competition we have gone out of on penalties this season and it is fair to say our record of scoring from the spot in these shoot-outs is not one to shout about, our record is starting to make the England team look like shoot-out specialists!
Away from the football we are now preparing our club budget for next season and having to make some serious adjustments to take into account the increased costs of our utility bills and travel costs. There is no hiding from the increases, they are hitting us all and we need to make sure that we can meet these costs without over-stretching the club and hopefully remaining competitive on the pitch. As you can imagine, there are lots of negotiations and conversations going on. Our electricity bills alone will increase by around £10,000 for next season, we knew it was coming, but that figure is quite mind-blowing!
Good news on the financial side is the success of our commercial and advertising this season, we are genuinely in the position that we are having to start looking at where else we can place advertising boards because the pitch perimeter is going to be filled up, and that is before we have launched our new commercial packages for 2022/23.
The big news on the commercial packages will be the revamped Claret Club which will be available to local businesses for either an annual or monthly subscription. We are in the process of creating the marketing collateral to launch at the end of this month, but I can tell you it will feature several benefits including discounted advertising, programme features, tickets and entry into monthly prize draws amongst other things. This will be the biggest shake-up of our commercial offering for some time as we look to offer something for everyone. I personally am excited about the partnerships we can build over the coming months.
For those not aware, we have confirmed the date for our next Sportsman’s Dinner, this will be on Thursday 21st April with our guest speaker being the legendary Tony Woodcock who made over 100 appearances for both Nottingham Forest and Arsenal, as well as over 40 appearances for England, scoring 16 goals for his country. Individual tickets for the event, including dinner and entertainment, are £70, with tables of 10 available for £600 ex-VAT. Reserve your place by emailing email@example.com.
Discussions for the new ground are progressing nicely, I know you must be sick of hearing this, but I genuinely would love to be in a position to share more detail of where we are at, but there are a number of detailed and sensitive conversations going on at the moment, but after several months of frustration at the lack of activity I can confirm that we are happy that things are happening and conversations are being had once again.
Despite our plans and growing confidence that we will be moving to a new ground, maintaining The Meadow and providing the best possible matchday experience remains a priority. We know the pitch has taken a hammering this season, our groundsman Craig Ringsell continues to do an incredible job coping with the number of matches played on it. We are approaching that time again when we need to look at the work that will be done on it over the close season and budgeting for that.
You will be aware of our desire to change the floodlights, we are increasingly determined to do this over the summer now, particularly in light (excuse the pun!) of the rocketing electricity bills we are facing. Any new lights will be transferrable to the new ground when we move and getting them now will improve the safety, be more economical, more eco-friendly and make viewing matches a much more pleasant experience. Donations can be made here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/light-up-the-meadow-a-return-to-claret-blue.
Our next match is on Tuesday evening when we host Weston-Super-Mare in a re-arranged league game, like us, our visitors are looking to claim one of the play-ff places available, it will be a huge game, please do come along and give the team your support – it will be appreciated and might just make the difference.
Stay safe, with everything going on in the world it is very easy to forget that COVID is still out there and people are still getting ill from it. Indeed Roger Payne has this week been struck down by it, we wish Roger a speedy recovery and hope to have him back in the Directors Box for our next game.
Peter Brown, Chairman