I hope all of our supporters have had an enjoyable summer, and have been able to bask in the glorious weather this last week or so!
It has been an incredibly busy close season, as usual, and our team here have undertaken a huge amount of work ahead of the 2022/23 season, which we are firmly looking forward to now!
This is my first update in a little while, and the first as CEO, largely due to the strange routine that the close season creates, but I will get back to the regular monthly updates moving forwards into the season.
I am conscious that a transcript of my conversation with Dave Salmon at Beyond Radio went out in June, so I hope this kept you up to speed with various matters. I hope that the below information covering the breadth of the Club is of interest to you;
The roof is now in situ, with electrical works being undertaken as we speak. Some finishes are still due, including shelving along the rear wall, and this should be done very shortly. The Shrimps Trust will now be looking to resurrect the ‘Legends Wall’ which has been partially hidden whilst the works have gone on, and we thank them once again for their fundraising efforts to support the ‘Raise the Roof’ scheme.
I hope that it is a welcome addition to your matchday experience in the Bartercard Terrace, and we will ensure that some entertainment is provided in there from time-to-time over the season. We had looked at relocating the boundary wall at the east side of the stadium (away terrace end), but this project has proven cost prohibitive once the formal quotes came in, at this moment in time.
This time last year, we were preparing for our first season in Sky Bet League One at Lancaster University, with all the facilities we required under one roof, as such. Our relationship with the University was, and is, positive and we thank them for their assistance last season.
As we entered the winter months, the grass pitches did not hold up quite how we had hoped, so in January we moved to Lancaster & Morecambe College, where our Academy were already based. This allowed us opportunity to integrate the football team and staff together at one venue, which was a benefit.
The arrangement also allows players & staff to utilise our facilities at the Mazuma Stadium, including our recently upgraded gym, and again, this helps us to maintain a close knit relationship between the playing and non-playing departments at the Club.
Over the summer, we invested money into the grass pitch at the College, and additional staffing on the grounds team, which is now in place, so we expect to improve the quality of the training pitch, which in turn will allow use better use throughout the winter months when the poor weather inevitably arrives.
As I write this update, we are delighted to welcome Ash Hunter, Donald Love, Max Melbourne, Farrend Rawson, Connor Ripley Jake Taylor & Caleb Watts to the Club. No doubt these talented players will make a positive contribution to the squad, and we very much look forward to seeing them in competitive action.
We have also welcomed Greg Strong to the Club, as Head of Recruitment, and he has already made an impression on us, with his work identifying suitable targets for Derek’s squad, and his positive contribution around the building which is great to see. We have so far played a few pre season friendlies, with some positive performances and results, with three more fixtures still to play against Chester FC, Middlesbrough & Carlisle United, ahead of the big kick-off on Saturday 30 July at home to Shrewsbury Town, which our focus is on.
We have met with our friends at the Shrimps Trust, looking at how we can work together to ensure that we provide away travel to all away fixtures this season, as last year was a little bit stop-start with a number of partners taking on coach travel at various times over the season, but without the consistency and certainty that supporters understandably look for.
As a result, we have agreed to take on away travel in partnership with the Shrimps Trust, whereby we will ensure that a coach will go to every away fixture over the season, and for the more local fixtures, we can put more coaches on subject to demand.
The scheme will run in a similar fashion to the away trips we arranged last season, via our online ticketing system, and news on the coach travel to Peterborough United will be shared as soon as we can. We would like to thank all of our supporter groups that arrange, or indeed travel, to away fixtures, and we hope that this scheme will allow even more supporters to attend our away fixtures over the season.
Our Community Sports team continue to excel and grow, with new members of staff set to join in the near future as our projects in and around the Morecambe & Lancaster area continue to expand.
We intend to set record player engagement figures this year, and have already got off to a great start with Courtney Duffus attending our Extra Time session last week - these run at the Mazuma Stadium every Friday.
Thank you to Janet, Stuart and the whole Community Sports team for everything you do and the positive impact you have on our community through the vehicle of Morecambe FC & the Charity. We will be looking to increase awareness and the profile of the Charity and their work over this season, including a presence at home fixtures and designated ‘Community’ fixtures.
Please do check out more regarding all the work that the team do in our local area to improve health & wellbeing here.
It was great to visit the Academy a few weeks ago to welcome all our scholars, both first year and those returning for their second year. Stewart, Neil and the team there work tirelessly to ensure the best experience possible for all of our scholars and younger academy players, and we are very much looking forward to adding to the team with a Player Care role that the EFL are supporting from this season onwards.
This provides the players with a strong football offer, but also wider lifeskills and education to ensure that everyone has opportunities, whether that be in football or not, following their time at our Club. Again, we will be looking to highlight the Academy further this season, and I would like to wish all of our young players the best of luck ahead of the new season!
The online shop has had a slight rebrand once again as we navigate these new waters and look to continually improve in everything we do. Our partners at the Terrace have worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to get our personalisation live across the site, where a wide variety of items can be personalised as you wish, which will include playing shirts very soon.
I would hope you agree that the website, and our retail offer, is in the best place it has ever been (so far!) and the website looks and works exactly how you would expect as a supporter. Thanks to Martin and Natalie, and Carl & Paul at the Terrace, for their continued hard work to make us better each and every day.
We were disappointed in the delay in delivery of our playing kits and replica shirts ahead of this season, which we were told was due to global supply and delivery issues – we have made our thoughts clear and we expect that next season matters have improved and we receive our stock in a better time frame. The shirts have proven extremely popular, with fantastic pre-sales already, and the stock is now on sale in the shop and online, so we hope the positive trend keeps up as we move towards the season. If you haven’t already bought yours, or want to take a look at the website, you can here.
Sales have yet again been absolutely outstanding, and we are now past the 2,300 mark with more than two weeks still to go until the start of the new season. Based upon historical trends, we would expect to surpass last seasons total of circa 2,500, which is quite remarkable given the pressures that we appreciate everybody is under at the moment.
It is so important to us to keep football affordable for all, as football fans ourselves, whilst ensuring that we balance the books and continue to progress the Club on and off the pitch.
Thank you to each and every person who has purchased their season ticket, or spread the word to their friends, family, colleagues and all. Without the buy in and support of you, this scheme does not get off the ground. We all saw the impact of your support last season in ensuring we remained in the division, and there is no doubt once again that your support will be crucial this season. If you haven’t already bought yours, you can do so here.
We have made some slight changes to the segregation line this season again, as section B has very limited use for home supporters due to access issues and lack of facilities to serve the people who would sit in this area.
It is an EFL & safety certificate requirement to have a robust segregation in place between home & away supporters, hence why we invested in a better physical barrier last season across some seating in the main stand. As a result, and to maximise the number of times we can use the Dennison’s Trailer terrace for home supporters and community initiatives, we have moved the segregation line across section B, which will allow up to 600 away supporters to be houses in sections A & part of section B, and when travelling numbers are expected to be less than this 600, we can use the Dennison’s Trailer terrace as an extra home area.
We are very much looking forward to seeing you all once again next week at our pre season friendlies, or if you cannot make them, at the first game of the season against Shrewsbury Town on Saturday 30 July.
Tickets will be on sale very soon and we hope for a bumper crowd to get the new season under way.
Thank you for your continued support, and here’s to another great season, together.