Leaders in Football

The Chairman of the Football League, Lord Mawhinney, made an address to a meeting of ‘Leaders in Football’ at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge the other week. During his speech, he touched upon the subject of debt, which very many football clubs experience. To quote Lord Mawhinney, he said that

“..debt is an integral part of running and growing a business. Debt is not the problem in football,-  unsustainable debt is”

When I look at other clubs in the Blue Square Premier, I’m conscious of the number that are now run by supporter’s trusts. I’m well aware of the onus placed upon my counter-parts at these clubs, and the strenuous efforts employed by them to raise money in order to allow their clubs to survive.

I then reflect upon the circumstances we find ourselves in here at Stevenage.

Think about it.

We have a decent stadium. We’ve been to Wembley, and won – twice in just three years. We currently have a Trophy winning team who are riding high in our league. We have a long-standing chairman who has endeavoured to implement a number of income streams to ensure our club’s viability, and ultimate success.

We have much to be grateful for.

Referring back to Lord Mawhinney’s speech last week,

“The sustainability of debt is becoming increasingly dependent on the infusion of non football related sources”.   

Although he was talking about the League clubs, what he was actually saying is equally true of non-league clubs such as ourselves too. However, he goes on

“That is not a sustainable model, and everybody (in this room) knows it”

I don’t need to tell you that we are in the heart of a pretty deep recession. The club is meeting the challenge by offering various promotions to entice more people to come watch football at the Lamex.

The club can only do so much though.

The Supporter’s Association is doing its bit by various fund-raising initiatives and whatnot.

Ultimately though, it’s all about making those turn-styles click. We need more people to come watch Stevenage – regularly.

Stevenage Borough Football Club is a Football League Club in waiting. It has the infrastructure, the stadium facilities, that back-room management, and (in my opinion) it has the team. With over a million people living within a 20 minute car drive from here, we even have the catchment. All it needs now to complete the loop is the fan-base.

YOU can play your part in this. Encourage your friends. Tell your work-mates. Come to the Lamex, – and join the Club. Your Club.

Stadium naming rights

I’ve been reading, with considerable interest, the debate involving the changing of a stadium’s name to accommodate a club sponsor.

Dan Bell, a journalist with the BBC attempted to clarify the situation recently, by citing examples where a club has actually moved away from its historical home. Take Arsenal who now reside at the Emirates Stadium, or Hull City, whose home is now the KC (Kingston Communications) Stadium.

“The Reebok” at Bolton is another good example.

Dan makes the point that it’s all a question of branding, and that because these clubs have moved away from their ancestral roots to new locations, then the average fan is, in general, prepared to accept the moniker that goes with it.

Here at Stevenage, we have the Lamex Stadium, which came into being just last season. In my opinion, the “Lamex” is easy-on-the-ear. It flows. It has panache.

Now, consider fellow supporters of, say, York City, who ply their trade at the Kit Kat Crescent.

Or even Newcastle United fans, who now have to journey to the: “sportsdirect.com@St James’ Park Stadium”.

Now, for a famous old traditional club like that, which has played at the same ground since 1892, then there’s no wonder that the Toon Army are hopping mad.

However, as the Sun’s Ian McGarry has gone on record as saying,

Whatever the sign on the wall says, it’s the fans that choose what they call their own stadium”.

Lloyd Briscoe
Chairman of Stevenage Borough Supporters Association

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