So, the players are currently enjoying their training camp in Italy, and given that our media department is apparently not going to the game (unless somebody else has paid for Slav and Rob C to be out there), we’re not going to hear too much either.
Which given the likely incidents at 3am involving a fire extinguisher, a Torino shirt and some dried linguini is probably no bad thing.
Anyway, it’s hard to believe that on Saturday week the season starts again in anger. Those still needing weening back into football watching could do worse than going down to Sheerwater to look at our dummy-suckers.
Even if you aren’t, the moment when the season tickets are arriving really makes the upcoming season hit home. Your editor was allowed another one, as it arrived at SW19 Towers this lunchtime, and it’s nice to see the players celebrating on it.
Though for the reasons we didn’t want to go through.
The most important thing about the STs is that they’ve got perforations this time. Yes, it’s amazingly trivial when you think about it, but it really was our Van Halen/brown M&M moment last season.
I guess it showed that standards and the lackadaisical attitude got too low for any sort of professional football club, and mostÂ amateur ones as well. It shouldn’t have even been an issue, let alone something that people still make sarcastic comments about even now.
There’s been none of that this time round. Indeed, as we come into our last game before the season properly starts, it’s gone remarkably smoothly. Somehow, you get the sense that somebody (more than likely NA) is actually in control and knows exactly what they’re doing.
And when it’s like this, it does give a bit of optimism. Take the Monza game – you don’t quite know what to expect, but you would be very disappointed to hear that we’ve lost 4-0. And for Torquay, you are thinking to yourself that we can get off to a good start down there…
Whether that’s misplaced or not, it’s nice not to have that inward feeling of dread before a game – hell, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to actually look forward to one without expecting one of our defenders to fuck it up.
This sense of belief may well disappear after the first minute at Plainmoor. However, if the PSFs are anything to go by, we’ve developed enough inner strength of character to overcome that.
That may explain one of the reasons we’re in Monza at the moment anyway – to become that closely bonded unit that will carry us through some very dodgy runs of form. Which we will have at some point next season, although hopefully not one that lasts nine months.
I’ve lost count of how many new players we’ve got in – nine, isn’t it? Yet oddly (and promisingly) they look more of a unit than you ever felt last year’s squad were. If they continue to “bond” – not in that way, one assumes – then we’re in for an enjoyable season.
Still, when the first home game comes we won’t be in the Tempest End any longer. Yep, it’s been renamed the EcoHouse End, which brings up so many images. Watch half the roof get cut out for purposes of “allowing in more natural sunlight”.
OK, the club claims that the deal happened because of the WAW fund (brainchild : X Wiggins) being brought to the attention of EcoHouse (International Marketing Director : X Wiggins). Stop being cynical.
It’s an interesting move though, especially as it’s ousted Tempest from some high profile sponsorship.Â And I don’t just mean that the guy who owns EcoHouse is the owner of, er, Monza…
Presumably EcoHouse have paid more than the old Tempest deal, as you hope has happened. A mere sponsorship deal, or something more than that? And does this mean that Tempest’s role in the club is slowly being phased out?
If we’re being honest here, Tempest wouldn’t really be missed if their association with us is on its way out. I suspect it isn’t, but the commercial department has acted like somebody has given it a right kick up the arse.
Two new stand sponsors, and extending two others is something that it has needed to do and has done it. There’s been other new sponsors announced this close season, and this is something that is only welcome.
We’re bound by KM’s limitations, not least our barely-existent corporate facilities, so we need to maximise what we do have commercially – without running into what has happened with the fanbase and wringing it dry.
To give an idea of how much more important commercial will turn out to be, in his PSF programme notes ES said that our website alone will earn us around Â£55k. One presumes that sponsorship deals earn five-figure sums, and stand sponsorships one of the biggest of the lot.
We’re going to need that, because costs are rising at the club. During the summer,Â I couldn’t help noticing the following comments in an OS interview with our CEO about this. Punctuation mine:
There is also substantial funding for the academy at the training ground. We have to be able to provide facilities, such as toilets and refreshments areas for parents watching games that will allow us to pass the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) audit. If we do not pass that then we will not be treated as a category three academy, otherwise we will lose out on Football League funding.
If we do not make improvements at a cost of around Â£50,000 then we will not get the Â£200,000 that the Football League and Premier League put our way for running a category three academy.
Overall, all the improvements we have to make at the ground and training ground will come to around Â£100,000.
What has happened since the We Are Wimbledon Fund launched is that people have got excited by that and have pumped money into this effort. That is brilliant because all those funds will go towards strengthening the team and securing our League 2 position, which is the most important priority.
However, there is a danger that we may lose focus on the need to raise funds in other areas. We have to try and get the balance right and remember that fund raising for other reasons, while not as exciting as helping the team, is required to ensure the survival and success of AFC Wimbledon as a Football League club.
Since that interview, and off the top of my head, we’ve also had to fund Shaun North’s wages. And people to employ in the President’s Lounge for hospitality (and is that a sign that volunteerism is declining, which is another issue in itself?). And there are doubtless other costs that I’ve temporarily forgotten.
One can’t help but think that the club were taken aback a bit (OK, a lot) with the real costs of running a L2 side off the field, let alone on it, and it’s only just coming to terms with it.
This upcoming season is going to be a great time for various aspects of the club to look at itself and upgrade. At least, if NA has grasped what is needed in the FL. The commercial department has, to its credit, already done this with Paul Strank and EcoHouse (and Tempest), but it needs to go through its whole portfolio now.
When the season ticket application book came out, it had an advert on the back which allowed any of our fans to get 10% off ad space at the ground or in the programme. That needs to stop now, if it hasn’t already.
The days of Mates Rates have to be over, because the regular costs we’re now incurring demand we do. If there’s an issue with a lack of ad space at the ground, for example, then the commercial department will need to look at what is there again and see how much of it was sold too cheaply. And renegotiate.
Yes, that may tread on a couple of well-established toes, but sentiment runs short when you’re having to shell out Â£100k on training facilities alone. Costs aren’t going to decrease from now on, if anything they’re just going to get bigger, and getting a new sponsor on board is a start.
After all, being a Football League club isn’t cheap…