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Season'S Preview #2

By Gerry Dunn (Vice Chairman)
Tue, 30th Jul 2002 12:00am

Sports journalists are often referred to as 'fans with typewriters.' In many ways football club directors could be described as 'fans with ties.' The vast majority of directors would still be supporters even if they weren't on the board, and like everyone else at Clyde Football Club the directors want to see a successful team on the park. If the first team is winning, it also helps to drive all the other aspects of the club; - attendance, sponsorship, hospitality, advertising, community relations, and attracting the best young footballers to join our Youth Division. With the costs of having a stadium such as Broadwood it is vital for Clyde that we play at the highest possible level. I freely admit to being pathologically optimistic but I do believe that we are now better equipped on the playing side than we have been for many years. As always this league will be tight but I expect us to be scrapping at the top rather than anywhere else.

Aside from the performance of the first team there are a number of things we have to achieve as a club in the coming season. It has been well documented that Clyde's average home gate was under 1500 last season. We simply have to get more people, more paying customers, to come to our home games. Under the Target 2K project, headed up by Bob McPherson, a lot of work has been done and is being done to increase season ticket sales. With offers such as £20 for a child's season and a reduction in the adult season ticket, sales are about 25% up on last year. We are also proposing to open the South Stand for families with prices of £8 and £4 and we will be going into local schools to encourage local youngsters to come to Broadwood... and bring their families and friends. It would be great if every Clyde fan could bring one extra person to home games with them. If we can achieve our target average of 2000 that will be a massive achievement and something we can build on. There is no monopoly on good ideas so if anyone has a way to get more people along to Broadwood on match days they should let Bob know.

In addition, we need to increase our income from commercial activities. Broadwood is an expensive base to have, but it also allows us to offer the very best in match day hospitality. Our commercial manger Sharron McCarthy is building up this side of the business and although the lure of Ibrox and Parkhead is a hurdle, she believes that we only have to get people in once to get them back again.

I also want to mention our Youth division. Over the past two years John Bean and his team of coaches have developed a structure which is as good as anything in the country. This season we will be running youth teams and development squads from age 9 up to 16 as well as the under-18 squad which will serve as back up to the first team. The structure is funded through sponsorship from Gist and our Bonus Ball fundraiser. It is a long time since we were able to field a player in the first team who had come up through the ranks. I believe it will happen this season.

Of course the first duty of directors is to ensure that the club can pay its bills and have a secure long-term future. We can't do that on gates of 1500. We have to do everything we can to get that number up to 2000 (at least), secure a good, long-term sponsorship deal and maximise our income from commercial activities. And, sorry, but if part of bridging that gap means we also have to sell a player, even our best player, then so be it. Some supporters say to me from time to time 'Why don't you push the boat out and show a bit of ambition?' Believe me, the boat is out and the maintenance of full time football and our presence at Broadwood demonstrates the club's desire to be among Scotland's top sixteen. The football economy is littered with the debris of clubs who couldn't draw the line between ambition and self-destruction. I think Clyde fans know that we have to get that balance right and build for the future by developing our own players.