Steve Curwood gives an update to Town's supportersIt has been a busy yet exciting time at the Club over the closing months of the season. Our priority of course was to retain our League One status which we achieved and we now look forward to the future with considerable optimism. Despite us being at the wrong end of the table for much of our last campaign, we were still able to focus on many positives. New signings Jimmy Ryan, Eggert Jonsson and Amari’i Bell settled in well and there were exciting performances from our young player of the year Ash Hunter. Many eyes too were on Conor McLaughlin whose consistent performances will bode well for his representation with Northern Ireland this summer in the European Championships. Who can also forget Bobby Grant’s scorching goal against Crewe Alexandra which secured him the goal of the season accolade, and of course there was Nathan Pond who broke the Club’s all time appearance record.
Further investment came in the Under 21 group and while our longer term strategy is exactly that, we are confident that we are moving Fleetwood Town forward with the necessary solid foundations. We ultimately need to be highly competitive at this level whilst focusing on the development of our own assets. We needed a change of focus from a Club which had challenged for promotion each season for over a decade. We had to ensure that we did things much smarter with greater focus, strategy and a longer term view on succession planning. Such development began more than a year ago and yet we are confident as a Club that we shall prosper with success being achieved in a number of ways. We are at the early stages of creating a true philosophy at Fleetwood Town which we hope will be apparent into our longer term future.
Our new training ground at Poolfoot Farm has made a huge impact both locally and in the wider football world. The facilities are truly outstanding and provide a magnificent environment for our players and management alike to work in. It is a wonderful state of the art complex which is essential for us to develop our own talent. It was a marvellous coup for the Club as well that Sir Alex Ferguson, CBE, agreed to open the facility and he was genuinely astounded by the development. It has already gained a great reputation in a very short space of time with the local community and those further afield enjoying what the complex has to offer. Included within is the superb Crossbar and Grill restaurant which offers quality food and drink on a daily basis.
There will follow further investment into our full academy which it is hoped, subject to up and coming meetings, will commence at the start of the new season. Such significant investment will bring elite level development for players aged eight upwards for the first time in the Club’s history. This in turn will allow for an even longer development focus with local players.
The nurturing of new and longer term relationships is crucial to our success and a huge amount of work has gone into spending time with agents, senior clubs and organisations. This has helped to promote the Club, our training complex and the entire focus of the club. Relationships are a key part in the game. It is essential that we continue to build our key networks and talk to those who have influence, experience, knowledge and, above all, new ideas from within the game. In addition, we have made some interesting and beneficial partnerships and developments in Europe, China, Uzbekistan and India, to name but a few. These will certainly take time to nurture and as such are seen as longer term relationships. We already have coaches in China with others set to visit Uzbekistan and Iceland this summer. Last season, we entertained groups and visitors from countries such as New Zealand, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Colombia, Germany and the USA and we took great pride in welcoming them.
We announced our season ticket prices for the 2016/17 campaign on Thursday, and there is a price freeze for most categories at the early season price, with reductions in younger age groups. We have also introduced new Under 18 and student rates, whilst too introducing the non member price on matchdays in an attempt to increase the number of ‘walk ups . The chairman has also kindly agreed to continue to subsidise coach travel to all away days as well for our pre season excursion to Netherlands in July.
We have been asked by fans why the Club has delayed issuing a list of the players who are leaving or staying with the Club. Unfortunately, there are still a number of matters to be concluded relating to this issue with decisions and discussions ongoing. For example, Jamille Matt’s campaign with Plymouth Argyle still hasn’t come to an end yet, and we wish him well in Monday’s Play-Off final against Wimbledon. We shall of course continue to issue information via our normal media platforms regarding new player signings and departures when it is right and proper to do so. We are though happy with the squad who remain under contract. In previous years, however, we have had players who’s salaries have had to be carried for a while due to our progression. The recruitment processes have been overhauled and they continue to take shape with significant focus across the UK and Europe. Our backroom staffing infrastructure continues to develop too with slicker more detailed planning processes and practises.
Our Community Trust continues to grow and you may well have seen some of the terrific and varied work which they continue to deliver. Much of their output is at Poolfoot Farm where they also enjoy their shiny new office facilities. In addition to the Trust, a number of jobs have been created and opportunities have arisen for apprentices and interns.
Work continues at our training complex on a second full size all weather pitch as well as several small sided pitches. Renovation work is also underway at both Highbury and Poolfoot Farm and further time is being spent on improving the drainage at our stadium. Such work and a late request from Premier League side Liverpool to host one of their first team friendlies unfortunately disrupted plans for our annual ‘party on the pitch’. We are though still planning a fans event at Poolfoot Farm to coincide with the first team squad returning ahead of their pre season schedule. It will also be the opportunity for the supporters’ to award Jimmy Ryan, Ash Hunter and Bobby Grant their well earned 2015/16 awards. In addition to this event in July, we shall also host our usual meet the manager, chairman, and players event before the campaign begins.
It continues to be an extremely exciting time for all who are connected to the Club. We thank you for your continued invaluable and loyal support and we look forward to welcoming you back for the 2016/17 season.