Wednesday 25 May 2011
What's happening at Kingsmeadow - number 2
It's rather difficult getting back to everyday things after a weekend like the one that we've just had, but there is now immense time pressure on the club as it starts its transition to a Football League club. While what follows isn't wildly exciting, if we don't do it on time we'll forfeit our League place, and that would be exciting, in a very unpleasant way.
For quite some time we have been planning for the ground improvements that we need to carry out once promoted and which must be completed before we play our first game.
Why didn't we do the work sooner? Well, the reason is that there is a substantial grant available towards the cost, but it is available only once the work has become essential, which it now is, i.e. we've been promoted and the Football League require it.
To complicate matters further, in principle we can't start the work until the grant application is approved. However, the Football Foundation recognises that the work couldn't be completed in time if we had to wait to hear about our grant application, so they will normally issue a "without prejudice" letter which says that if we start they won't disqualify us from the grant - but of course they aren't promising us we'll get it, either.
So, even though we've been preparing for this for the best part of two years, everything is suddenly a rush. The grant application was prepared on Sunday (that's how to celebrate promotion in style!) before being submitted late on Monday evening. The work mainly comprises the provision of:
* a control room, which will be erected above the yellow gates which exit directly onto Jack Goodchild Way
* CCTV to cover the whole ground and feed pictures into the control room
* turnstile monitoring equipment to record how many people are in each part of the stadium
* improvements to the PA to allow us to broadcast separately to different areas of the ground
* new showers in the officials' and away changing rooms
* new dugouts, to accommodate more people than we can currently fit in
* new entrance gates from the access road behind the John Smith's Stand into the car park behind the houses in Kingston Road
* A new barrier in the John Smith's Stand to create a walkway at the front, similar to the one in the Kingston Road End.
Work can begin as soon as we have the without prejudice letter, and we are aiming to complete the control room in time to test it at a pre-season friendly towards the end of July, in good time for the start of the season. As the work progresses we will post photographs on the official website and via our Twitter feed.
Down at the training ground we are also making some improvements, most notably to install protection for the flooring in a gym, which has been converted from a squash court. Terry Brown is keen that players continue to train and stay in good shape over the summer break, and providing a gym will be a significant help to them.
Meanwhile, the office staff are catching up on the season ticket applications that were put in the pending tray while the pressures of the play-off final were being dealt with. We aren't yet in a position to announce the number of applications we've received, but we are aiming to do so soon. If you paid for your season ticket by cheque and it hadn't been cashed last Friday, expect it to reach the bank this week.
Very soon we will announce prices for next season and an extension of the period in which season tickets can be bought at last year's prices. Watch this website for an announcement.
Terry has been carrying out the job he dislikes most, telling some players that he is releasing them, while issuing option letters to many of the others. We are now required to use Football League contracts, which are rather longer and more complicated than the ones we've been using to date. However, we can't issue them until the club becomes a member of the Football League, and that doesn't happen until the League's AGM, held in Cyprus in mid June (the invitation letter arrived, very efficiently, on Tuesday morning). In other words, the club has secured the services of the players who are on options, but finalising the new-style contracts must wait a few weeks.
We understand that as part of the transition to Football League status the office team will be invited to visit the Football League offices for a day, to be trained in their procedures.
Over the coming weekend the club's IT systems will be undergoing a major overhaul, which means that we won't be able to access our emails and various other systems. It is a weekend which incorporates a public holiday, so we hope the disruption will be minimal, but we can't be sure until the work is complete and everything is back up and running again.
Finally, preparations continue for the End of Season Dinner which takes place this Saturday, quite appropriately the ninth anniversary of the disgraceful decision that led to our formation. It has been sold out for a long time, but there are still some tickets available for the "after party", which will be held in the main bar, with speeches piped through from the back bar, where the dinner is being held this season. For more details, click on after party tickets.
We will be back with more news in the coming weeks. And it is only just over three weeks until the fixtures are out!