Update from the COO Stephen Hobin.
With the 2021/22 season now behind us, I wanted to take the opportunity to update you on plans for pre-season, work behind the scenes in preparation for the new campaign, exciting plans for retail and dates for the diary regarding kit launches, season ticket sales and memberships, and also touch on recruitment activity ahead of the appointment of our new manager, which I know is of great interest to all of our supporters.
I know many supporters understandably are wanting us to announce our next manager, but I would like to start by informing everyone we are now in the latter stages of a meticulous process and we are taking the necessary time to ensure we make the correct decision that the Chairman and the Board are confident will be the right manager to take the club forward. To that end, I would like to reassure supporters that since the departure of Graeme Lee, we have been extremely busy ensuring that everything is in place for the new manager to hit the ground running upon his appointment.
The players will be reporting back to our state of the art training facility at Maiden Castle, Durham University on 20th June where Keith McGrath, our Head of Performance and Sports Science, will carry out the necessary testing on the players and the pre-season training schedule will commence.
Keith and myself have worked closely to create a plan we believe is one of the best in the club’s history that incorporates Keith's expertise in designing the necessary fitness programme the players will need, alongside a carefully planned pre-season fixture schedule I have put together, building up the intensity for the team to be ready on 30th July when the season kicks off.
Our new manager will be able to come straight in and work with Chris Trotter, our new Head of Player Recruitment, and will not need to worry about anything other than assembling his team and working with the players and his staff.
On Monday 27th June I am delighted to announce the first team squad will be flying to Portugal where we have a warm weather training camp planned in the Algarve. This is something I am extremely pleased to deliver for the players, I feel it is important that the players, management and backroom team have time together in an elite sporting environment to start the second week of pre-season training with no distractions.
It also gives the new manager time to get to know his squad and gives myself, club management and members of the backroom team presentation time to explain the expectations for everyone on and off the field next season. I would like to thank the Chairman Raj Singh and my fellow board members in backing me in this request, together with a small panel of sponsors who are helping to make this trip happen.
On Wednesday 29th June I am also pleased to announce that we will be playing a warm up game against Scottish Premiership side Hibernian FC and I am extremely grateful to my friend and former colleague Ben Kensell, CEO Hibernian FC for working closely with me to allign our schedules to make this invaluable fixture come to fruition. Ben was my former boss when he was COO at Norwich City and we spent 5 or 6 successful years together in our time at Carrow Road.
I would like to thank, TMD Friction, Emerson Marketing and Motif8 who have committed to sponsorship so far for this trip with more to follow in the coming weeks. I would also like to thank Motif8 who have gifted us a one-off Errea kit for our Hibernian fixture, which following the trip will be auctioned off for charity, and finally Hoteligent who have come on board as our Official Accommodation Partners.
The players will return to the UK on Friday 1st July to continue their programme.
Our schedule is now complete starting with a trip to Billingham Synthonia FC on 9th July. I was keen to find step 6 opposition for our first friendly fixture and when I was informed of Billingham Synthonia's financial troubles, I felt it was important that as the local professional club we helped in some way by sending a strong team. We hope both sets of supporters can turn up in their numbers to put some pennies in the coffers as it were. We will not be taking any revenue from the gate for either of our away friendlies.
9th July Billingham Synthonia 3pm (A)
12th July Marske United 7.30pm (A)
16th July Lincoln City 3pm (H)
20th July Blackburn Rovers 7.30pm (H)
23rd July Open Training Session at the Suit Direct Stadium with exclusive free access for season ticket holders and members 11am – 1pm
25th July To be revealed soon 7.30p.m (H)
Our final fixture on 25th July is confirmed and will be announced in due course at an agreed time with our visitors media team.
Following on from our recent exciting new partnership with Errea, who come on board as our new Technical Kit Partners for the next two seasons, I am pleased to confirm some important key dates for the diary.
One of the first things I wanted to address was making sure our supporters had a range of kits, training wear and associated ranges they can be proud of for next season, but also that we have enough stock and sizes available all season and most importantly on time in order to enjoy for the summer.
I can’t wait to see the reaction to our 3 new kits and look forward to seeing them popping up on socials all around the world. We may even run a competition for the most interesting places they are spotted, so be sure to share your photos once you’ve got your shirt.
Season Tickets and Memberships
As of today we are on record season ticket renewals for the first 3 weeks of sales and I am really pleased with the new processes we have put in place to simplify and speed up the transactions, removing the paper forms and making the experience quick and simple whether face to face or online.
We have made changes to the ticket operating systems adding tabs to upload documents etc and from the feedback we are receiving, it really seems to be working much smoother than ever before. I would like to thank Sarah Rowntree, our new Retail and Ticket Office Manager, who has worked hard with me to create the processes and adaptions to the systems, together with Dawn and Carol in the ticket office who are helping drive this much needed change with pride and gusto.
Our membership scheme I am pleased to confirm has been extremely well received, please remember by purchasing a membership card, not only do you receive added loyalty points for priority access to tickets and exclusive events, you also receive 10% off all purchases in the new retail store. I really feel in many cases this will pay for itself in no time when supporters see the range we have to choose from next season.
We were delighted to appoint Chris Trotter as our new Head of Recruitment. Chris has been working tirelessly in the market since his arrival and is speaking to players, agents and managers every day. Chris has great knowledge of the UK domestic market together and is also following up players that have been recommended to myself and other board members from trusted contacts in the industry.
Finally, thank you for your continued support, it’s a really exciting time to be a Poolie and we are determined to carry on improving in all areas on and off the pitch. Please remember the early bird season ticket period ends on Tuesday 31st May. I really hope we smash sales next season and make the Suit Direct Stadium one of the best atmospheres in the football league, as it was on so many occasions last year.
Have a fantastic summer and I look forward to seeing you all soon.