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Pre Oldham thoughts

The next installment of the Biggest Game Of The Season™ awaits. And it might well live up to that title…

Make no mistake, tomorrow against the Latics may go a long way to deciding what division we’re in next season. Get it right, and hope Bradford and Southend have their scoring boots on, and the last three games look a helluva lot easier.

Get it wrong…

Actually, defeat tomorrow won’t relegate us, but it could put a major dent in the confidence and mentality again. Especially if results elsewhere go against us.

The game at KM is certainly no foregone conclusion. We will need to show exactly the same application as we did in the second half against Walsall, and the game against Charlton.

We’ll also need to do it without Will Nightingale for the rest of the season, who’s got another major injury. You really do have to wonder if he’ll be in the game within three years, especially if he gets fit and then gets crocked again.

After tomorrow, we’ll have three games left. And I just hope we don’t have to rely on Paul Robinson.

What’s clear is that there is a bit of expectancy for this game. I even heard somebody this week saying they’re looking forward to kickoff. And when was the last time you heard that?

As ever, we shall see. It would be nice to have a relatively relaxing last couple of fixtures, because the full time whistle against Bury cannot come quick enough. Fortunately, that’s just fifteen days away…

Onto other things. The open meeting was last night, and it sounds like the club were, ahem, fully made aware of their balls-up with the “80%” season ticket fiasco. Expect a u-turn quicker than you can say “non returnable”.

It’s been a farce, hasn’t it? Classic sign of a tone-deaf attitude, and it was half-baked idea poorly executed. Yes, there may be a few empty seats in the John Green that should be better redistributed, but it’s not like there’s swathes of them.

Sledgehammer, meet walnut. But then, that’s what happens when you talk at supporters, not with them.

Anyway, the initial lessons may be getting learned, as the OS is asking for anyone to return spares. No mailshot though, but it’s a start. Just don’t start suggesting things like “incentives” yet though.

I didn’t go to the open meeting, on the basis that I find the KM bars so unpleasant that I really didn’t want to spend a couple of hours in sweltering conditions there. At least others were able to make the points that needed to be made.

When was the last time we did something like this? At least non-league days, and I’m struggling to think of many other such gatherings even then. I think we should do these sort of things once every three months during the season, because it might help nip things in the bud than simply letting things build up like they have.

I know they trying to push the whole DT thing, but the “ordinary” fans are the ones you have to cultivate most of all, rather than the already committed who goes to all the SGMs and what have you.

After all, they’re the ones who will simply vote with their feet if things aren’t going well. And it’s their money the club will miss most of all.

A couple of other tidbits that came out. Don’t think much has changed on the football side of things, but as they say in politics – events, dear boy. And it’s not like you’re going to hear criticism from club officials in public.

An interesting aside was about the club having initial talks about groundsharing. It’s not the best kept secret about London Irish, but apparently (and intriguingly) there are other interested parties as well.

Wonder who? Another rugby club? Kingstonian? I’d laugh at the reaction of some of their fans if that happened. Dog racing? Speedway?

Still, the club’s attitude seems to be, show us the money if you’re really interested.

I don’t expect anything to happen before the first full season at NPL. Get all teething troubles out of the way first, especially with parking. And it will need to go through LBM, as they haven’t given permission for groundsharing.

But that kind of thing is far easier to push through with an existing, established stadium than one not constructed yet.

Would it piss off the local residents? Maybe, maybe not – but that’s why you go through another set of planning permissions, to see how much genuine objection there would be.

For what it’s worth, and I hope somebody in charge is making notes here, we should do what Harlequins do – click under “Local Residents” and you’ll see drop-in sessions and a non-matchday contact.

Mind you, if AFCW listens to those who live around NPL in the same way as it has listened to its own supporters recently…

Should we consider groundsharing? Ideally, you’d prefer not to, but we’ll need to ease the financial burden. And if the sums are right, I wouldn’t have much of a problem with it. Stadia are under-utilised, often criminally, and on that score it would make sense.

Finally, we’re entering mediation with the EFL and Franchise over the scoreboard/programme/whatever it was we were charged with. Good to see that it’s only taken from September to finally reach some kind of decision.

To be honest, it’s probably the best conclusion all round, because a formal three man commission would have caused more aggro than what it would have been worth – regardless of the outcome.

Imagine us getting fined a large sum?

I don’t think it’s the EFL backtracking so much, because as said at the time on SW19 – they hold the rulebook and you ultimately don’t “win” against them. And I haven’t changed my viewpoint from back then that much.

It’s more a realisation that a line needs to be drawn under a lot of this now. We’ve proved our point, successfully too, but to keep trying to reprove it it just becomes counter productive – especially if we start racking up fine after fine.

Indeed, I found this bit in our statement telling:

Both boards agreed that the Club should participate because we believe that continuing as we are is a distraction from focusing on our future in a new stadium back in Plough Lane, and on continuing our advance through the leagues.

Nor is it helpful to the Club’s long term interests to be regularly at odds with its governing body.

We’ll always despise Franchise, but the club now needs different ways of demonstrating what it will always think. Especially as we may need the EFL onside in future years.

In other words, we have more important things to worry about these days, with the future development of the club and the move back home. And I’d rather we focus our energy on that.

What will come out of these sessions remains to be seen. Maybe Franchise will drop the “Dons” nickname? I note that Sturman is involved in this for us, and with his track record we might even get an apology from them…