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Building for the Future

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Club News

Look down the ‘gates’ for non-league football and it is dispiriting - it is increasingly difficult for clubs to attract gates. In fact this is true generally in football but we tend to forget it when we see Old Trafford and the like filled week after week. The reality is that with all seater stadiums there are simply not as many bums on seats as there were on the terraces of half a century ago. The reason is easy to see – there are so many more entertainment options than there were years ago. SKY, family arrangements, the involvement of kids with football and the like all take dad away from the Saturday game and combine to ensure that gates are down. Clubs right from the very top can no longer simply rely on gate revenue to fund them. Manchester United and the like are much more dependent upon commercial sponsorship and revenue than they are on the Saturday afternoon crowd.

And so it is with us. Clubs like ours have to face reality and look forward to a different future.

The recent meeting hosted by the club’s Development Officer, Chris Freestone, had exactly this theme. It was an opportunity for all associated with the club to flag up ideas and to look to the future. The points that were made and the ideas that came forward were taken away by Chris and he later circulated a review of the main points. A very well worth while exercise. It brought people together – all with the common aim to make Arnold Town a better and more successful place.

Of course it’s a long road ahead. One meeting doesn’t solve anything but all journeys have to start with the first step. As Chris says “ We can’t do everything at once – indeed that would be the wrong course of action - but we have ideas, enthusiasm, issues we need to address, priorities and some kind of vision of the future.”

So, what were the ideas? What were people concerned about? What plans did people have? There were many thoughts and suggestions but briefly the sixty or seventy people who attended the meeting thought that we need to improve communication throughout the club – from top to bottom. Difficult to see how anyone can disagree with that – with all teams and other bodies who access and use the Eagle Valley facility effective communication would seem to be a priority. Of course, the critical question is how do we do it?

Another point related to the facilities at Eagle Valley. Everyone agreed that we are fortunate and have a facility that virtually every other club in the East Midlands would die for – but we have to ensure it is used effectively. This covers a range of issues – club house atmosphere, club functions, advertising for events and games, transport links, use of the pitches, car parking and the like – many things that cannot be solved instantly but may be addressed over a period of time.

There were, of course, football related issues – coaching, relative merits of the various teams from youngest to oldest, player progress through the ranks to senior football, coaching courses, ball boys and mascots etc.

And finally there were items related to the environment – notice boards, trophy displays, waste bins, RESPECT barriers and the like.

The meeting was realistic – and clear – that for clubs like ours it is not an option to stand still or assume that success, money and good will will continue to follow us. That won’t happen at any club. I’m sure that Sir Alex Ferguson would tell us that he has to run faster each year to stay in the same place - and so too with us. But, more important, the good thing about the meeting was the acknowledgment by all that we have so much going for us – the obvious enthusiasm and commitment, the Eagle Valley facility, the opportunities the club already provides, the club’s local reputation, the catering, the bar and the like. We have a good base which we can build upon and which can help us to create a solid and bright future. Chris is intending further meetings which he hopes will be attended by other interested and enthusiastic Eagles !