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Spaghetti Hoops

To think the season starts again a fortnight tomorrow…

And it’s back to SW17 in just over 24 hours, to meet up with Gareth Ainsworth and at least 2000 from west London.

On paper we should get gubbed by a Championship side, but it seems like their own fans aren’t confident about the season ahead.

That sounds remarkably like Reading supporters were last year, and they’re watching League One football next season.

As for us, we’re going to need to up our game, because Woking wasn’t good enough.

While I forgot virtually all of that game the minute I pressed “Publish” on this writeup last Saturday, it was a horrible feeling of deja vu.

Labouring to get any sort of shot on target, and the closest we got to scoring was via our new keeper.

Tomorrow is another game though, and I guess we’ll see a sharper and more focused side.

I would expect Bass to feature again, and while JJ says all keepers are fighting it out, he looks more effective than the other two already.

So watch him let in five against QPR.

To be honest, I expect either Broome or Tzanev to be going out on loan before the window shuts.

Personally, I would prefer both to be wearing another team’s shirt this season. Broome needs game time and the Bulgarian Kiwi remains part of the back line that folded far too easily when it matters for so long.

Which leads us on to perhaps the biggest news of the week – Will Nightingale has gone to Scotland.

On loan at Ross County until January, at the moment, although he might end up doing a Zach Robinson.

I think most will be saddened that somebody who came through the ranks (our first “proper” one in the AFCW era?) is no longer at the club.

But he highlights the danger of the One-Of-Our-Own romance that infects this club sometimes.

Being injury prone was one thing, but he was never quite consistent enough to be a guaranteed starter when he was fit.

It wasn’t his fault that he was offered a 3.5 year deal by MR, which was sentiment and emotion at its most damaging.

I don’t know how much we need to contribute to his wages, and I certainly wouldn’t call him a wage thief.

But there’s a mental list of those we’d like gone from the club, and this week one of them did exactly that.

Who knows whether the others will be moved on, but we’ll get an idea if they feature tomorrow.

One thing is certain though – there’s going to be a number of disappointed people if Lee Brown and Alex Woodyard are named.

Finally, it seems the programme is in trouble.

No, it hasn’t gone rogue and called Franchise a bunch of pigeon molesters who hang around primary school gates, but financially.

I don’t know what the “five figure sum in production costs” is, or whether that’s over a week, a month or a season.

If it’s £10,000 for the season then it sounds managable, but one suspects it’s not that.

Confession time here : I haven’t bought a programme since 2004/05, bar the very first PL one against Doncaster, and once you get out of that habit it’s very hard to return.

Your editor spoke last week with somebody involved in the production of it, and they too admitted they didn’t buy it.

Although given what he was involved with, perhaps he didn’t need to.

Many will lament it going digital only if it comes to that, which is something I fully expect to happen eventually.

The biggest problem it has is that it’s slowly becoming obsolete anyway.

The player interviews are dull as fuck most of the time, as you’re never going to get anything juicy.

Things like match reports and club news can be found almost instantly on t’internet, ditto the tables and player stats.

Anything that *is* exclusively for the programme ends up either ignored or put on the Official Site at some point anyway.

Couple that with the ever-increasing costs of printing, and you’ve got something for £3 where you can get almost the same info for nowt.

Oh, and the amount of adverts in them is a common complaint. And advertisers demand higher readership when they commit money.

There’s the inevitable “but I’ve always bought a programme” reaction, which is understandable – indeed, the club acknowledges that.

Although if matchdays wouldn’t be the same without it for most fans, it wouldn’t be making a five-figure loss.

Like the licence fee and the Dons Trust, demographics are likely to send the printed programme into the same place as Clubcall.

Programme buyers either tend to be the traditionalists, who are older, dads buying souvenirs for their kids, or collectors.

The club is clearly banking on the offspring of the middle one continuing, but those under 40 seem to be fully digital these days.

I expect the programme itself will continue as pixels, those who live abroad/away from London are very keen on it still.

But take it from me who works in the industry – the printed publication is dying.

It will still exist for specialist periodicals, like magazines and books, but I worked out recently that 60% of what I do on weekends during the season is online now.

That’s doubled in the space of about three years, and will do the same by 2026.

Our programme isn’t going to fight that, no matter how good it may or may not be, and it’s no wonder lower league clubs are looking to axe them.

It will be a shame if and when it does go, but it’s probably doomed. And I don’t think cutting the pages down will help one bit.

Mind you, bearing in mind our form the past few seasons – why would you pay to read the same excuses on why we’re so shit…?

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