'The spirit in the camp remains very positive'
Welcome to our penultimate home game of the season and a Happy Easter to everyone.
Today we entertain Port Vale and extend a warm welcome to their fans, players and officials.
I am delighted to also welcome our Chairman for the Day - Jack Groves.
Jack's Dad, Steve, generously bid for the opportunity, raising much-needed funds for the wonderful charity "Special Effects".
Jack is 10 years old and lives in Sussex. He lives and breathes football and he plays goalkeeper for his local side. His favourite players are Rob Hall and Chey Dunkley.
In his own words, Jack believes that:
"We are on course for promotion next season and have the right manager to deliver it. Jack doesn't want to start any transfer rumours but he suggests to Michael Appleton that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be a good signing this summer and is probably good for a few goals in league one still!"
I am sure Michael will be delighted to receive this vote of confidence from the Chairman and will echo his ambition of bringing players like Zlatan to the club.
I am sure Jack will have a wonderful, action-packed day as Chairman and I look forward to being able to simply enjoy the game as Jack takes over my duties. Let's hope we can cap the day with a victory!
Since my last notes, we had an entertaining draw at Walsall where, once again, a number of curious refereeing decisions went against us. On the plus side, we played some excellent, sharp attacking football and I was delighted that Canice followed up his first League start against Fleetwood with a performance of maturity and class - he has a very bright future in the game!
The spirit in the camp remains very positive as we now seek to finish the season with momentum which will carry us through pre-season and will be the foundation of a fast start to next season's campaign.
Our attention now focuses on learning from what has been an excellent first season in League 1 and strengthening the squad where Michael feels appropriate.
We start this process from a position of strength, with a strong core of young talent who will have benefited significantly from this year’s experience. We continue to seek to build sustainably and I see every reason to be confident that next season the play-offs are a realistic ambition.
We are also close to announcing next season's season ticket prices after a lengthy process of review and discussion, especially using Football League data as a starting point for where our prices and structure presently benchmark.
Personally I find this a difficult judgement call as I want fans to have competitively priced football but I also have to be realistic that if we have play-off ambitions, we do need to continue to invest in the squad and, of course, we do not have the benefit of owning our own stadium.
I have always emphasised that the club will be run sustainably under my stewardship, where budgetary responsibility is essential. My personal funding, together with the benefit of our player trading model, while continuing to invest in strengthening the squad, ensures that the club is on increasingly firm foundations, despite the disadvantageous stadium situation.
As I have said in previous notes, cash flow is king in football, as it is in most walks of life. This is why season ticket holders contribute so much. They are the rock of the club and to have over 5,000 this season is an amazing level of committed support. Thank you on behalf of the club for this fantastic loyalty.
Accordingly, we will seek to ensure that fans have choice and our price per game remains attractive and competitive, especially when benchmarked against our ambitions.
Enjoy the game today and I hope Jack has a day to remember.
Best wishes and COYY!