After the success of last season, my focus for this season is to consolidate our position in League Two, and work to improve the squad so that eventually we can move into the Championship, and eventually the Premier League. However, we’re still some way away from that, so in this post I’ll talk about how I aim to look after the finances, who we’ve brought in for the new season, and how we’ve gone about our pre-season prep. If you missed my season 1 roundup, you can find that here.
Dollar, Dollar Bills
Preparing for life in League One is a daunting prospect. We racked up a fair amount of cash for promotion, including payments for participating in League Two last year, and a decent chunk of TV cash for League One! We also managed to grow our average attendance from 3500 last season to over 5000 by the end of the first season. Hopefully, this brings a nice little cash injection for our wage budget and future transfers and club development!
As you’ll see, we managed to stay out of any major financial trouble last season, and we’re starting from a stronger position this year as well, so I’m hopeful that we can push on from here. You’ll recall from post 2 that I base our season’s wage budget on ticket sales, and based on last year’s numbers, we’ve got a bit of extra wiggle room this season:
Amazingly, this budget is £3k per week more than our board-given budget, which is encouraging for me as it means our board are realistic about what we can spend, and it also means that I can manage it easier, knowing that what is in game is accurate to what I can actually afford to spend.
As well as the 23 home games across the season, I spotted an opportunity to get more money in the door in pre-season, by arranging an absolutely insane run of fixtures, which will no doubt see us lose repeatedly…but if we can fill up the stadium, then the financial benefit will outweigh any potential poor feeling from bad performances.
I’m aiming that across these games we can average an attendance of 3-5k, which at £24 a ticket should hopefully net us anywhere between £72,000 and £120,000 a game. In reality I don’t think we’ll make that much money, but it’s definitely going to provide a boost to our finances.
With the finances looking decent ahead of the new season, I also had to think about the squad – we were only given a transfer budget of £27,000 which massively limited the kinds of deals I was able to look for. Despite this, we did bring in some players who I’m hopeful can work with us this year to bring some solid results:-
Former Manchester City youth player Simmonds joins up on a free transfer, to give us some extra quality depth in attack. With reasonable physical attributes, and what would seem to be an eye for goal, I believe Simmonds is a player with a massive up-side who could well develop into a solid striker.
One of our loan singings last season, Chay made his switch permanent, having been named our Player of the Season last season with 21 assists and 5 goals in 38 league starts! He’s able to play on both wings and that versatility will be a massive bonus for us. I’d like for his physical attributes to improve a bit, but I’m certainly optimistic about his future.
A natural attacking midfielder, I’ve brought Gribbin in to play as a striker, rotating with Jordan Bowery and backed by Malachi Linton and Keyendrah Simmonds. It sounds like a lot of strikers but we were caught out a few times last season by not having the players available to come off the bench and change the game. As well as that, Gribbin could probably do a serviceable job as a Segundo Volante in a pinch, and brings a wealth of experience at the cost of exactly £0 – United are still paying his wages!
A solid-looking defender, Fitzwater has spent the last two seasons on loan in League One with Walsall, and I’m glad we’ve managed to pick him up; strong and good in the tackle, he brings a bit of grit to our backline this season, and I’m hoping that he can be the difference-maker.
As you can probably tell, my priority this summer was to secure our defence and give us a solid base to build from. Sam Hughes is going to be a big part of that alongside Fitzwater, and the two will complement our existing defenders to give us options and ability in the defence. It’s my opinion that defence is going to be the most important part of our squad this season, so I’m hoping that I’ve got these moves right!
Pre-Season and Season 2 Expectations
Our pre-season fixtures were designed purely to give us a few tests, and get fans through the gates and some extra money in the coffers. We didn’t quite sell-out for any of the games, but over 9,000 fans piled in to see us lose bravely against a pretty strong Manchester United (ft. Paul Pogba). Final numbers for the gate receipts came in around £500,000 which is very, very respectable!
Overall, I feel like we played very well, especially in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, and also in beating Brugge and Antwerp. There were too many solid performances to list here, but I made a definite effort to play some of our youngsters where possible, and for the most part they performed well!
Unsurprisingly, the bookies do not rate our chances of survival this season, pricing us at 1000/1 for the title, and predicting our finish to be 24th, which is probably fair enough if I’m honest.
As I alluded to in my previous post its going to take a bit of getting used to not being favourite for every game, and even having to adjust to losing matches occasionally! My first goal is to finish ahead of the other promoted teams this season, which would by default make us safe from relegation.
Obviously there’s a real risk that we go down this season, but I’m hopeful that if we can get to between 50-60 points, we should be safe from the threat of the drop, and be able to build from there in the subsequent seasons…only time will tell though, and I’m excited to get cracking on the new season.