Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A small but significant step

Oliver Ash
It's a small but significant step: we are now completing the acquisition of the freehold of the James Whatman Way site after a lengthy negotiation process.

In little over six months we have cleared out £200k of debt that was strangling the business and turned the long leasehold into a freehold. The battles are being won at great cost but the war is long.

We also have other problems to deal with, dating back to before we took control. Unpaid taxes are an unfortunate and unpleasant subject. Terry and I are going to fight our corner and negotiate to the last penny on these issues so we reduce our costs as far as possible and free up funds for the ground.

Speaking of which there is the ground fund: now that we have secured commitments for two thirds of the money needed to build the stadium. We are asking the local aithorities to support us financially and we are also asking synthetic turf suppliers to provide flexible payment terms. I am attending an FA conference next week in Birmingham on synthetic turf and intend to return with a deal in hand.

We will keep asking supporters to share the financial burden as much as they can, hence the ticket pricing debate. Please do what you can to pay to support the club. I sincerely hope nobody will be put off coming because of the pricing, that would be a blow.

Within 18 months, assuming we have a new ground, we hope to start raising even more money from supporters far and wide, individuals and corporates, by improved client relationship management (all serious sports businesses are now focusing on it) and offering more club products for sale - but that's for later. The basic idea is to raise enough money commercially to make the business wash its face so owners don't have to keep pumping money in. Absolutely necessary I can assure you...

I won't bother mentioning actual football...June is the pro football and rugby holiday month so I'll just have to get my kicks from cricket, golf and tennis for a few weeks.