The opportunities area was always one I struggled with in my businesses because I felt the strengths and weaknesses covered it. I tried to look at the club from a neutral point of view and see where we might be able to continue to expand and grow. One area I think we have done really well in recently is commercial because marketing is a hard sell in times pf a pandemic. That will continue to be the case going into the New Year and beyond, but I do think we have a commercial team who seize on the opportunity and turn it to their advantage. Take Match Day Live for instance – there have been regular advert slots on there, not too intrusive, but benefitting the club in some way. as we keep winning games and potential rising through the divisions, the income from commercial revenue will keep going up. A jump to the Championship would bring more shirt revenue, potentially better advertising revenue through TV deal and this is a huge opportunity. I saw a post on social media suggesting we didn’t want promotion because it would be too costly – utter madness. This isn’t 1980 where the costs potentially outweigh the benefits, it is 2020/21 and TV money alone would revolutionise the club.
Lots of work has gone into our academy in recent seasons and although he is out of the side at the moment, Sean Roughan is an example of that. To a degree, whilst we didn’t get a huge fee for him, Ellis Chapman is too – these are players coming out of our youth team and forging a career in the senior game. I know there will be some criticism we let Ellis go, but that happens – look at Wayne Biggins, Luke Dimech and even Steve Holmes, all former YT prospects who left and became senior players elsewhere. The key is to ensure a steady stream of players, akin to Crewe, with first-team capabilities. They may not all stay, they may not all be a success, but in turning youngsters into professionals, you are exposing that chance, that opportunity. Hayden Cann might be the next Lee Frecklington, the next local boy done good, or he might not. The fact he is around the first team shows what a good setup we do have, a pathway for young players. That’s been several years in the making and is a real opportunity the club can hopefully look to exploit.
Player trading is a big opportunity for us, if it is done right. The obvious shout is Lewis Montsma right now, but these chances come along once in a blue moon. Michael made a success of Oxford by trading players, bringing in the likes of Kemar Roofe and seeing the club sell them on for big profit. That works well at times when the market is buoyant, which it isn’t now, and when you get the right player. Oxford do it really well, Dickie, Fosu and Baptiste all proof of the model working. The key is to then be able to split the proceeds between players to boost the team and the next big-money sale. Once upon a time, being a ‘selling club’ was seen as a bad thing in the eyes of supporters, but I think the modern game dictates that it is a method of sustaining and developing. Nobody wants to see Lewis Montsma sold, but if the club got £2m for him and could pay £500,000 for a striker and top the budget up to a normal level, it would be a necessary evil.