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Here we go again

Goodbye close season, we hardly knew you…

So, all talk is now over. The preparations are finalised. From now on, and for the next nine months or so – every game matters.

It’s been an odd close season, probably because despite the last campaign finishing on the 4th May (nearly three months ago), it seems to have flown by without us making too many changes.

That’s not quite true, needless to say. We’ve got six in, and however many we turfed out, although we’re in a situation where the only way we can get another player in is to let one go.

The club has pretty much admitted in black and white what Walter has been saying about “overspend”, and it’s starting to come out what poor decision making there has been in the last couple of years.

What’s done is done though, and the main hope for the season ahead is that it hasn’t damaged us too much.

One can be forgiven for just a little bit of trepidation. The expectations of a massive overhaul got dampened when we discovered that shifting contracted players isn’t that easy after all.

This is League One. Not non-league.

That said, it’s worth remembering that we still have a large part of the squad intact, the same bunch of players that only lost twice from the Burton game onwards. That does count for a lot.

And if we continue to work hard, learn how to battle and remain solid and organised, that’s all we probably need to be for 2019/20.

While the PSFs were mixed, it did show a couple of things. I definitely think we benefited from having so many of them. Chances are, we knew who our starting XI will be by the Met Police game.

The Palace game earlier this week (apart from being £15 standing for a Chuckaturd type fixture, a piss take and a half) was basically a fight for players to get themselves on the bench for tomorrow.

As a spectacle, it was quite entertaining, and we deserved the last minute equaliser. But that game, and Brizzle City/AFCB suggested something that will help us immensely this campaign.

Namely, the ability to come back in games.

We may not have the talent throughout the side, although it should be said that many clubs in this division will have paid a lot of money on ordinary players, so we have to do the next best thing.

We look fit, and it’s a good sign that during the Palace game there was a sense of just wanting to knuckle down and get the upcoming campaign going.

What will happen this upcoming season? Who knows, but I’m glad we’re in L1.

I don’t buy the theory that somebody on Tuesday was coming out with, which was suggesting we would have been better going down and rebuilding in L2. I’m not sure if our spending power would have been as good as some think, and besides – nothing good comes out of relegation.

It’s far better to stabilise in L1, get the gap between the yoof and the first team up to scratch (which is happening more and more now), and move this club up to the next level.

We can become a L1 level club. We just need to start doing it properly from now on.

As you well know, the Seedrs thing finally launched this week. At the time of writing, we’ve made about £1.1m in under 48 hours,  and I don’t think it’s gone on general issue yet.

While I still doubt we’ll get the £3m, the initial signs are encouraging. £2m is do-able, especially if the campaign starts building momentum.

And after the last update, we’ve finally got a proper list of the perks and incentives. Which is quite interesting…

I expect many people who aren’t planning to put anything in will probably donate a token £10 (or £50) just to say they’ve contributed. Having your name up on a wall/plaque does at least give you something tangible.

The perk if you put £100 in doesn’t seem particularly enticing, unless you’re into scarves and pins, and to be honest £250 doesn’t sound much better. I’m sure you’ll be able to get tickets for most games regardless.

A brick is nicer than a plaque, but not by that much.

But then, the club is after those with a bit more money, as the £500 offer suggests. I suppose the only good thing about the sponsor-a-urinal thing (described as “bric-a-brac” by an SW19 reader this week) is that it’s only for a year.

It does come across as a bit gimmicky and cheapens the whole thing, but then this club does have its moments like this.

Remember the “Fans Stadium” bollocks? An idea created by an ad agency that forgot all about the mentality of how football fans really think.

Thankfully, that got shelved and has been long forgotten, but you just know that the first three people who will have their name “paraded” in the karzy will be Wankie, Koppout and Hammam.

There will be a lot of things in the first NPL season that need to be got out of various systems. And we’ll be better off when they are.

It’s when you put in £10k which is when things start getting a little more, well, “perky”. Attending training sessions and lunch with the players (Satan help them) is something the Yellow and Blue Club currently does.

Which may give you some idea of how much Y&B members pay beyond their £1000 membership fee.

For £20k you can get to lunch with Walter and a player of your choice. With some of them, that could be a meeting of minds I don’t think.

But one suspects these are for those who can afford to buy a new BMW every year but don’t quite have the funds to go higher. Which is why the perks for just thirty grand more seem a lot more enticing.

And not just for the round of golf either.

I assume those in the Y&B Club might end up becoming “Club Patrons”. It’s not bad, especially if you want to do some hob-nobbing.

But the real perks come for those willing to pay the six-figure sums, and the demographic the club is really after.

Access to the boardroom as a Vice President equals influence. “Soft” influence at that, and to be blunt I’d rather we be honest and say that’s what is happening now.

I don’t really pay much attention to anything DT related, but on the odd occasions I do, I note there’s a couple of people on the board who I don’t ever recall standing for election.

True, “that’s the way it is”, and all that, and we certainly can’t be sniffy/idealistic about it any more. If we ever could.

But it’s been the case for a while through stealth. Does anyone really believe people like Mike Richardson, Iain McNay and Paul Strank have no more influence (that word again) than your average supporter?

What that will do to the dynamic of how the club operates in future remains to be seen, though I suspect 96% of the support base won’t care.

Speaking of the DT and NPL, it seems that reality has finally bitten with regards the consultation of the layout. As in, there won’t be one now.

To be honest, I think that was a tad over-optimistic, considering the delays (not just those from the new UK PM but signing the s106s, Historic England etc).

And even if a consultation was viable most of what people suggest would be too expensive to implement anyway.

While we got the planning stage spot on, the bit after that does pose some questions : did the club try and take on too much over it? Did changing contractors when we did actually save money?

Did we properly keep an eye on the rising costs? If so, why does every update now effectively say costs have risen again? Can we afford (literally) any more mishaps? If not, then what?

And were we a bit too over-cautious over the whole thing after all?

Once we’re sitting down in SW19 again, you won’t be too bothered. But we’re going to get a “bowl”, and more importantly (IMO) we’re not going to have any pillars in the way blocking the view.

And really, we just have to get the damn thing built now. It doesn’t matter if it’s basic and/or functional, because it’s a football stadium – not a RIBA award nominee.

True, the risk of it getting badly constructed is always there (and something quite likely, TBH), but we now need to start building the thing.

By all means use the time the piling is going on to just do a few more cost-saving refinements. But once we’re ready to start – do it.

You can be too anal over something that the vast majority aren’t either going to notice, or care about. A modification that saves £200k is one thing, one that saves £20k isn’t worth the aggro.

And fiddling over something that may save £20k is likely to end up costing £200k anyway.

One senses we’re not going to open next August (though I’ve long felt September/October is more realistic – even the club’s ST blurb says this is the last full season at KM, suggesting some leeway).

How long can it take? The trouble is, trying to find comparisons isn’t always easy.

Fulham’s Riverside Stand is set to take two seasons, but it’s got to be demolished first (and it’s a lot more grandeous than our West Stand). Barnet’s ground took ten years to build, of which about nine years of it wasn’t anything to do with construction.

Brentford’s ground might be a good comparison. That’s going up quite quickly, although they’ve resisted the temptation to move from Griffin Park mid-season.

The new stand at Bromley took something like eight months, and probably won’t look too dis-similar to our temporary semi-permanent stands.

So yeah, a year of construction might well be do-able after all. If we resist the temptation to keep fiddling with it…

And that’s really it from SW19 until the new season kicks off tomorrow. At the time of writing, I should be there as a paying punter.

We’ll have some highs and lows, although we’ve had far too many of the latter in the last couple of seasons.

I don’t think there’s the fear of recent campaigns, and one senses people are starting to enjoy going to games again.

Anything can happen, and it’s the one time of the season where every team is equal. Which is something that normally ends about 3.01pm…