VIEW FROM THE BOARDROOM – Paul Armitage’s Notes (26/04/23 + 29/04/23)

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When we have had a full squad to choose from, we have been competitive at NLN level and have probably just lacked a goalscoring threat too often, not only up front but from midfield too, and we have had a lack of luck on the injury front.

Getting the right blend of experience, youthful agility and loan players can fill gaps until you find the ideal blend of skills, energy and versatility and our guys have done that with considerable success over recent years and at the same time helped several players to make good progress in their footballing careers. Mark and Danny have clearly made the best of the situation despite the financial limitations. Not only have bullets been dodged but play-offs have been seen too. At last, we are now seeing academy lads coming through the system and that’s another important source of useful playing options to be developed.

Our Academy first team are close to topping an under 19 league, playing against U19 teams from Wrexham, Fylde, Halifax and Rochdale this season. Integrating the Academy successes with the first team will be an increasingly important job now.

Don’t forget that Martin Knight also recruited two excellent assets in Calum and Tom, who are now establishing the basic requirements of a well-run, part-time football club in a deprived community.

We have met the National League’s and FA rules on lease-holding length, finance reporting, ground facilities, floodlighting upgrades and capacity levels this season, indeed the ground is an improving asset.

We have had reasons to be concerned about some league and FA rulings impacting us – the unlisted sub used by Gateshead in the cup, with disqualification applied for a similar offence elsewhere; the disappointing decision to make us play the Scarborough home game despite a very lengthy injury list. Two more points against Scarborough by having a full squad available would have been very useful this season, but the ‘rules is rules’ approach was applied, leaving us wondering where and how the very strict ground grading rules and financial reporting rules will be applied this year. The March 31st ‘deadline’ appears to have become ‘flexible’ already. Hopefully the NL can sort the situation out by the end of April.

Horsfall isn’t a traditional football setting, but neither were our friendly rugby grounds shared over the years. We have always had to make the best of our locations and facilities and thanks to Gareth we have improved the venue, despite the state it was left in by lack of funding from the council, for which there are doubtless many good reasons, and we have created useful income drivers, mainly for match days, and increasingly for days when the football teams don’t need it.

The stadium’s versatility will hopefully see a long weekend of Rugby League Finals in the late summer, which is a tribute to the improved facilities, with basic costs covered by the RL and an opportunity for the stadium (and us) to make money that couldn’t have happened over past years in the summer months, by using all the new facilities.

Every fan, player and manager wants success on the field, and we have had to try do this whilst also improving the stadium and establishing an academy from scratch. Every past regime has had to make compromises of one sort or another to keep Avenue alive and have tried many ways of financing the dream. Other football clubs have faced, and are still facing, financial challenges, but unless we win our last two games, we will be looking to join Guiseley in the NPL next season.

Having said all that, we must reduce our reliance on our benefactor and our budget-setting for next season has been done, with a target of maintaining a strong first team budget by improving stadium and academy income. Your support for all our stadium events has a positive and direct impact on our footballing fortunes and the work of the Development Fund has been, and will be, important for next season.

As we enter a full year three of the academy, we need to see that value-investment paying off in the first team squad, with versatility, wise contracts and some lower outgoings. All this applies, whichever league we are playing in. Transfer fees with knock-on selling clauses can be vital for success – just check out the value our neighbours have had from the McBurnie sale, which even now is still reducing their operating losses.

As mentioned in previous notes we will be aiming to improve some stadium facilities over the summer months so that we can earn more money from our retailing efforts, and we are very keen to enhance the academy’s development with new coaching agreements that earn more money to cover costs and help to develop more good players.

If we manage to develop streaming facilities next season, we will aim for the channel to be as professional as we can make it, using Tom Ogden’s skills. Of course, nobody can stream games from 2.45pm on Saturdays and the NL insist you use their own system and incur their charges, with very few bells and whistles available. Keep watching our social media pages for news about streaming, season tickets, new kit, pre-season friendlies, stadium events, academy news, game highlights etc – and check out a few other club media pages at this level. I think you’ll find we are one of the better sites for information, news updates and variety. We will aim to be the best.

These will be my last programme notes of the season, but I may continue to write for the club social media for the next couple of months when we have more news from the boardroom. I hope you have found the notes of interest and that you have learned more about club matters from them.  

Over recent weeks I have been keen to expand and expound on club matters so that our supporters feel better informed and so that board activity is explained where necessary. Fortunately, no lengthy ‘club statements’ on problems or changes have been necessary so far, so keep on checking us out on Twitter or Facebook or You Tube on