Chairman Howard Krais provided a very useful update on the 12th Stone initiative in today’s programme versus Biggleswade Town. For those who didn’t see it or were not at the game it is repeated below………
Recently we’ve held a number of sessions as we launch our 12th Stone campaign.
These conversations with small groups of fans provide a great opportunity to discuss not only the current challenges we face as a Club, but also any issues that those in the room want to bring up – and there have been plenty. We will keep running these sessions.
When we launched the Club’s long-term strategy and vision last year one of the key pillars was about playing at the highest level possible. We want to be in the National League. And we want to be competitive in at this level. Yet this is not easy – as we know.
This season alone, by my reckoning a third of the clubs in the league are paying out major big bucks. If Ebbsfleet continue to run away with the title then you will have 6-7 other clubs paying eye watering sums of money just to get in the play-offs. This is not written as a complaint or an excuse but just to demonstrate the level of competition we face week in week out.
Our desire has always been to get as much of the money we generate onto the pitch, and into the playing side of the Club. Yet at the same time we have always said we would only pay players what we can afford – so we have often had to sit and suffer, previously in the Ryman, and now today in the National League as poor relations.
Money doesn’t buy you everything though. Despite not competing financially, good management has meant we can compete on the pitch. And through pragmatic and sensible management of the Club’s finances the playing budget that Gordon has to work with has steadily increased over the past few years.
This season, looking at the challenges ahead we took a slightly different approach. Another part of the strategy is to move from a Club dependent on volunteers to one where people are recognised and paid for the expertise they bring. A priority for us was to start to get the commercial and marketing side of the organisation right. Therefore we have invested in this under Mark Winkworth’s leadership. This is critical, not just for this season but also for the long-term health of the Club. Those who have been to the meetings will know more about Mark, some of the challenges he has inherited, and the progress we are making. We also know we need to share this progress more widely. More frequent programme and website articles will follow to address this.
Creating regular commercial income streams that we can be confident of generating on a consistent basis is very important. We start from a low base and it is not easy. There may be lots of companies out there but we still have a tough economic climate and businesses are thinking very carefully about where they spend their money. However deserving we think we are, non league football isn’t necessarily top of their priorities. This means more doors to bang on and more bells to ring than ever before. This requires more organised effort. It will take time to get to the place we want to be.
That said, the good news is that even by the end of September we have brought in more revenue from commercial and events than we did for all of last year and we believe we have a decent pipeline in place.
12th Stone is not though about making up for any shortfall in the commercial operation. 12th Stone is about going that bit further, trying to do the most we can to get the maximum money into the playing budget.
We decided this season that we would challenge ourselves to bring in more money than we have ever done – at least in the time I’ve been at the Club. The commercial targets are stretching but achievable. But we also have set ourselves the challenge of bringing in an additional £100,000 over the next two years. This is 12th Stone – additional investment, mainly by supporters, to give us the best chance of having the best team that we can.
As people invest we are looking to give a bit more back, both through shares and also something different, including unique access to players and management – but by the same token I hope people’s main driver will be to see the best Wealdstone team we can have on the park.
To be honest could this launch have gone smoother? Yes no doubt. Despite this, the 12th Stone campaign has a very important role in supporting the successful future of our Club.
I have always believed that people give what they are able to give. We have always been very fortunate at Wealdstone that we have so many people able to give – whether time, expertise or money. So if you are able to give something and want to get involved, or even just want to find out more please let me know.
I look forward to hearing from you