Friday 24 February 2017

Chester FC: A reality check

I am on the Exiles committee but the views expressed here are mine alone.

It appears that the recent run of results has resulted in some negativity being directed at those in charge, both volunteers and salaried.

I have been a supporter for many years and experienced the best and the worst. I would suggest during these more difficult runs we all think about what we can do to support those who are charged to make Chester FC successful. Success is the key word and together with realism. A theme I will return to later.

If things do not go as we would all like then I feel it as much as anybody. Ask my wife about my reaction when we lose? Fans care and it hurts when the results do not go the right way. I am sure it hurts the management as much. We live in a blame culture and it no doubt it helps some fans to look for people to blame. The manager and his team are and always will be responsible. They know when it goes wrong and I am sure they are not planning to fail.

Whilst we are currently in a difficult run don't forget the excellent work and successes at youth levels and with the women's team. Off the pitch we have been going through a long period of learning. Part of that learning process is to make mistakes and learn from them.

Any business needs to have clear goals and a structure. At the heart of our objectives are that we are a community owned club. We have a small group of salaried employees whose job is to ensure the vision is delivered.

The board's job is to hold those employees to account and to provide support and expertise in their particular areas of responsibility. Not an easy job however you look at it. So when the financials are behind budget then it is right to ask questions but it should be asked, how useful are personalised attacks?

The current structure with clearly defined Chief Exec and Chairman roles is new and they need to be given time to deliver. I don't know, but I expect there has been a lot of firefighting going on. Next season is where we should begin to see the fruits of their work. Again I don't know, but I expect the plans and actions for next season are happening now.

Looking at achievements off the pitch: There are great things happening through the Community Trust. You only have to look at the initiatives since Jim Green was appointed and look at the new community website for evidence.

The Senior and Inclusive Blues are working to make a difference. Also not forgetting all the support coming from Ian for the youth, as well as Calum's and all the work of the volunteer coaches producing the players of tomorrow - and not forgetting the women's team. If I have left any group out I haven't done deliberately or maliciously. Apologies if I have.

I now return to the theme of what is success and realistic for the club. It is simply about income streams. On raising income for the club it comes around to involving not only the commercial income streams, but maximising the numbers who attend. The season ticket and CFU membership will be key for achieving a budget that will allow the manager to build the ideal team.

As Exiles we are committed to help and have put ideas forward to support Mark and his team in this crucial task. As a fans owned club supporter numbers equal income. Our current fan base gives us a budget which hopefully will allow us to remain the National League. If we want to maintain or progress then we must increase numbers who attend and are members of CFU.

It is also useful to realise in this increasingly competitive league where "sugar daddies or investors" are everywhere that we may not have the resources to avoid falling into the Conference North, where also "investors" are increasingly present. If this happens we will still have our club which is a core objective. This is not negativity it is realism.

After a number of different attempts we now have a structure to run the club. At its core are the volunteers and I would suggest then we as supporters need to redress the balance by acting as a critical friend and supporting all those whom we have elected to represent us. We need to nurture and encourage those with the passion, expertise and guts who have volunteered.

From the Guildhall times it was about getting our football club back and we have done it. Let's celebrate the positives.

Peter Jones, an Exile