When I started this role 10 weeks ago, I said I was passionate about the local community and communicating with our supporters.
Therefore, I thought this was a perfect time to step back from day-to-day duties and provide you, our loyal supporters, with an update as to the steps forward we have been making off the field and what plans lie ahead.
The strategy regarding communications was set up and embedded from the start - with structure placed around our regular meetings with SLOs, the inception and first quarterly meeting of our 'Fan Engagement Panel' and a firm date in the diary for our 'Supporters’ Parliament' meeting on January 17, 2024.
This will be the first Supporters Parliament meeting we have had since February and we have now set an ongoing commitment for a minimum of two per year.
To touch firstly on the Fan Engagement Panel - as discussed from the start this group will evolve as we move forward, with adverts for new supporters to join going out in the new year.
As promised, the minutes were circulated within 48 hours of the meeting with many of the actions completed before the fixture that weekend.
We listened and rapid changes were made with reminders on the contacts pages, the advertising of away travel on the website and the launch of dizzy penalties with promotional opportunities to give some half-time engagement for families but more importantly to many of you at this festive time, drinks offers in Smithy’s Bar!
There have been some challenges along the way but day-by-day we are hopefully making decisions to financially benefit the long-term future of the football club.
Every day we try to make more and more savings on costs and try initiatives such as the pop-up shop, the Black Friday sales, the Christmas car parking ideas. These are all there to drive revenue into the football club.
We are aware that a few teething problems have arisen with deliveries from our merchandise partner, Elite Pro Sports.
But as mentioned previously, this is year one of a longer-term partnership and we are working with EPS to resolve any issues that arise and we are excited together as we move forward.
To give context on this we are pleased to say that in the past three weeks, we have successfully completed more online orders than the previous 17 weeks combined and the highest online sales we have ever achieved.
As we move forward to next season and beyond, we look forward to working with a kit provider where we will now have the flexibility to design bespoke first-team kit and training wear.
At this point we can share with you now that in the coming weeks there will be the opportunity to vote on our new away kit along with other fan engagement ideas we have in the pipeline, aiming to link in with the younger generation and local community.
By working in such a way, this will mean the new kit for the 2024-25 season will be available to buy before you all go off on your summer holidays and represent us around the world!
We also had very disappointing challenges with the missing banners for our Her Game Too and our Proud Salopians supporter groups.
I am pleased to share that both of these have now been replaced thanks to the work of the groups themselves, our supporters, our players (shout out to Harry Burgoyne) and all of the staff at the club.
Not only did we manage to turn this negative story into a positive, but we also have partnered with Her Game Too to make Smithy’s an official Her Game Too pub going forward and our very own club secretary, Jayne Bebb, made her Sky Sports debut talking about the work we are doing at the club with the LGBTQ+ community and the Rainbow Laces Campaign.
We would like to thank you all for your support on these matters.
With the women’s team, we are proud to say we are working together closer than ever and as the team continues to march up the league table. We are looking forward to hopefully having our first-ever game at the Croud Meadow later in the season and we encourage you all to get behind the team and get down to support them.
With regard to our commitment to the local community, our foundation continues to go from strength to strength under the guidance of Jamie Edwards and the team, and we will continue to do all we can to keep this moving forward as fast as possible.
From a club perspective, the commitment to our local community doesn’t stop there as we look to join up with local businesses and work together.
This week saw the launch of the Business Network Club and we are excited to welcome partners new and old to work with us and come with us on the journey.
Coupled with this we have recently successfully enrolled our two new local interns, both Salop season ticket holders, who join us from their studies to help our commercial operation.
We intend to continue this strategy going forward to engage people of all levels from our local community and local education network to come into the club and learn, work, and develop with us as we move forward.
At this festive time, it would be remiss of me not to mention our fantastic hospitality team who do an unbelievable job not only at Christmas but 365 days a year.
I'm sure many of you will have experienced one of our amazing events, this part of our business continues to grow on a daily basis and I encourage any of our local families and businesses looking to book events or parties to get in touch with Max Senatore and the team to come and see what a great service we have to offer.
As we look to the new year, our cup tie versus Wrexham has attracted a lot of attention and ticket sales have gone absolutely crazy, with hospitality down to the final few places remaining.
Our thanks to the ticketing team for their continued efforts and our supporters for their support and patience at this busy time.
Furthermore, we are pleased to say that sales of half-season tickets are already 40% up on last year and these are still available for any last-minute Christmas presents!
With regards to ongoing communication from the club, I make no apologies for the weekly emails we now send out to our supporters advertising games and our latest news stories and special offers.
We intend to keep this going and evolve further and we urge as many of you as possible to sign up to our innovative new Whatsapp channel (click here) created by our excellent, forward-thinking media team.
I am sure many of you are reading this and thinking 'what about the first team?' Well, I would like to say a big well done to Matt and the team for successfully steering us through arguably the worst injury crisis we have ever experienced at the club.
To say we are in 13th position and with an FA Cup Third Round tie to look forward to, I think big congratulations must go to the team and we look to kick on in 2024 with hopefully more and more players back out on the field!
Lastly, I want to say a thank you to all of our partners, our sponsors, and to each and every one of you for coming with us on this journey.
Your support is unrivalled both home and away and on behalf of the Chairman, the Board, Micky Moore, Matt Taylor and the team, we would like to say a massive thank you and I look forward to seeing you all roaring us home against Peterborough on Saturday.
Thank you, as always, for your support and Merry Christmas to you all!