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It starts again tomorrow

Well, sort of. [NOTE: features update]

Close season is officially over, Saturdays are no longer football free, and by the time we play Watford tomorrow we’ll either be confident of the new season ahead or panicking when we get gubbed 5-0.

Many people will have taken advantage of that AleFC Wimbledon thingy, where they can enjoy their swig of Molested Stepchild, or a special American brew called the Kurt Cobain. So-called because it’s very bitter and has got no head…

To be honest, watching tomorrow under the influence might not be a bad thing. We’re going to be rusty anyway, and Eastleigh’s chavvy approach hasn’t helped matters one bit. Needless to say, Pompey were quick to call their game with them off PDQ too, and as somebody put it earlier this week – when Newport think you’ve got a shit pitch…

Obviously we’re not going to get an apology from the South Coast any time soon, that would require a bit too much honour and honesty from them. Guess that will teach us not to put a game this midweek just gone.

Come to think of it, our pre-season schedule doesn’t seem to make much sense. We’ve got tomorrow, then next Friday at home to Burton. But for some reason we’ve got three games in five days.

With Aldershot on the Friday then Ebbsfleet the following day, it won’t be the starting XI that you would expect at Scunny, so you wonder why we’ve done it this way. I guess it will be like the leaving-nobody-up-at-opposition-corners mantra – only those involved in the secret world of football can ever understand why it’s done…

Given our reluctance to play anywhere that might cost us more than £10 in diesel, we don’t get pre-season tours like other teams in this division. But we are back at KM, with its nice looking pitch and fresh licks of paint.

And a Kingstonian-free zone too. At least the smell we’ll continue to endure will just be the sewerage now.

And we’ll get to see at least some of the squad taking shape. All five of our new signings are playing a part tomorrow, and it will take as long as ten minutes for certain quarters to deem them shit and a waste of money.

[SW19 update, 13h00 on 15/7/2017 – he’s only gone and signed for us on a year’s loan…]

What we won’t see tomorrow is Jimmy Abdou. Actually, we won’t see him at all because he’s signed a one-year deal with Millwall. We move on, but we’re getting to that stage of the pre-season where you can start leaving it too late for new players.

I would hope by the Burton game we’ve filled in at least one more position, because after that you start to get into panic-buying. I know that you can still add to the squad by the time we play Barnet in the ex-JPT, but we will have had to fail in every further transfer bid between now and then for us to get to that stage.

Again, we’re not going to figure out who’s going to do what until the season starts, so unless tomorrow turns into that infamous Reading game there shouldn’t be too much to give us cold sweats.

While PSFs aren’t purely about fitness, and thankfully NA never has that attitude with them, you can get away with a lot of stuff in them.

We’ll find out a lot more tomorrow. In the meantime, the club has finally implemented its CRM. What that basically means is that whenever somebody buys a ticket, or a piece of merchandise, or just “has something to do with the club” (even if it’s sending an email), AFCW can get their details and keep them in the loop.

Why does that matter? Well, with NPL inching closer, we’ll need to keep in touch with the once-a-season brigade, the ones who turned out at Wombley, and convert them from occasional attendees to people more involved regularly.

That means less pressure financially on the existing 4k, and yes – an ability to generate more funds from more people. That’s a slightly (OK, very) cynical way of looking at it, but as this summer has proven you can’t keep dipping into the pockets of the same people every season.

We now have a proper ticket facility, and an online shop presence that doesn’t look like it was slung together on a drunken night in 2004. I don’t buy merchandise at all, but on the odd occasions I glanced it made us look quite tinpot.

And I was never 100% sure about buying a ticket in advance on the old site, because it looked like one of the first websites that took online payment. At least it now looks the part, and belongs in 2017.

It just makes AFCW more, well, professional. A percentage of this club still has some deeply amateur ways of doing things, and with some attitudes to match. True, it’s not nearly as bad as it was, but there are still some who believe because it worked in 2002 in the CCL think a L1 club today has to keep it.

It doesn’t. And I’m not convinced it worked back then either.

One suspects the debacle over the Sutton tickets made many in the club realise we need to start looking after our regular fans a bit more. At the very least, anyone who goes to away games and purchases from the club beforehand shouldn’t be penalised despite their loyalty any more.

True, our communications can be better at times. The club needs to tell people about whether they need to re-subscribe to this new iFollow, for instance. But we’re moving towards improving that, even if it happens slowly.

As a quick aside here – the new OS seems to be received a bit lukewarm, though personally I don’t think it’s too bad. It’s better than the one we got rid of, and I’m shocked at how bad the “original” one looks these days.

You can read our new one without having to click on annoying banners, for a start…

Finally, although NPL doesn’t seem to be moving forward, it turns out that it most certainly is. On Twatter this week, councillor Abby Jones stated the s106s will be signed “imminently”, and in the meantime we’re already working on the drainage and the traffic control.

OK, we still have to work how how imminent the usage of the work “imminent” is. Since the SoS signed off last September, and notwithstanding that Historic England bollocks, it’s been all a bit Waiting for Godot.

We know that these things aren’t five minute jobs, especially as you have to sign a number of agreements to get the final planning permission. And yes, every “t” needs to be dotted and “i” crossed. Or something.

But you do sense that finally – finally – the finishing line is in sight. Your editor did state recently that he wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t get signed until August. I still haven’t changed my mind with that, and if they’re still not completed by September or even October we have a right to start asking questions.

That said, I doubt if anyone (us, Galliard, LBM, anyone else) wants this dragging out any more now, and collectively we just want to get the bulldozers in. I know it took Brentford almost as long to start their initial works on Lionel Road, so we shouldn’t be surprised.

I suspect though once the first piece of paper gets signed and officially approved, the rest will follow pretty quickly. And it’s going to be a glorious sight to see…