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Friday 30 May 2008
What's happening at Kingsmeadow - feature number 3

Another week has gone by; one more week nearer Blus Square South football.

During the week we signed Ben Judge, Michael Peacock and Tom Davis, the last two of these for small fees. Stories about these players appear elsewhere on this site. Following these signings, Terry Brown has nearly finished building the younger squad he has been talking about and he now needs a forward, possibly two, to complete the picture. Terry has been in discussions with one young target and he expects to meet him again at the end of next week, possibly to agree a deal. Whether or not he needs another striker partially depends on Robin Shroot’s response to the club’s offer.

Some targets have escaped the net this summer, despite the club making them very good offers. As a further comment on the ‘net pay’ issue that we talked about last week, it has been interesting to hear players say that, being part time footballers with other ‘day’ jobs, they find that our offer would take them into the higher tax bracket. Obviously, we can’t do anything to reduce their tax bill (except perhaps to offer to reduce what we pay them) so they have looked to other clubs who can, one has to assume, offer high enough gross pay to absorb the additional tax.

Season ticket sales continue to race ahead. One feature of the renewals is that, for the first time, almost all the seats in blocks D – H inclusive have been renewed, and this despite those seats now being at a premium price. One consequence of this high level of renewals is that there will be very few vacancies for fans who want to move to a more central seat.

When the office closed today, we had sold 1,030 STs, which is about 300 ahead of where we were last season or, to put it another way, three weeks ahead of the date we crossed the 1,000 threshold last season. Nonetheless, main stand ST holders who haven’t reserved their usual seats were being reminded, by email or phone, of this Saturday’s deadline, and we expect a further pile of applications when the office opens on Monday morning. This deadline also applies to the reduced price five year ST offer. Any applications that are put through the letter box over the weekend will be regarded as having arrived on Saturday.

Looking at the ST sales pattern, and with new sales still well below 100, the majority of the increase does seem to be a reflection of the attractiveness of the five year ST offer and general excitement about the coming season.

Talking of the coming season, the Conference agm and grand gala dinner takes place next weekend in Blackpool. We submitted our application to join the league in good time, by registered post, and we’ve checked it actually arrived, since we don’t want to start off in the league with any uncomfortable administrative errors. At the agm, which will be held on the Saturday morning, there will be a vote to admit us to the league. At present, we appear to be in limbo and not a member of any league, having been told to stand down from the Ryman League agm, in line with all clubs who are leaving that league by promotion, relegation, or a sideways move.

The Conference membership pack included some information about fixtures. The first league game of the season will be on Saturday 9 August. The league hopes to release the fixtures on 4 July, with a hint that the date might be earlier if the leagues higher up the pyramid manage to get their fixtures out early. It seems that there may be some fat built into the timetable in the more senior leagues.

The first Setanta Shield game is due to be played in the week beginning 8 September and the draw will be made at the agm next Saturday. This year the first round will involve all Blue Square north and south clubs, presumably on a regional basis. Six premier clubs will come into the second round and the rest in the third round, which is earlier than last season.

Back at the stadium, building work or, rather, demolition work, starts on Monday. The provisional seating plan for the two new blocks shows 215 new seats and four spaces for disabled fans, plus four seats for their helpers. There are some practical problems around the disabled area proposals, but we still hope to be able to implement the proposals. If we do, the result will be an increase in our covered seating capacity for disabled fans.

Away from the building works, the pitch is already looking very good, with grass growing strongly on the most heavily worn areas, such as the goalmouths and the linesmen’s runs. There is still seven weeks until the first home pre-season friendly, so the pitch has plenty of time to get into excellent shape.

On the merchandise side, the play off semi final and final DVDs are still selling very quickly, with yet more on order. Also, the new mini-Haydons are now available and selling at a tremendous rate.

Finally, plans are being finalised for the first of the two weekend clean-ups, which will take place next weekend. Volunteers are still being accepted – all you need to do is call the office or email here.

So things are coming into place - and there are now only four weeks until the first pre-season training session. With things quietening down as that date approaches, there may be less to talk about next week; if so, this feature won’t appear, or will be in a much-reduced format.