A big welcome for a massive game today and not least to the Supporters, Directors and Players of Slough Town FC. Slough have had an amazing season so far with a televised game against Rochdale being the prize for their FA Cup endeavours and I am sure that they have enjoyed the ride whilst it lasted as well as boosting the coffers with much needed funds.
We are missing a couple of key players today and so the lads will need all the support that you can give them to get them over the line, a lot of fans will feel that it is a must win game and I guess it could be argued it is as much a must win game as a don’t lose game. Whatever happens it is bound to be a rollercoaster of emotions and I am sure that we are in for a fascinating game of football.
Time is very short for me today so I need to be brief as we have a lot to get through.
Firstly lets cover the pricing issue first. It was decided last season that 3 games this season would cost £ 3 more for entry save those fans that had bought season tickets or membership cards where the pricing would remain the same – benefits of being regular fans. I originally chose the boxing day fixture against St.Ives as one of those fixtures simply for the reason that there is a lot of visitors that time of year to the town and I doubt that many would be fussed about an admission price of £ 12 or £ 15 – you are either going to go to a game or not. Social media went into uproar when the prices were announced and I decided to reverse the pricing policy for this game and make it at the usual prices, as the focus should be on the team on the pitch not on arguments over £ 3 off the pitch.
Now I understand party why this happened, fans with all due respect to St.Ives do not feel that they are worthy opponents for a £ 15 price ticket but are happy to pay the price for the Hereford’s and Kettering’s of this world and I can understand their point. However their seems to be so many misconceptions over how much money we take at the gate and a lot of other issues so I will summarise the main gripes and answer them individually
1 We are being greedy. Greed would mean that someone is earning money out of the club and as all I do is put money in and others put in their time no one can be accused of being greedy
2 Wisbech is only £ 7 so one or two of our "fans" fancied dropping down a couple of leagues to watch their style of football. Well I know what Wisbech’s budget is and it's around 20 -25% of our budget so if you follow that argument then their admission price should be 25% of £ 12 which is £ 3, so they are charging over double what they should be charging!
3 If we get 800 as an attendance we get £ 8,000 in gate receipts – complete nonsense. Our gate includes carers and children, who do not pay, season ticket holders who already have, Under 19’s at a greatly reduced price, sponsors, player guests etc and my guess is that only around 55% of the attendance are those paying full price and concessions. If we had 800 of those paying full whack we would still lose money but it would be a massive step in the right direction
4 Reduce the price even further and more will come – it’s a nice soundbite but a huge risk if it does not work. We had a pay what you want for our home tie against Attleborough with a suggest minimum donation of £ 5 and less than 8 people paid more than that price, so I ask you would you do in my shoes - reduce the price further in a gamble that we may get more fans in?
As fans we have to ask ourselves do we want a team playing attractive football and are we prepared to occasionally pay a little more for it to happen? I was disappointed with the Redditch crowd, an attractive fixture on a Saturday, us being top of the league and yet the attendance was not great. I know that most of you reading these notes will not be responsible for that as you would have been here, and I know from emails that I have receieved that you were as disappointed as I was about the attendance. Cutting prices does not get more people in, if that were true we would have 1000 children in every game as they do not pay at all. Sure price has an effect but it is not the be all and end all and we also need to try and run the club as sustainably as we can.
I know that we need to do more to entice fans in earlier and we are trying to put together a match highlights package and exclusive interviews to entice you to spend your money on beer here before a game as opposed to local pubs who keep it all themselves, but these things do take time as well as investment.
Anyway disappointed that I am with the reaction the cost for attending the St Ives game will be the same as every other game this season.
Moving on I am delighted that Darryn Faivelowitz of CTS Security here in King’s Lynn has committed to upgrade our CCTV system with HD cameras focusing on inside and outside the stadium. Darryn along with Sam O’Callaghan from the Norfolk Building Company (who have put barbed wire up on the external fence) have answered our call to help when we had our intruder problem and I am very grateful to them both for their help. Both have provided their goods and labour on a complimentary basis to the club and I am sure that like me you are delighted that they have come to assist us in our time of need.
We will be running a Ray Hall soccer course in the February half term over 2 days and I am delighted to inform you that this will take place in Holt at Gresham’s school. I have been working on this for a while and Gresham’s will become a great partner to our club and I will explain more about that venture in my next notes. We will be putting on a free mini bus from King’s Lynn but capacity is at a maximum of 40 as we need to go indoors if the weather does not hold up (our last Feb course had over 50 budding footballers on it) so please book early at our web site. Ray and I inspected Gresham's facilities recently and Ray rates the facilities as good as any level 2 acadamy and it is a real chance for us to develop a hub longer term in an area of the county where we have no presence and work in partnership with a go ahead school. Please do not think that the school is in any way elitist it is quite the opposite, welcoming and inclusive, indeed they give full scholarships to some children who cannot afford the fees; something that is sadly not appreciated by everyone. Gresham's themselves will be marketing the course to local children but I am giving you the heads up so you can book in early.
At this time of year I often reflect on how the year has gone and whilst there is always room for improvement I can see the building blocks being put into place that will allow this club to develop and grow and hopefully achieve league status one day.
I appreciate that we do not always get everything right and for that I apologise, but there is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to enable this club to fulfil its aims; we are all aiming for the same end result - success.
I would like to wish you all a happy Christmas and hope that you enjoy spending time with your families and if by boxing day you are feeling the effects of "cabin fever" you know where to come.
Enjoy the Game.