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Summertime (yellow and) Blues

An update. Because I feel almost contractually obliged to.

It’s not going to be much of one, simply because a month after the season ended there hasn’t actually been a lot going on.

True, we made our first signing of the close season in Matty Stevens, and he’s the kind of transfer I expect we’ll be making more of.

He certainly knows how to find the net, which isn’t something you can say for a lot of our strikers, and I wonder if he’s going to be Manbun’s replacement?

One player we won’t see up front next season is Ronan Curtis, who has gone to Port Vale.

It’s a shame, although I think we were only a short-term option for him. Being offered three years and presumably a lot more cash pretty much sealed that particular deal for him.

He did seem to enjoy his time with us, leaving us a nice goodbye message on social media. And we’ll always have THAT goal.

Other than that, it’s, well, quiet…

The fixtures get released in late June, the 26th to be precise (a whole month from today), and then it does feel that 24/25 is on the horizon.

We get to play Franchise again next season, after their glorious semi-final humiliation against Crawley.

Who to their credit did what we did in the 2016 final and now get to enjoy League One football for at least one season. Maybe they’ll make a better fist of it than we did?

I can’t remember writing about Bromley being an EFL club, but I’m sure we can relive lots of happy memories at their place.

Stop laughing.

To be fair to them, they’ve been slowly gearing up for being a league club for a few seasons now, and it might have been inevitable that they finally make that leap.

Their rise wasn’t like Sutton’s, who had the right group of players at the right time and took perhaps their one shot at League football. Which they held for three seasons.

Swapping Gander Green Lane for Hayes Lane isn’t the best trade off though, and you just know we’ll have the inevitable fixture against them on either Boxing Day or NYD, where we’ll lose.

Wonder if like Crawley they’ll make a bid for being our rivals? I’d rather they focus on Gillingham though, they can swap caravan buying lists together.

We haven’t even had the pseudo joy of finding out our pre-season friendlies, which always cause more excitement than they should do.

I’m sure they will involve the following names – Met Police, Sutton, Woking and Ipswich.

Oh, and we’re off to Benidorm again. Your editor’s hopes that we’d have some weekend in an obscure Austrian town playing some tourmanent in a tiny athletics stadium are dashed once again.

And that’s all really properly worth writing about.

There’s been precious little transfer moment in or out, we haven’t even had the dodgy transfer rumour mill from dodgy transfer rumour sites.

When the only news of note this week is a former loanee of ours (Lemonhead) going to Franchise, you know how quiet it is.

Incidentally, I really don’t give much of a toss if one of last year’s midfielders wishes to ply his trade in front of 2000 incels at Stadium:MT each week.

Or any player, to be honest. Football careers are pitifully short, and at this level especially you can be chucked onto the proverbial scrapheap at short notice.

While I don’t like the way some players flaunt their wealth, I certainly don’t blame them for going for the highest pay cheque.

And I’m not much more bothered if a couple of our current squad are giving kudos to him on an official Franchise social media account.

Granted, you rather they didn’t, but it’s a very harsh lesson too many fans still need to learn – the only people who will be loyal to a club are the supporters.

None of our squad would be here if they get a better offer elsewhere. Hell, JJ would be off if somebody else made a better contract with more transfer funds this bank holiday Monday.

And I wouldn’t blame any of them for doing so.

This is why I cringe whenever I hear about the need (if not obsession) of the club attempting to “tell its story”.

Why? Anyone who genuinely cares about it will know it already, and anyone who doesn’t won’t find it particularly relevant or – dare I say it – interesting.

It’s clear that some of our current players (who will have been lectured about it as soon as they signed) treat the whole thing like Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses, when he goes “during the war”.

Some won’t like hearing that. But they’ll have to get more and more used to it.

Finally, and I saw this while researching, there were some video clips of meeting the PLC and an update from Mick Buckley a couple of weeks ago.

I don’t think either will tell us something we didn’t already know, but it’s good that we’re finally – finally – making use of the facilities we built on non-matchdays.

While covid (remember that?) and a club that was unprepared to make the step up to Plough Lane** are two massive factors, it’s been a pretty piss poor return up to now.

** – yes, I’m being charitable. It’s the close season.

One wonders if James Woodroof has already made the required impact, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence it’s definitely more used since he arrived.

And sweating the asset is never a bad thing. As long as we’re charging a decent enough rate for it, and not renting it at too low a level just to get people using it.

Doing it “mates rates” should only be on occasions, but at AFCW it’s often felt like that’s the whole commercial strategy.

The question is, how much difference will generating as much as we can from the ground make in the grand scheme of things?

Inflation is about to go up, things are costing more anyway, and in the case of football wages only ever seem to go upward.

Any increased payment from the Premier League to the lower tier clubs, and the new Sky Sports deal, are going to pump up player contracts even more.

We wouldn’t be immune from that, and I bet it would surprise some to discover how much we’re paying out even now – even at our low level.

Lending out PL each day may ease the pressure on the day-to-day running costs, but like player sales we’ll quickly find you can’t rely on it to boost the budget.

I expect we’ll eventually do what everyone else in the EFL does and forget trying to be sustainable, because otherwise we won’t be an EFL club anyway.

But then, for many if not most of those who watch our games each weekend, that would be a price worth paying…

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