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A letter from the chairman
Aug 29, 2022
A Letter from the Chairman
I thought I would take the opportunity to address our supporters given our turbulent start to this season’s campaign.
It has undoubtedly not been the season start that we would have hoped for, we knew that this would be a very tough league with four full-time teams included but we did not foresee just how difficult it would be to recruit and rebuild what is essentially an entirely new team in a much-changed Scottish football landscape.
Each year at season end, the board and management team draw up a budget and “wish list” of players that we feel will add depth and quality to the squad that we have for the coming year. After losing much of our core group of players to full-time teams in higher divisions, we knew we had to set a competitive budget in order to attract players capable of League One football. When we draw up a list of potential targets, we aim for a 50-60% signing success rate however this year unfortunately we fell well short and I personally have found that getting new players on-board this season has certainly been the most challenging in my tenure as Chairman of PFC.
As we now have a large contingent of players based and training in Aberdeen, we had pinpointed Highland League players who we felt had the ability to make the step up to League One. For various reasons, none of these deals came to fruition. Both the Highland and Lowland Leagues are now heavily financially backed, transfer fees and salaries can be as competitive as they are in the SPFL. Add to this the fact that we are geographically remote from our League One counterparts and that we play part-time football and this becomes an even harder sell. Players who often have family and work commitments face a full working week before traveling a sometime 500 mile round-trip to play against a full-time team who have trained together all week and rested ahead of the game. Part-time football requires sacrifice and not every player is willing to make the work/life balance adjustment that is needed and that was the main reason that the players we approached could not commit.
Missing out on these targets was a setback and with a League Cup campaign looming it meant that we had to think outside the box and therefore we looked further afield to England and overseas to bulk out our squad. We invited many prospective players to train with us and although we have seen some with great potential who we would like to bring in, we have been hampered by red tape and Brexit rule changes. We have then had to rely heavily on Jim McInally and the management team’s network within the game to lure players North, many on short-term contracts or loan agreements. We know that this is not ideal and that many will view us as a springboard for players to improve but long gone are the days of lengthy contracts so if we can utilise and develop these talented young players then hopefully they can progress on to full-time football in the future.
We know that this team is going to take time to bed in as through suspensions and injuries (some long-term involving key players), it has meant that we have not been in a position to ease in new recruits – many who are not fully fit have been thrown straight into a starting 11 through necessity. We appreciate that this requires asking for your patience and support which is not always easy when we are on the receiving end of some heavy defeats but we want you to know that there is no apathy on our part. We have always been ambitious as a board and therefore there can be a temptation to spend more to entice the players we want, but as custodians of PFC we have to safeguard the financial longevity of the club and for that reason we cannot overspend our way to success. We are therefore working tirelessly behind the scenes to continually improve PFC and to increase our corporate sponsorship and advertising revenue to help Jim and his team on the park. There is no one harder on Jim than Jim and he does not need to hear criticism to know that there is a lot of work to be done. He, like everyone else associated with PFC always has the club’s best interests at heart and knows that we are falling short on the park but will do everything he can to progress this team.
It is very easy to call for a knee jerk reaction when results are not going our way but my 35 year experience on the board of PFC has taught me that knee jerk reactions are not always the solution and a more measured approach is often required. This will not be accepted by some but is what we as a board feel is best for Peterhead FC presently.
We know that we have our detractors who can be very vocal on social media demanding answers and transparency from the club. I myself always take a walk around the stadium on a match day, not only to ensure that all is running smoothly but also to make myself visible to fans so that they feel they can approach and chat about any facet of PFC directly. Many that post questions on social media platforms admit that they do not attend games therefore they do not have the opportunity to ask face-to-face so my advice to them is to drop into the club at any time during the day as unlike many part-time clubs, our door is always open. We have supporters who call in daily to chat about anything from the team to the weather and there is always someone readily available to address any concerns. If I myself am not there (I often have an office set up in our coffee shop) then there will always either be Ken (football administrator), Sharon (stadium administrator), Mandy (accounts and IT) or Natty (youth and community liaison) in the club office. They are all more than qualified to discuss the issues that you may want to raise. I believe that personal relationships between the club and fans is very important therefore I would rather speak to supporters myself than have our social media team answer on my behalf. When results are poor there can be a tendency to criticise all aspects of the club but our media team are all volunteers so any criticism and personal insults leveled at them on various platforms is extremely disheartening to hear about – they do great work as do all the volunteers who combine to help us keep this club running.
I traveled on the Supporters bus to the match on Saturday and it was encouraging to see away fans there to get behind the team even after such a difficult few weeks so on behalf of myself and the Board of PFC, I would like to send a heartfelt thank you to all of you for your continued support, both home and away.