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Wednesday 21 April 2010
Dons to go full time

From time to time we publish articles that appear in the programme which contain news that hasn't been published on this site. The following article updates fans on the club's decision to go full time. It appeared as Erik Samuelson's page in the Tamworth programme.

Good evening and welcome to the fans, officials and players of Tamworth.

Tonight I want to look forward to next season and some exciting changes. We’ve had a great season, our first in a national league, and whatever the results of our last two games we will end up as the highest placed part-time club. But we want to progress, and as recent games have made clear, we need to be full time if we are to compete with the top teams. So I am delighted to say that at their recent meeting the Dons Trust board agreed the club’s plans for doing so.

This is a significant decision that fits into our longer-term ambitions. We recruited Terry as a full-time manager with this step in mind, and after careful consideration we believe that the time is right. But going full time is only part of the plan. We’ve also made the decision to invest in young players and build a team, not buy one. In plain terms, this means that despite pressures on costs we are continuing to invest in our Youth Development Programme (YDP), and next season we are moving to having professional coaches for all the youth teams.

Recently you may have seen some of our young players making their mark in the first team. But we can’t expect to get all our new players via the YDP. So for the past couple of months our talent scout, Luke Dowling, together with Terry, Stuart and Simon, has been checking out the best young players around, and we are already in negotiations to sign some of them for next season.

When Alan Hansen famously said “You can’t win anything with kids” he might have been better saying that a young team needs a few experienced players to provide the backbone. In the next week or two, we will be talking to the players Terry wants to retain and offering them new terms.

Going full time means that we need to have additional training facilities, extra coaching and physio time, and to provide food for the players after training every day. All this costs money, and since we aren’t owned by a rich man who is happy to throw money at the club, we need to fund it ourselves. So we are taking a number of steps to raise more money, including raising entry prices next season.

For season tickets, I am delighted to say that we’ve been able to extend last season’s innovation and offer payment in monthly instalments. You can collect an application form from the complimentary tickets window before or after tonight’s game. Season ticket renewal notices will be going out next week.

We are taking some other initiatives to try to give Terry as much money as possible to recruit the players he wants. We will announce these new ideas as soon as we have completed the detailed planning.

We aim to regain a place in the Football League, and by going full time we are taking a giant step in that direction. The plan is to have a young side, with more and more players coming though our own youth set-up, and playing – as Terry has often said – without fear.

Our other key ambition is to have a new stadium of our own. There is a summary of the various processes that need to be completed to achieve that objective and an assessment of where we are in each case here: A stadium fit for the Dons.

So, there are enormous challenges facing us – but we thrive on challenges, don’t we, or we wouldn’t have started this club eight years ago. These are exciting times.