Today’s announcement of the arrival of Liam Scully may slide under the radar for some people. He isn’t a big centre forward, a mobile full back or a ball playing midfielder. He arrives as part of the unseen engine of the club, a suit and tie milling around in the background.
That doesn’t mean we should underestimate his arrival, nor that of other behind-the-scenes arrivals recently. Long before our relegation from the Football League I remarked to my Dad we needed an overhaul, from top to bottom. Over the last couple of years, that is what we’ve had.
Liam Scully isn’t a name you will have heard before, he’s been COO of Doncaster Rovers, and before that he was CEO of the Doncaster Rovers Foundation. What he brings to the club is a wealth of proper experience of running a Football League club, and a good one at that. Doncaster might not always be ‘up there’, but they should be the sort of club we aspire to, one that spends a majority of it’s time in tiers two and three.
There’s no criticism of our board of directors here, but there isn’t a lot of Football League experience amongst them. They’ve invested and steered the club through to the Football League, but this is a different competition to the one we exited in 2011. Football moves fast and whilst we’ve been languishing in the basement division technology has moved on, the balance of power continues to shift and the Football League has adopted a three-letter acronym making it sound like an American competition.
By bringing in a CEO we decrease the pressure on some of our existing staff, which can only be a good thing. I’m led to believe that the work load of some senior staff members couldn’t be adequately completed in a 90 hour week, so it makes sense to get an extra body in. It also makes sense for that body to bring something with him other than willingness and commitment, and it seems Liam Scully can do that. He can bring experience of doing the same role at another club, and that could be vital.
One thing I must stress though is the need to retain the ‘one club’ mentality from last season. I felt once Rob Bradley left the club and we had fully come through administration, the club culture changed for the worst. I’m not going to dissect it here, but I feel it is vital that the closeness we felt last year continues. The club did superbly managing certain issues last year, whether it was the reduced FA Cup prices or the media presence. When they did go awry they learned from mistakes, changing the ‘ten per ST’ allocation from one cup game to a more reasonable four. They listened and responded when they could, and whilst a football club is always bound by certain rules and regulations, I think Lincoln City did a grand job of keeping people onside.
New faces can bring change, and whilst change is always a good thing it must be the right change. I’m sure Liam Scully knows exactly what the core values of our club are, I would imagine the same due diligence was done on him as it was on Danny, Nicky and any of the players we’ve brought in. He’ll be the right fit for the club, of that I’m sure. I just hope that fit includes retaining much of the positivity from last season. We must not get ‘too big for our boots’ which is what I felt we did around 2008-2010.
Another appointment from the Football League that slipped under the radar was Stewart England, former Head of Performance Analysis at Rotherham United, now doing the same role at Lincoln City. Yet another person coming from a Football League club to complement what we already have. When we dropped out of the league in 2011, how many performance analysts do you think there were in the division? Would you ever imagine it would be a department within our club by the time we bounced back?
Let me float an idea out there. I would wager that both of these appointments have been influenced by Danny, certainly the Stewart England one. Liam Scully might have been a board decision, but I bet Danny was consulted. I get the nagging feeling that Danny (and Nicky) is a little bit more than a football manager. They’ve been the catalyst for our mobilisation and our journey, and I’ve heard the quote that when they ask for something the board say ‘yes’, because they never ask for anything unobtainable or unrealistic. I feel we’re building our club around them, and for that reason I don’t think we have any worry when other jobs come up.
Another small change at the club recently is the arrival of Jordan Brown as Media Assistant. Firstly, it’s about time someone came in to assist JV, I’m not sure he ever goes home, and with Jordan being a recent graduate he will be bang up to date on all the latest aspects of social media. From a personal level I have a lot of time for Jordan too, he’s helped with DF in the past and worked really hard during the summer at the club too.
We might have a good first eleven, we might have a great overall playing squad, but the success of a football club is very much about the whole set-up, from top to bottom. The vital ingredient is a good team, Goal 2010 goes to show what is achieved by building a framework around a poor side, but now we have the successful and capable manager and squad it is time to push on as a football club.
I once interviewed for a role at the club and something Kevin Cooke said really stood out to me. He spoke of the club and the first eleven as separate entities within the whole ‘Lincoln City’ banner. The success of the club is often measured by the first team, but the club has to be so much more to so many more. At the time he pointed to the youth teams, our downs syndrome team, the clubs involvement in the community. All of that is vital as we build our club back up, a build that has really happened from scratch. These moves to strengthen off the field are every bit as vital to the scarf coming out, and we shouldn’t forget that.