A message from the Chairman
I wanted to update on some of the many things going on at the Club. Judging by the number of meetings taking place and how many people are down at the ground throughout the week there must be lots going on so rather than try and wrap it all into a two minute video blog I thought a website article might be a better way on this occasion.
I know there hasn’t been too much meaningful news coming out the Club over the last few weeks. As we read about other clubs making signings or announcing other ‘big’ news it might well feel that we must be lagging behind. It feels so long since our season ended that I need to keep reminding myself that it is only the end of May and we still have over two months of the close season to go.
What everyone wants to know is have we made any major signings yet and more generally what’s happening on the playing front.
All I can say at the moment is that Gordon is speaking to many players (I have joined him in some of these meetings). There will be many more conversations and meetings. Some offers have been made and we are not far off agreements with some players – not that this means they will come to us. What happens at this point in the summer is that players will typically speak to several clubs. They will work out what is best for them in their individual circumstances (and it is not always money) before they commit themselves.
Some clubs have made some big signings but these normally happen when big wages are offered. Let’s be frank about this. Do we have enough money in the budget? Are we competitive? Would Gordon want more?
We all know the answers to those questions and frankly those answers would be the same even if we were able to double the budget. The better you do the better player you can attract and the more money they cost. It is all relative and whether in the Ryman League or the Premier League there will be 90% of the managers in every division who will talk to players they simply can’t afford. If some clubs are offering the same players twice (or more) what we can offer then we just can’t compete with that.
Of course we all want the best players and believe me when I see some of the players Gordon is speaking to I, and the Board, are determined to try and get some of these guys, but what we have to do is to make sure we don’t let our emotions run away with us.
At the same time what we also have to do is to try to bring in the funds to increasingly compete for these players. But before talking about our new commercial team let me finish on the playing side by saying firstly I am confident we will bring in some exciting talent that will strengthen the side and secondly – and I know people have said we can’t start the coming season like last year – let’s remember we are looking to strengthen (not rebuild) a side who finished 12th in this division last season – so we know what we need and we are focused on bringing it in. And let’s not forget that we did much of our business with the existing squad before the end of last season.
But I know that if we are to continue to move forward on the playing side; and if we are to start to do some of the things I have talked about in terms of the longer term vision for the Club then we need to build revenue streams that we can count on. So the new commercial team that we have brought in is pivotal to achieving what we want to do.
I have said publicly that we have not performed well in this area, particularly in the last year, which is most disappointing. So we needed to make some changes. Bringing in Mark Winkworth, Mike Bandry and the guys supporting our marketing efforts is a major step forward.
I have been very impressed by what I’ve seen from these guys over the first month. They are taking a far more strategic view in terms of what we need to do, including what we as a Club can offer sponsors, how much we charge, who we should be targeting and how we go about it. But this takes time. You cannot come into a new club in this type of role and expect big success from Day One, especially given the improvements required to our offer.
The commercial team have met with the Board and with the Supporters Club committee and both groups have been impressed. We will look for other opportunities for the guys to meet more people within the Club and share their approach giving more people an opportunity to contribute – and this is important. What has pleased me is the number of people who are offering to help in the different areas and support what the team are doing but everyone can help – and any opportunities that you see, anyone you think Mark or Mike should be speaking to, any thoughts you have in this area please let us know.
As well as focusing on the usual renewals, adverts and boards we are also looking hard for a new sponsor. We are progressing with a number of options – but bigger deals take time; so again patience and focus is key. We have spent time agreeing ambitious but realistic financial targets and the guys understand the challenge and have bought into what we need to do.
Ashley Holding, who is part of our new marketing team, is leading our efforts to have a brilliant presence at the Ruislip Manor Fun Day in early July bringing in people from around the Club including working with the Youth and Supporters Club. From a marketing perspective we are also looking at a more strategic and planned approach to growing our attendances, including the promotional offers we offer; the look and feel of all our promotional materials and how we have a consistent and impressive ‘one Club’ approach to social media.
Of course there is plenty more happening at the Club including the development of our plans for a new Wealdstone Community Trust, the Youth hosting their mega tournament, the Ladies putting in a place their plans to move forward, the Rollin Kitchen, and elsewhere around the Club. And many thanks to those who are helping in other ways, whether buying season tickets, through the summer ground works, looking after the fans on their way to their various Wembley matches or even hosting Paolo di Canio and Fox Sports Italy – and you can see the excellent promo that was filmed also on the website.
Our pre-season programme looks balanced with a good mix of Pro Clubs and competitive matches but let me finish where I started. We want to hit these friendlies and then the new league season with as good a team as we can have. That is where we are focused. But remember we are not even a third of the way through the close season so please remain patient. We will have some announcements soon.