As ever we have been hugely busy behind the scenes at the club.
From a footballing perspective we have been actively looking to bring in a number of high-calibre loan players who can improve and complement our current squad given the very high levels of injuries we seem to have been suffering lately, and in doing so building and growing new positive relationships with other clubs.
We have also been working on bringing in one or two more permanent additions, who shall be announced in due course.
There has been significant development and progression in our academy and ETS, whose achievements of late have been nothing short of fantastic!
Our ETS, who were only formed three months ago, have progressed to the FA Youth Cup first round proper. If that’s not a big enough achievement, our guys are all 16 or 17 and this is an U19’s competition!
On top of this we have given first team and bench debuts to half a dozen of this squad and signed three to their first professional terms.
We have also made significant moves to improve our off-field team too, to help create a more stable and robust business model.
We have added a head of media and marketing, a commercial manager, a stadium maintenance manager and a number of other additional support staff, all of whom are now integrated and operating within the business. This, alongside a now settled and active board, is allowing us to make significant forward steps in our operational activities.
As I’m sure we can all appreciate only having two low-attendance home Saturday league games since the beginning of September is a challenge financially, but the way we a club have risen to this challenge has for me been a real indicator of how far we have come in the last 12 months.
As some of you may be aware, I have been teaching sign language lessons at the club for the last couple of months to a number of our internal coaches and managers. We opened this up to our internal guys a couple of months ago, but in the new year we will also be opening this up to the general public.
This is a free of charge foundation level sign language course (don’t worry I won’t be teaching this one) and it will be free of charge, as the club will pay for the tutors. It will be held at the club once a week for a 6-8 week period.
The idea is that it will offer you a basic level of knowledge, ability and understanding of BSL (British Sign Language) which if you enjoy will give you the confidence to look at a more formal qualification in it.
As part of our course you will be given the opportunity to come and watch our deaf team play, and communicate with the players and the fans watching. We the hope that this will help you to become a more integrated part of our deaf community both at the club and in the wider community. Further details will be posted on our social media after Christmas.
Full site development update
Now for the big news!
As you know we submitted our pre-planning application to the council for the full site development during the summer. We have had a meeting with the planners at the council and recently received their response.
There were the usual expected issues and objections that we had already anticipated and have pro-active action plans in place for, but apart from that with the exception of a few minor change recommendations it was a very positive and supportive meeting and result! So I now have instructed my team of architects and engineers to commence work on the full site planning application.
Given the number of third party surveys and variables that are out of our control we anticipate a spring submission for the main part of the build. But we are looking to break the application down into smaller applications relating to areas of development so we can have parts of it with approval sooner so we can start developing the site sooner rather than later.
This is game changing news for the club, and will totally transform both the physical site as well as the nature of our proposition both on and off the pitch!
Myself and my team will do all we can to make sure we not only get this through planning but also make this the best community, disability and club project we possibly can.
To support this process, myself and some of the other directors met with Parliamentary Minister for Sport, Stuart Andrew MP. We went through all of the designs and plans, and he has offered us his full support and backing.
So watch this space, I will update you all again soon.
In the meantime, I hope to see you all down at the club for our next two home fixtures against Darlington on Saturday and Boston on Tuesday.