Survival packages, emotions and new websites.
What I’m thinking about
- Funding — Finally we will be receiving some kind of information about the £3 million government survival package for clubs in the WSL and Championship! We have a meeting scheduled on Monday alongside the clubs, the FA, Sport England and a consultancy company about the government package. Split evenly across the 23 teams, this would amount to £130,000 though we expect there will be a small amount to the FA for administration perhaps (and the consultancy company?). This will be a lifesaver, as us clubs have been running full steam since July, incurring all our normal costs, with no income. We’re behind closed doors, without ticket sales or revenue from sales in the bar or in our food outlets or in the shop. There are other knock-on impacts from COVID such as an absence of revenue from hiring out our training facilities, and of course we have taken on even more costs, such as higher coach costs so that we can travel in a socially distanced and safe manner, higher hotel costs to ensure safety, plus obviously all the extra cleaning, PPE, and extra facilities required for social distancing on matchdays.
- Emotions. We lost 2–0 on Sunday at home to Sheffield. Since the final whistle at 3pm through Tuesday I was in an absolute funk. I can see it. I can identify it. But you can’t stop it impacting you and your motivation and ability to get up again. When you work 6 days a week (and are basically on call 7 days), a loss can really grind you down, even if — looking at the table it was all expected.
- How proud I am of Lewes’ players. A couple in particular have been dealing with exam pressure and defending their Masters whilst also training hard, often extremely far away from family. Others are under huge amounts of work stress. It’s full on to be required to continue playing at the highest level whilst also maintaining that full-time life outside.
What I’ve been doing
- Dealing with the Transfer Window. This was a busy one for the club — check out this summary here with all the news and updates.
- Submitting our Application for a licence to play in Tier 1. Our current league position doesn’t point to that happening next season, but we’re keen to make sure that the paperwork is ready and filed, not least since decisions around the governance of women’s football are always afoot — with potential expansion or new ownership models on the table for discussion. There’s no way we want to lose out because we weren’t always thinking ahead.
- Onboarding two new colleagues! The back office has comprised 2 people since I arrived at the club in July 2019 (I’ve talked about how Lynne, the Assistant General Manager is the glue that makes everything work). Now we’ve brought the brilliant Biram into a Financial Controller role and Ini, our new striker, will be spending 2 days a week in a commercial role. I’m naturally really excited about what extra, what more we can do behind the scenes as we grow and develop and professionalize.
- Checking the tech and design briefs with the agency that won our tender to completely redesign and rebuild our website. I’m excited about this one — again, it’s going to be an incredible change. I can’t wait for you to see it in April.
- Speaking on a Cruyff Institute seminar on the challenges facing global sport post COVID. I managed to find some silver linings. Things like improving our online offer by live-streaming every game with pro commentators, pushing ticket sales (when we had fans) online so as to capture better data. I also think the pandemic has allowed people to see some club’s true colours and personalities, for good or for bad.
- Also recorded a podcast on sports business — I’ll share when it’s out and spoke to a group of young leaders on the topic of leadership.
- Checking in with the players’ captaincy group. We have three players who rep the rest of the players and have regular conversations with key coaching team members. To date I haven’t been part of those conversations but we want player input into decisions we’ll take as the club grows and develops and changes the way we run, off the pitch as well as on the pitch.
- Discussing integrating the boys and girls pathways and potential future academy structure with Dale, our U18s boys coach and Assistant Coach to the men’s first team.