Chief Executive provides his regular monthly update to club's fans
Having attended the EFL Regional Meeting at Huddersfield Town this month we were ‘named and shamed’ as one of the clubs having been fined £5,000 for breaching the rules in relation to what constituted our strongest side. While the competition has courted controversy this season I am not sure as to how naming the clubs in question in the press and such was going to in anyway benefit its future existence. However only we and our colleagues at other clubs can define how this competition works, and indeed if at all in the future. The EFL is ultimately run for the member clubs and it is ourselves who effectively propose and democratically determine such outcomes.
In more positive news, November and December is very much about the Emirates FA Cup, and for clubs like ourselves, progression at this stage is massive for momentum and spirt as the busy Christmas period closes but equally as important from an income point of view. We have enjoyed over £200,000 (which includes projected gate receipts for the forthcoming Bristol City game) from our four games to date. Additionally, we have the potential scalp of the Championship side worth another £67,500 in prize money!
Poolfoot Farm has come in to its own this month, as we knew it would, when the weather begins to turn. Seeing grassroots boys and girls of all ages playing on great facilities while other pitches are unplayable from frost or waterlogging is really great to see, as this is exactly what we had in mind when creating the complex. As well as the community benefit our elite squads have also trained through the sharp frost which caught everyone by surprise.
On the playing side planning for January continued, and at the same time we welcomed Paul Murray who took up the post as Senior Professional Development Phase Coach, with responsibility for the ongoing development of the Under 21 players. Creating pathways for all the young pros is essential if we are to see them achieve at the highest level. Working with progressive clubs further down the pyramid is key in that process. Finding the right environments, where the player will flourish is an essential step in their progression and we have some real close relationships with many local non-league clubs who we are dealing with on a daily basis. With football being a very small world, sharing ideas, personnel, and building relationships across the game is a genuine part of the sport and enables it to improve at all levels. I feel the club has progressed and achieved so much in such a short space of time because of our openness, hospitality and willingness to learn, share and grow our networks.
Talking of progression and pathways it was a real pleasure for the club to offer our first scholarship from the full academy set up, with Owen Mason from the under 14’s being offered a deal taking him to 2020. Also current first year scholar, Billy Crellin was offered professional terms. What is most pleasing about this news was that both players had come through Fleetwood Town Juniors’ ranks so are truly ‘home grown’. I know the positive long term impact the club and facilities will have on the local grassroots game and we hope to see more Fleetwood boys and those from wider areas of the Fylde develop in to the professional game. Having achieved Category 3 status in the summer we are now planning ahead for Category 2 status really moving the Youth Operations in to a serious phase, this will require further full time personnel and also an indoor facility (a feasibility is currently underway about delivering this at Poolfoot).
On the International front we received a visit from the organisers of the Rey Cup, who invited next year’s U14’s over to Reykjavik next Summer for their prestigious tournament, which will be the first for the academy teams. European Union Erasmus Funding was achieved for the Youth Team, enabling them to enjoy a two week overseas pre-season tour also providing for lifelong learning experiences. At Poolfoot we received visitors from Guinea Bissau in West Africa looking for a partner in the UK to provide young talent a European progression route for their boys (who are able to obtain Portuguese passports), and we have a scout out there in February to look over the options. Finally on the first team front we are in the planning stages of a pre-season tour in the Far East this summer, and we hope to have full details in the first couple of months of next year.
As we approach Christmas in a great and exciting place as a Football Club I would like to wish everyone and their families a Merry Christmas, and hope to see many of you at Highbury for our two important local derbies over the busy period.