These programme notes were written by Finance Director Simon Gibb, for Saturday's edition of This Is Our Town.
We welcome Chesterfield and their fans. This will be the third home game on the trot that we have entertained one of the teams that came down last season and Chesterfield come to us having had a disappointing start to the season culminating in Gary Caldwell, their manager, leaving after the defeat to Accrington Stanley last Saturday.
We, of course, played Chesterfield during our run to the last four of the Checkatrade Trophy last year and recorded a fine 4-0 victory. It is never easy playing teams that have come down, or for that matter one who have just released their manager, but let's hope we can repeat last season's efforts today.
We come to today's game following two excellent wins over Port Vale and then a fabulous result to turn around a one-goal deficit to beat Wycombe in injury-time last week. Both the comeback at Mansfield and the very late win last week demonstrate the focus, fitness and commitment of the lads – it also demonstrates the impact of the fantastic away support we get every week from yourselves!
There have been a lot of changes this year to the squad and it takes time for the players to build understanding with their new team-mates and adapt to their roles within the management ethos, but we as a board are very pleased with progress so far.
Indeed, all of the new players have made significant contributions through goals, penalty saves, man of the match performances, etc, which is great to see. Alan McCormack has even managed to pick up the Sky Bet League Two Goal of the Month for August for his superb volley in the opening day win at Yeovil!
It is really important that at this early stage we stay in touch with the top few teams and the fantastic win last week means we remain in good shape in fourth spot. I look forward to hearing you all getting behind the lads today as we seek the next three points to push us towards the top of the table!
On a sad note, we have recently been informed of the passing of two major contributors to our Club in the past. Firstly, Mike Watson-Challis, a former owner of the Club, and secondly our former kit man George Rogers. There will be a period of applause today where you can express your gratitude as a supporter.
Although we would have liked to keep the likes of Cameron McGeehan and Isaac Vassell in our squad, the levels of the financial offers received, their desires to move to a higher league level and their positions regarding contracts meant we had little option but to accept their departures if the price was right.
We did negotiate good financial deals for the club both upfront and on-going benefits if they do well. We have also, as a result, had to strengthen as well to replace them, but as a club we now believe we have a stronger all round squad than last year.
As well as strengthening the squad we are looking to use some of the monies to continue to develop our academy operation as we continue to push towards our goal of being an EPPP2 academy in due course. This can only further enhance our already successful youth set-up.
We also plan to use some monies to begin to improve our public catering, hospitality and retail shop offerings, and make the offerings work better for you, our fans, over the next few years. I hope you will agree this is long overdue.
It is particularly pleasing that we have been successful in attracting good players with experience of higher divisions, as well as top players from clubs in our division.
The success in obtaining these players owes a lot to the manager and his team, theirs and the club's vision and ambition, and also is supported by evidence to these players and their agents of our wanting to support the progress with the right quality of infrastructure. Recent development, future plans for our academy, training facilities, investment in sports/player analysis and, of course, the new stadium project are all examples where we have been investing time and money for the longer term.
There is not too much at this stage to update on the new stadium development other than to say that we are pleased with progress to date and are busy responding to the various requirements thrown up by the planning process. It is taking slightly longer to get planning than we had hoped, but this is not unusual for a project of this size, impact and complexity – and we remain confident that approval for our outline plans will be forthcoming in the near future. I am also pleased to report that the huge pile of fly tipping waste on Power Court that Stephen Browne mentioned in the boardroom notes last time has been removed, albeit frustratingly at considerable cost in money and time.
After today many of you will be contemplating the long trip to Morecambe on Tuesday night and I would personally like to thank you on behalf of us all for your support on these long and expensive trips. I know the boys on the pitch really appreciate the vocal support. I look forward to seeing and talking to some of you around the ground today.
Enjoy the game.