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From the Boardroom | Birmingham City

4 August 2022

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Club Chairman David Wilkinson penned the boardroom notes for the first edition of 'Our Town' against Birmingham City.

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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Kenilworth Road for another Championship season.

Today’s opposition are Birmingham City, who were our “bete noire” last year having beaten us comprehensively home and away (aggregate score 8-0). It goes without saying that we are hoping for better things today. With the exception of games against us, the Blues struggled last year and ended in 20th place. Lee Bowyer was replaced by John Eustace and we look forward to greeting him and his team.

It seems like no time since we were beaten at Huddersfield in the playoff semi-final. We all found it a really unsatisfactory way to end the season.

The pitch invasion at the John Smith’s Stadium meant that we felt as though we were robbed of the opportunity to publicly congratulate our players and coaches for a brilliant season amid the unacceptable and sometimes violent behaviour. It wasn’t the only example as we saw equally reprehensible pitch invasions at Fulham and Nottingham Forest, as well as a worrying trend of increased trouble throughout football.

There are encouraging moves to introduce safe standing and even drinking in view of the pitch, but these initiatives are damaged by this conduct and result in increases in the costs of policing and stewarding to the detriment of clubs’ finances.

In our last home game we were an outstanding example of how to behave. We thank you for that and for making us proud.

There were examples last season of another growing trend in the use of flares, which are highly dangerous not only in wooden stadia like the Kenny, but also to those with respiratory problems. I understand that, quite rightly, the authorities are going to clamp down on this kind of misbehaviour and would expect to see stadium bans as a minimum punishment.  

This leads me naturally to stress how important you, the fans, are to the future of football. Football is changing. It is becoming more political and there are various factions manoeuvering as to where to take it. The pyramid must be protected and supported, and the imbalance of funding must be corrected, and it seems as though this is happening, but at what cost?

You, whether it be through the turnstiles or on the screen, contribute to, in one way or another, the enormous sums, which find their way into the system so it is only right you have a say as to how that money is spent. Supporters need to be ready to defend the game they want and that time may not be far away.

On to club matters – we recently had a stadium summit at which the board were presented to by Gary, Mike, consultants and advisors. For those of us not involved on a daily basis it was a fascinating and illuminating meeting and gave us a much better idea of the complexity and detail required at this late stage in the design and planning process. We were all genuinely excited by what we saw. Delays have been largely outside of our control and there’s no doubt in my mind that it will be worth the wait.

It goes without saying that despite the huge impact we are seeing from inflationary increases in costs of labour and materials and industry nervousness, we continue to plough on with Power Court.

Apart from these challenges we have to reach agreements with Key statutory bodies, which has not been a straightforward task, but we feel significant progress has been made.  I’m sure Gary will give you a full update in the very near future.

Preseason is always an interesting time particularly in regard to arrivals and departures and this one has been no exception. We say goodbye to Kal Naismith, Danny Hylton, Peter Kioso and Robert Snodgrass from last year’s frontline squad along with emergency loanee Matt Ingram and Elliott Lee, who had been out on loan last season.

We welcome keepers Ethan Horvath and Matt Macey, midfielders Alfie Doughty, Luke Freeman and Louie Watson, and forwards Cauley Woodrow and Carlton Morris.

Several of us were fortunate to be able to attend pre-season training in Slovenia and meet and see the new boys in action. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say how excited we are that they have agreed to join us and how much we are looking forward to seeing them play. We welcome them all and hope they have a happy and successful time with us.

As a board we have been a little ambitious to follow on from last year. It’s an exciting time to be a Luton fan in a wonderfully competitive competition. So, fingers crossed for another good season.

I’m so sorry to hear that this will be Mat Westwood’s last visit to the Kenny. I hope that he, Alfie and family have a wonderful day making precious memories, and that they enjoyed their trip to the training ground to meet Nathan and the players yesterday.

Finally, we congratulate the England Lionesses for reaching the Euro 2022 Final and wish them luck at Wembley on Sunday.

“The beginning is always today”  Mary Shelley.

COME ON YOU HATTERS          

David

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