Clyde will become Scotland’s leading Community Football Club, was the bold conclusion of the recent meeting of directors.
Following the long term decline of its core support, the club will now work hard to meet its new ambition, an ambition that will not be easily achieved given the high standards already set by many other Scottish clubs able to use their stadium facilities to support their efforts. The fact that the target is to aim high perhaps sets the scene for the scale of change that the club wishes to see delivered for the benefit of all Clyde supporters and the community it operates within.
It will take time for the impact of this decision to be visibly obvious, but the process starts immediately with the preparation of a short term plan covering the next three seasons. This is a plan that will be shared with the supporters of the club and interested stakeholders, the plan will offer ample opportunity for supporters to take part in the rebuilding of our club.
All participants at the meeting left with a range of coordinated actions that will feed into the short term plan, it is expected that others not involved in the meeting will be asked to take part.
Every club grew within its community, Clyde certainly did, but as the original areas of Oatlands and Gorbals were depopulated in the sixties, even a Europe qualifying 3rd position in the old 1st division saw poor attendances at Shawfield. The community the club had grown in became dispersed and found alternative uses for a Saturday. Subsequent years on the road saw a diminishing support until the club eventually settled in Cumbernauld where an initial rise in attendances has not been sustained.
There are many theories as to why this decline has happened. The Cumbernauld Development Corporation were keen to have Clyde at Broadwood but as local authority reorganisation left Broadwood on the outer edges of a new North Lanarkshire, the club failed to meet its commitments to its new landlord and only engaged in sporadic efforts to work within the local community. The consequence of this is that club has become less and less relevant to the community it was supposed to grow in.
It is time that Clyde returned to being an integral part of community life where its efforts are valued and those that live and work within the community feel positive about the club even if they are not attending games. That kind of individual affinity with a club is what will help make a club like Clyde sustainable in its community.
Clyde has proven without doubt that success on the park does not of itself produce crowds, we were, as the song says, ‘one goal from the SPL’, yet our home crowds were massively short on being able to finance a squad that could hold its own at the top end of the SFL. We can now only speculate as to whether ten years of consistent hard work in the community prior to that season would have seen more people interested in watching Clyde that season, if they had, we might not have faced financial meltdown that season – a meltdown from which we have not yet recovered.
The decision is now to work tirelessly attempting to integrate the club with the community at the same time as we support the playing squad to achieve.
The club has to develop a sustainable model of operation, one which sees the club in control of its own destiny at all levels and not continually seeking permission to operate its business. A major influence in this will be how the North Lanarkshire Council owned North Lanarkshire Leisure Trust develop their discussions with the club. We are hopeful that our plans to make the club an important focus of the community will be seen as valuable to North Lanarkshire Council and that they will support us fully in the years to come.
The financial challenges faced by the club are no less now than they were at the beginning of the season; that said, subject to continued support from North Lanarkshire Council and the Leisure Trust then relative stability can exist, any withdrawal of support by these bodies would be immediately damaging. It is with this backdrop that the club must make its efforts to become independently sustainable through building an affinity with its community.