I can announce that I have now submitted our full application for membership to the English Football League (EFL) as I believe we now meet all of the required criteria and await their response in the near future.
The position we are in is the culmination of 12 years hard work and major investment into our Crabble stadium.
In the last two years you have seen a new Family Stand, containing dressing rooms and official’s facilities that fully meet requirements, as well as the safety control room, the installation of over 50 cameras, renewal of our public address system and the inclusion of our disabled viewing platform with lift.
This was followed by new floodlights to provide the LUX values required by the EFL and a new executive lounge with a new entrance behind the Centre Spot to provide much needed VIP facilities.
The latest addition, finished only last week, are new safety barriers required because if promoted we will not be able to use the flat standing areas behind the goals.
The barriers were required to increase capacity to the terraced areas in order to meet minimum membership requirements for the EFL.
With the exception of the grant for the family stand, these improvements have been largely financed by myself and my wife Sally with a little help from sponsors, but could not have been achieved without a great deal of practical help from, in particular, Neil Cook and John Heath – my sincere thanks to them.
I would also like to thank our Consultant Engineer Simon Oakley and Mark Duly from Kent Fire and Rescue for their assistance.
It has also been a challenge to ensure we have medical staff with the required qualifications and we welcome back to the Club Paul Wilson as head Physiotherapist.
Paul is eminently qualified and comes to us having obtained Football League experience.
We now have a fantastic team of three Doctors led by Dr Cox and my thanks go to him Dr Gregory and Dr Cardwell for their support.
I also welcome Chris Fudge who is now assisting us in the requirement for a trained Paramedic.
Many of these requirements will no doubt be a surprise to the majority of supporters but the rules for membership are stringent and are rigorously enforced.
Without compliance we would not be eligible for the play-offs, let alone promotion.
Of course we are only in this position because of the fantastic exploits of our team on the pitch and the Management Staff.
They deserve many accolades and these will be forthcoming as the business end of the season progresses.
But most of all they deserve the support of the Town, so please get your friends up to Crabble to roar the Team over the line.
It is a great pity that we now read that Chester FC are reporting financial difficulties and that they join Hartlepool United in facing an uncertain future.
It is a mystery to me how a club receiving an £800,000 plus parachute payment can be in this position, but there we are.
It is important to remind supporters of the financial reality of running Clubs at this level particularly when competing with the Clubs with larger bankrolls.
In our case, we do not have the largest budget, nor do we have the smallest, but we have moved into a phase where some players are full-time and require 52-week contracts.
We have to keep, our feet on the ground and not let the “red mist” descend or we will soon be in the same position as the Clubs mentioned above.
So please, when discussing which player we should sign this week or next week try and consider where the money is coming from.
There is no point having players to win things if the facilities mean that you can’t be promoted, several Clubs will experience that pain this year.
To put into context the cost of watching football at our level and Dover Athletic in particular, an average gate receipt after deducting V.A.T. at 20% and match day costs will pay approximately half of that week’s wages, so all the other running costs plus a great deal of the wage bill rely on sponsorship and frankly my support.
We want success and I know our supporters want success, but without income and people coming through the gates on a match day that task requires a massive leap of faith on my part.
I ask everyone to try and do their bit you can all make a big difference if you can get just one person to join you on match days.
Thanks for reading and best wishes to you all.