CEO gives his update from October
October was a relatively run-of-the-mill month but in football there’s always things which prove challenging.
This month, following the injury to Michael Duckworth, and International call up for Conor McLaughlin, frantic work was required in signing Elohor Godswill Ekpolo (‘Godswill as he prefers to be known’). The player’s status as ‘unemployed’, or effectively a player out of contract prior to the end of the last window, allowed him to sign during the closed window.
A further complication was his VISA situation, which required a fair amount of work given the type of VISA currently providing Godswill the right to work and reside in the UK. Then there was the issue of communicating with Barcelona, over a Bank Holiday, from whom we required, as per FIFA rules, confirmation as to when his last contract ended. This wasn’t easy, but was thankfully assisted by Luis (our Spanish Legal Intern) who was testing out his Catalan skills.
Signing a Nigerian former Barcelona player does sound a little out of the ordinary however our contacts are widespread and sometimes things just land on the doorstep, with Godswill’s parents actually living and working in Preston.
Our first formal monthly Senior Technical Board meeting with Head Coach Uwe Rosler and Assistant Rob Kelly took place, and was good opportunity to start the short, medium and longer term planning, focussing on both continuity, succession planning via our depth charts, and of course the need to continue to get points on the board.
A rare weekend off due to the postponement of the Bristol Rovers fixture, saw myself, Gretar Steinsson and the Chairman visit Iceland. Once there we met with club representatives from our partner club Stjarnan and saw the national team beat Turkey at home in the World Cup qualifiers.
The serious development in coaches and quality of the young Iceland players, and progression the National side have made in recent years is pretty phenomenal and a message to everyone in football that if you get so many things right, with the right mentality and people, conventionally perceived boundaries can be surpassed.
As well as FA Council duties I have also recently been elected as the ‘alternate director’ for League 1, on the EFL Board. Effectively working on the EFL board in the event that the either of the current League 1 director (Stefan Gamble at Walsall and Jim Rodwell at Scunthorpe) are unable to attend Board Meetings. The position requires representation for League 1 on the EFL Commercial Committee which provides a forum for understanding and input to both short and longer term financial health of the EFL.
Back at Poolfoot I was delighted to be asked to present the Walking Football Finals, with eight North West clubs, including ourselves, taking in part what was a fantastically supported and organised event. Interestingly, given the growth of this form of the game, the FA are now looking at a set of overarching rules to provide some level of parity, balancing both the competitive edge and the recreational aspect of the sport.
International visitors to Poolfoot this month saw Norwegian side Sogndal’s U15 academy team enjoy a tour and pre-match meal and a guest appearance from Uwe, reminiscing about his time managing in Norway. They then went on to play Rossall Football team nearby. New CEO at FK Sarajevo, Sabrina Buljabasic, was extremely interested in a lot of methods, philosophy and detailed processes underpinning both the academy and first team. Sabrina was on the start of a long journey of remodelling the Bosnia side, who are owned by Cardiff City’s Vincent Tan, where she was also due to visit during her time in England.
Financially the cup TV revenue of £67,500 came as a welcome surprise really demonstrating how valuable the competition is to so many clubs. I write these notes hopeful that this can be boosted by winning tomorrow's replay (£18,000).
On Community aspects, I enjoyed a very fruitful meeting with the Football Foundation discussing support for further changing facilities for the community and greater space for the Community Trust. Separately the Community Trust are discussing taking ownership of the part of Poolfoot Farm earmarked for allotments where they will look to oversee the community’s use of these patches, as well as consideration for a community grow area of their own further diversifying their work in supporting healthier lifestyles in the community.
I also should mention the Carlisle United fixture in the Checkatrade Trophy. While the prize money on offer at £10,000 per win, and £20,000 in Stage 2, had we qualified, is very welcome, we feel that the rules preventing freedom of choice of player’s who compete in the fixtures is far too restrictive.
Given the end of the emergency loans, and the fact that teams are carrying larger squads with, we need to be able to play both experienced players and development prospects a like, to ensure that the principles of both providing a healthy competition, and creating a platform for younger players to experience competitive senior level football can be achieved.
I personally didn’t attend the Carlisle game (only 1 of 2 games I’ve missed while we have been in the EFL) but those who attended surely enjoyed the spectacle.
I wrap up my notes on the train to London to the England v Scotland fixture as a travelling fan and while on the move I mustn’t go without thanking the loyalty of those Cod Army fans who travelled to both Bristol Rovers and Carlisle this month.
UP THE COD ARMY