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Friday 23 May 2008
What's happening at Kingsmeadow - feature number 2

It's now five weeks until pre-season training starts and Terry Brown continues to pursue players to add to next season's squad. Meanwhile, there is a lot going on at the club and this update covers that as well. But it is players that people want to hear about most, so this update starts there.

This week we signed Alan Inns from Hampton. Alan played most of last season at centre back in a team that was minutes away from reaching the Blue Square Premier. Terry is delighted to have recruited him as, in addition to being a fine centre back, he is a natural leader on the pitch.

Last week we mentioned two players for whom we had made bids. Re the defender, who is a young player and one that Terry aims to develop, there is one final matter to resolve re the fee and then we are confident that the player will sign for us. Re the midfielder, who is a contracted player where our offer to his club was refused, we have had a further conversation with the relevant club who have made it clear that he is only for sale if we offer 'silly money' - their term not ours. While 'silly money' wasn't defined, it seems clear that it will be well above our valuation of the player and we will look elsewhere.

As regards the two strikers we mentioned last week, we understand that they are likely to accept higher offers from clubs in higher leagues. This is disappointing and Terry is turning his attention elsewhere, although we will also watch and wait, as many 'certain' deals fall through - and we know both players liked us a lot.

During this week, Terry met three players who are on his wanted list and had conversations with others from the list. We made an excellent offer to one player and he is considering it - we should hear during next week. Regarding the others, it seems that there are some other clubs which are spending very large amounts at the moment, as the players' expectations are far higher than we aim to pay - or perhaps we are just seen as a club which should pay highly. Either way, we won't pay beyond our means.

One interesting feature this close season is that some of the players we have been talking to couch their expectations in terms of 'net' money. In other words, they want guaranteed pay, after tax. It seems only to be in football where employees talk in terms of net money, but perhaps that is a legacy of the bad old days when some players were paid outside the tax system. Such days are long gone, of course.

So, we will await answers to the offers we have made while also looking at other players on our list. We have signed two, and hopefully soon a third, from the list, which is good progress. Finally, Terry will be speaking again to Robin Shroot next week.

Elsewhere, Terry is looking at recruiting some younger players with whom he can work, to develop them over a longer period of time, as part of the process of building a team, not just recruiting experienced players. As we identify the ones we really want, we will also announce them although, as younger players, they are less likely to be known to our fans.

Looking forward to next season, the sale of season tickets is going very well. Up to the closure of the office today we have sold 709 compared to 510 on the same date last year. While this seems like a fantastic increase, it must be regarded with caution because:

. Only 30 - 40 of the STs are new applicants
. It follows that many of the others are renewing earlier than last year, which is a sure sign of enthusiasm for the new league we are about to enter
. Some applications have arrived earlier than usual to take advantage of the five year ST offer at last year's prices. This offer closes in eight days' time, on 31 May

Overall, we aren't yet in a position to carry out a detailed analysis of the increase, or even the number of new and renewed FYSTs, as we are too busy processing them. It is likely, however, that the rate of sales will fall away quite steeply after 31 May, which is also the deadline for main stand ST holders to guarantee retention of their usual seats. Next week we will be reminding main stand ST holders of this deadline.

Almost every day this week the builders have been in the stadium, meeting sub-contractors and making final arrangements for starting work on the extension to the main stand. This work is due to begin on Monday 2 June and, while the scaffolding is up for the extension of the roof, we will be having repair work carried out to plug the increasing number of holes that let in the rain.

The combined DVD set covering both the play off semi-final and final has been selling well and more are due to be delivered in the middle of next week. If you've not already got yours, we advise you to order now, as they are being despatched in the same order we receive applications and payment. The order for the new kit also went out today and as soon as we are as certain as possible of the delivery date we will announce the launch date; this may, depending on the timing, coincide with a 'meet the manager' evening, but we want to be sure of the kit delivery date before finalising anything.

Finally, there is the exciting topic of meetings. Earlier this week, the Dons Trust board met to reappraise how it works and to review the DT's aims, which are now over two years old. A forthcoming meeting is our first Blue Square agm and dinner, which is being held in Blackpool on Saturday 7 June (until the agm has been held and applications voted upon, we are not officially members of the league). The agm is a chance to meet representatives from other clubs for the first time, in most cases, although there will be some old friends and adversaries there too. The following week sees the Ryman League annual dinner where we will be saying farewell to some valued old friends.

Meanwhile, do look out for day-to-day developments on this site.