2019 is off to a terrific start, on the field and off. The first team has clearly turned the corner after a bad first half of the season. Once again, our policy of being different from most of the rest of football and sticking with a manager who has the confidence of everyone at the club has been vindicated.
Results outside the first team have been encouraging, too. A fine Under-23 Premier League Cup campaign ended with a stunning 4-1 win over holders Aston Villa; the development side sits on top of the Central League; the Under-18s have made a fine start in Merit Table 2; and Plymouth Argyle Ladies continue to consolidate after winning promotion last season.
Please come and support the Ladies when they play a big game at Home Park, against Portsmouth, at 2pm this Sunday, March 17. Jane and I will be there, despite my having to return from Fleetwood the night before!
The main source of interest is in the Mayflower Grandstand, which continues to make good progress. The timeline for delivery and fit-out remains for it to be ready for use in the fourth quarter.
We have begun marketing the new hospitality offers, so you can now see some of the computer-generated pictures of how we expect it to look, from the inside, as well as from the outside.
With regard to the latter, I have been asked about the possibility of leaving the outside free of advertising, to preserve the historic look and feel of the Archibald Leitch design.
The Board has yet to make a decision about this, and we do not yet have a clear basis for doing so – we need to know how much revenue would be foregone to leave it empty – but we are clear that any advertising would be put up in a way that did not damage the façade and could be taken down at a later date.
Our tastes are to leave it empty, but financial reality is that we need every penny of revenue we can generate, so it is not an obvious decision.
We have refreshed our policy with regard to social media. You can see it on our website at https://www.pafc.co.uk/siteassets/pdfs/generalsocialmediapolicy.pdf.
The policy is stated in the context of our Club Values. I know it is unpopular in some quarters, where abuse of each other is part of the fun, but we think there is a difference between disagreement and challenge – which we strongly encourage – and abuse.
We think we are now clear where we stand on this issue, but recognise that we have not always been clear in the past. All people who have been blocked from social media channels in the past have been unblocked. Anyone who is blocked in the future will be able to appeal against that decision: at the end of every season, the club will consider written requests to the Chief Executive from anyone who has been subjected to any club sanction to have that sanction reviewed.
The club is also a strong supporter of football’s efforts to eliminate racial abuse, which has no place in our sport. We back the Kick It Out! programme, which will be featured at our home match against Charlton on April 6.
One area that still needs improvement is in regard to financial transparency. We will be changing our financial year end to June, to coincide with the end of the season and to put us more in line with standard practise in the football world.
Our goal is to give you all a clear sense of where the money that comes in – from ticket sales, the EFL and other sources – all goes, without giving away anything that would damage our competitive position.
Sorry that it has taken so long, but we are still working on it.
Jane and I will be in Devon for much of March, partly to coincide with the launch of the hospitality offering, but we will also be having a Fans’ Forum in the GT Suite on Wednesday, March 20, starting at 7.30pm.
With the Fans’ Forums, the Fans’ Assembly, Michael Dunford’s surgeries, this blog and access to me through social media, I hope you agree that the club’s level of engagement with the Green Army has continued to increase.