THE work on our 2021 development plan continued at the last board meeting, this time focussing on Finance and Fundraising.

2020 was a very challenging year but remarkably we have ended the year in a stronger financial position than we began. Not only that but we have paid all our staff 100 per cent of their salaries throughout the whole of the pandemic, have managed to significantly reduce debt and have a cushion of funds in the bank.

2021 promises to be much tougher.

During the meeting we recognised that the conversation with future sponsors has been mixed given the fact that we clearly have not delivered what we promised in 2020.

We needed to get the shirts on sale for Christmas so we have been concentrating our conversations with the bigger clients and we are pleased to say that we have come to mutually acceptable agreements with all those big hitters. They aren’t just sponsoring; they are genuine supporters who love the club. Thankfully those shirts can now be ordered from our online club shop.

We have also issued refunds to every fan who requested them for season tickets. Again, these people have a genuine love of the club and the vast majority of fans have made a donation to the club.

We recognise that there are still some conversations to have with individuals who sit in the middle tier of sponsorship having sponsored things like players. Each sponsor will have different circumstances, but we again hope to come to some mutually agreeable point that both parties are happy with.

Looking back to this year clearly the Job Retention Scheme has allowed the club to survive but the opening of our beer garden demonstrated the innovative thinking of the current board.

The outdoor safe environment was a perfect venue when ventilation is key during the COVID pandemic and the public had a venue that was both safe and enjoyable. Clearly, we have been given food for thought about how best we can use our facilities in the future and clearly repeating the beer garden, pop concert and soul festival are just examples of what we could achieve once more.

We have talked in the past about the purchase of a big screen and we really do think that our financial future could take off if we were to screen the European Championships next summer, streaming our away games, even outdoor cinemas and advertising hire.

The prices have dropped significantly recently so we are in the market to buy. The board can be classed as very entrepreneurial and are not content to be a run of the mill club with run of the mill income streams.

We want to be a club that gets the others talking.

We also talked about our main aim of increasing crowds and making the day at the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium somewhere you go for a full day’s entertainment.

We recognised that we must be so much stronger capitalising on our secondary sales of catering, drinks and merchandise if the plan is that we get community groups into the ground.

We are going to repeat our distribution of 12,000 season tickets into the hands of every school child and we won’t rest until we have the ground rocking with ever increasing crowds.