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Monday 14 June 2010
What's happening at Kingsmeadow - and Southport - number 3

It is now only two weeks until the squad returns for pre-season training and so we start with where Terry has got to in building his team for 2010-11.

Starting at the back, we have two goalkeepers in Seb Brown and Jack Turner, two right backs in Ryan Jackson and Sam Hatton (who we hope will confirm his contract renewal when he returns from holiday) and a new left back in Andre Blackman.

There has been a lot of speculation about the centre back position and now that Terry Brown is back from a brief overseas holiday he will be aiming to recruit an experienced player by the end of the week. Nothing is certain in such matters, however, and negotiations can take quite a while, but he is hopeful.

Terry aims to have three centre backs in what will be a small squad. He has come to an agreement with a league club to take two young players on long term loan - a centre back and a midfielder. However, the league club wants both these players to start pre-season with them and, since we never make announcements until the players have signed the forms, we are keeping the details under wraps. But, unless something goes adrift in the next few weeks, we regard this as a done deal.

In midfield, we have Steven Gregory, Ricky Wellard, Lee Minshull and the league loan player mentioned above. Terry has a few players under review and they’ve been offered the chance to come to pre-season and to play in some of the friendlies, to enable him to decide which, if any, to take.

Up front, we have Danny Kedwell, Jon Main, Luke Moore, Mark Nwokeji and Christian Jolley. Terry continues to look at a possible back up for Danny Kedwell and there may be some triallists looking to fill that space. More players become available by the day as the summer moves shake down, so things may move quickly if the right man becomes available.

Since the last ‘What’s happening at Kingsmeadow’ Mark Nwokeji has signed. The day before Dagenham & Redbridge appeared in the play off final Terry spoke to their manager John Still to register an interest in Mark Nwokeji and, once the final was over, it became clear he was available.

Terry moved over the weekend and agreed terms with Mark who would have signed sooner but a family matter meant he was unable to get to Kingsmeadow for a medical until the Wednesday. The medical results were fine but, given that Mark had a posterior cruciate ligament injury (the same as Jon Main’s injury) 18 months ago, we sent him for a scan which happened over the weekend. We expect the results to be clear and then the final paperwork can be despatched to the FA. This means we have dropped our interest in the other striker referred to in the last ‘WHAK’.

Meanwhile the squad are expected to report for training sessions for at least three of the Thursdays during the close season, to monitor their progress on the diet and fitness regimes they’ve been given by fitness coach Jason Moriarty.

The reserves' pre-season fixtures are starting to fill up, starting at Sandhurst on Friday 9 July, to kick off Sandhurst’s centenary season celebrations. We expect that a fair number of Dons fans will take a stroll down memory lane to visit the site of our first competitive fixture, nearly eight years ago. Another announced reserve team fixture is Godalming Town, where we also played in our CCL days, away on Tuesday 10 August.

The Kingsmeadow pitch looks in fine shape and almost good enough to play on already, thanks to the fairly early start on renovation and the near-perfect weather we’ve had, with lots of sunshine interspersed by a few rainy days. There are still nearly four weeks for the final patches, mainly around the goalmouths, to fill in and make for a superb surface for our first pre-season game against Charlton Athletic’s first team.

Off the pitch it is the time for end of season presentations and annual general meetings. Last week saw Club Secretary David Charles representing the club at the Surrey Youth League agm on Monday, where the Under 13s received their awards for winning the league and league cup from Surrey FA councillor John Young. John announced that at the Surrey FA presentation night a special award will be made to the Under 13s for their fantastic efforts in becoming English champions. It was noticeable that the club was very warmly received by all the other teams at the agm. David then attended the Suburban League agm on Wednesday and, of course, he and Chief Executive Erik Samuelson attended the Football Conference Congress at Southport over last weekend.

In total, Erik spent three days in Southport, first of all attending a meeting of the Conference’s Financial Reporting Working Party (FRWP), looking at ways that the Board can help Conference clubs to be financially sustainable and avoid the problems that arise when clubs such as Chester and Farsley Celtic drop out during the season. The Conference board calls for quarterly reports from clubs, monitoring their financial health and, where appropriate, imposing registration embargoes on clubs which appear to be spending beyond their means.

On Friday there was a meeting of the Conference Board itself, which was largely focused on the business to be covered at the next day’s agm. The agm itself was a fairly brief meeting where Erik (who was co-opted during the year and so had to stand for election) and two other board members were formally re-elected onto the three available board places; a fourth candidate stood down at the last minute, so that there was no need for a vote.

The main business at the agm was the integration of ‘Appendix E’ into the main rules. Appendix E is the much reported Conference rule which requires that if a club gets into financial difficulties and enters into a CVA (a company voluntary agreement) it must pay 100p in the pound to all its creditors. The Conference takes the view that it isn’t right that local businesses, St John Ambulance etc should only get, say, 20p in the pound while football creditors (i.e. players and other clubs) get paid in full, as is the case in many football CVAs. The rule makes it clear that in future, if a club doesn’t all pay its creditors in full, or reaches an agreement to pay them in full within three years, it will be relegated.

After the Conference agm completed its formal business, Erik, speaking on behalf of the FRWP, gave club representatives a formal presentation on the financial health of Conference clubs. The presentation included additional reporting requirements for the forthcoming season, along with greater details of sanctions that will be applied to clubs which are failing to meet their financial commitments. All of this sounds like dull stuff but it is an essential part of the Conference Board’s drive to help clubs to be financially sustainable in the long term.

Returning closer to home, this week sees a meeting with Kingston Council representatives, hopefully to agree proposals for minor building works in relation to the Tempest End burger bar following the change of caterer.

Last week, members of the Stadium Working Group (SWG) reviewed plans for a new East Stand, which would allow us to reach the required 2,000 seats under cover and a total capacity in excess over 5,000. These are contingency plans for the day we are promoted into the Football League, since the seats would need to be completed by 1 May in our third season in the league. In effect, this means that work would need to be started at the end of the second season, as we would want to minimise the time when parts of the stadium would be unavailable for use by fans. The work won’t now be taken any further until we are promoted, but we wanted the assurance that we are ready, come the day.

The SWG also reviewed plans for a control room and CCTV which would need to be implemented before our first game in the Football League, so it would have to be done between the date we knew we were promoted and the first game of the following season. This is a very short time, so the SWG has put the plans and outline budgets in place now, ready for that happy day.

Finally, we encourage fans to come down to the club to watch World Cup games, and England games in particular, on our new High Definition TV. We were unable to screen the USA game as we had bookings for that evening that were made even before we knew England had qualified, but this coming Friday evening sees the bar open for all-comers when England play Algeria in a crucial game. Most of the other World Cup games will be shown at Kingsmeadow – see the club’s web site for exact details.