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WHAK one off

Oh come on, that just had to be written.

It’s always been one of the features of the close season, What’s Happening At Kingsmeadow, and with not much news coming out it gives your lazy bastard editor something to do fills the schedules up.

Even if it’s only to write a lewd headline.

Anyway, while we await the written version of the video, some thoughts. There’s some stuff about youngsters we’ve signed, but the quotes from Erik Samuelson are the ones you tend to listen to.

Obviously, the pitch is in its revamping stage, with all the sand on it. No doubt somebody will say that it looks better than after a Kingstonian game. Not me, honest.

It seems the Chelski influence is already taking shape, with more being put into it than we normally can afford. Even down to the irrigation, with pop up sprinklers that look cool at other venues.

One suspects, let alone hope, that now the team likely to win the PL title are involved (rather than the lot who have just buggered off to Levvred) that things will be a lot easier for us, when it comes to pitch maintenance…

There’s the usual talk about transfers, NA is already on his travels looking for replacements. Just think that about this time last year, we were (or had just been) preparing for t’Stanley in the L2 playoff semis.

At least we’ve got at least a month longer to do our enquiries this time around, though again – I doubt if we haven’t been looking since about January. Anyway, contracts don’t end until 1st July, so don’t expect much until then.

This video was obviously shot a couple of days ago, because it mentions the ex-JPT. As you know, the B-teams are back, though with a few more tweaks (and a bit more bribery) to get it through.

It’s interesting that AFCW were considering voting to scrap the entire tournament, though the pull of a trip to Wembley was ultimately too great. So we opted for the “old” EFL Trophy format instead.

While I don’t particularly like the idea of B-teams in it, the inescapable fact remains – the EFL Trophy has always been an unloved clusterfuck of a tournament, and that tradition continues.

Attendances dropped last year, agreed, but they were never that high to begin with. It’s experimented with early kick-off times, putting Conference sides in, and now the current way, and it’s never been anything more than a trip to Wembley for those who stayed the course.

And even that is considered a bit of a distraction for any team going for something like promotion.

It’s effectively now a glorified under-23 tournament, with a few more financial sweeteners for anyone who can be arsed with it. It was always interesting how NA approached it at the MTM last year, saying that it was effectively for the dough.

Yes, I know that the drop in turnout nullified that, but this is football – you expect coherence?

It’s all money for old rope, perhaps literally, which is why it’s continuing as it is. Nobody really likes the ex-JPT, it’s a tournament that is considered an annoyance, but nobody can quite bring themselves to scrapping it.

And let’s face it – clubs in L1 and L2 need the cash. Beggars can’t be that choosy.

The spectre of this being a gateway to B-teams entering the football pyramid gets brought up again. I seriously doubt it will happen, given the reaction when it got tried last time – and the FL clubs couldn’t even get the sensible bits of the Whole Game Solution in as it was, let alone anything more contentious.

Never underestimate how clubs think, especially when they’re directly at threat. Christ, they can’t even agree to make it three-up-and-three down to the Conference.

Attendances will once again be shit, but then many people boycotting wouldn’t have gone anyway. And if truth be told, most others won’t give much of a shit either way. If we got to Wembley, we’d take over five figures…

Finally, NPL. Erik has clearly learned from being bold with timescales, and he’s back to being ultra-cautious again. It does seem though that things are moving forward, albeit slower than we would like.

The fact there is now “substantial agreement” on the legal stuff is promising to hear. That there’s three legal teams involved (LBM as well as us/Galliard) basically proves why this is taking so long.

There’s obviously a bit of annoyance still with the whole Historic England bollocks, especially as we’re in a election stage. And if there’s a change of sports minister then we’ll have to wait until they get their feet under the desk, so to speak.

I get the impression the DCMS are like a lot of government departments – full of university graduate types, who are committed to public service but take about a week to decide what filling they want in their Greggs pasty.

I also get the impression that current minister Tracy Crouch isn’t the sharpest tool in the box either, and that if this was an episode of The Thick of It, she’d be portrayed as somebody bright, breezy and sitting on piles of paperwork that she hasn’t got round to looking at yet…

My own gut feeling is that as stated in the last update, we probably won’t get everything signed off until about the beginning of next season. However, I also suspect that once it is, things will move very quickly.

It’s almost like we’re getting all our ducks in a row, ready to get permission to fire the first shot at them.

Finally, it sounds like right now, it’s more or less where we budgeted. And you get the feeling Mr Samuelson appeared to enjoy imparting that bit of info more than most of the rest…