Fleetwood Town’s Chief Executive Steve Curwood gives fans an update of all the latest from behind the scenes at Highbury in his latest column.
After a very long ‘transfer deadline day’ on 31stAugust, we we back in early the following morning, slightly bleary eyed for another long day, for the hosting of the England v Italy U18 friendly.
This was our first ever full youth international, only having previously hosted an English Schools FA International and an England C Team fixture.
It’s nice to enjoy a match as a neutral from time to time, and also be part of the formalities and the importance the FA place on all their representative matches.
Our final obligation for the FA was to host Israel U18 at Poolfoot, who were also in the country to take part in the three-way friendly fixture. To have a security team visit us ahead of the visit, with a detailed list of requests, and who were ‘wired up’ for the evening’s training session brought to our small part of the world some of the wider global security issues.
Finishing the International theme Dion Charles tonight became the latest player to join a growing list of Fleetwood Town players to gain International honours while playing for the club. Gretar Steinsson went over to Lurgan to see Dion’s impressive substitute debut for Northern Ireland U21s, a performance which earned him a start a few days later in Macedonia.
It was also an opportunity for Gretar to meet the parents of another promising young talent at the club. Scholar Tre Sterling, enjoyed U17 honours last season for the Green and White army and has now progressed in the U19 squad, and it was nice for him to be able to discuss our hopes for Tre and discuss his progress to date.
September saw our academy play it’s first ever set of games, which was against Blackpool. To be competitive in all age groups, having only been together for less than a month, with recruitment coming predominantly from grassroots local football was testimony to all the young players and all those heavily involved in the process. Games are played at Poolfoot every Sunday morning around at 11.00am and it would be great to see fans bob down and give their support and see the future talent on show and enjoy one the fantastic Sunday Roasts!. It was also great to hear some great feedback from the visiting Blackpool parents about the great facilities and the organisation on and off the field.
On the community side I welcomed our BTEC students on the Community Trust’s Football and education programme, and was good to see all the school’s fixtures throughout the month, using Poolfoot as a central venue.
The remaining couple of days of the week included meetings with a potential new future kit manufacturer and supplier, academy technical board meeting, and considerable attention on the income areas of the business and the planning with the department heads on delivering to budget.
Fan engagement has been a key topic of the season so far, and we enjoyed the first of no doubt many meetings with a group of supporters keen to work in many ways to progress the way the club interact with the supporters and how our supporters interact with other clubs. Much more across this area will follow in the coming months.
In the general footballing world the Daily Telegraph expose highlighted to the wider public what looks a confusing arena of so many individuals in positions of influence around the game. For me this highlights the importance of having a Technical Director in day to day control of the recruitment process, and that process clearly known to the Chief Executive and more importantly the owner.
As more and more foreign owners invest in English clubs this may see further moves to this continental approach where those running the business make the business decisions. In addition to a fully transparent recruitment process, this also allows the club to have people in football clubs building longer term foundations, focussing on continuity of staff, processes, and working to a philosophy without continuing change.
On the pitch, results didn’t go our way, which was frustrating given the start we made, but Uwe and his team will continue to take positives from the games and address the fine lines which we have been on the unfortunate side of this month. On a side note the month saw Alex Jakubiak become the 100thplayer to appear for the club in the Football League coming on as a substitute in the MK Dons defeat, a fair old milestone for the club!
Finally, Poolfoot Farm’s use continues to grow week on week, with such a broad spread of activity every day. The Poulton & District Youth League has now their U7 and U8 fixtures here every Saturday, with hundreds of the youngest players already having enjoyed the site. Our Walking Footballers are one of our keenest groups, and along with new the Girls football sessions and Youth 5 a side leagues it is really a vibrant place to be around, and is a great example of the community hubs which the FA are keen to grow.
October will now doubt see the league settle down and give everyone a good idea as to who might be where come April. Enjoy your week off this Saturday and see everyone back at Highbury on the 15thwhen we take on Peterborough.