Inside the Box from the January edition of The Albion magazine
I don’t suppose many will be sorry to see the back of 2012 from an on-field perspective but for 38 minutes at Ochilview on Wednesday past, I was confident we were going to be able to bring in the New Year with a comfortable win. From my position in the stand, I thought Gary Thom’s red card was harsh, with a couple of our defenders closing in on the ball. The referee thought otherwise and I accept that he saw it as “preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity”.
It will sound like an excuse after the event but the injuries and illness running through the squad at present were well documented in the lead up to the game and were compounded on the day when Brian Allison failed a fitness test on his injured foot, Ross McGeachie was sent back to his sick bed and Jamie McCunnie was too ill to travel. Stephen Day and Jamie Clark both played despite still recovering from flu and Danny Ashe was suffering similarly, but it was good to see him fully recovered from his ankle injury that has sidelined him for the best part of three months.
Other positives were Phil Johnston’s bright start to his loan spell and Jordan White being registered in time to serve his one-match suspension. It’s great to have Jordan signed up for the remainder of the season and I look forward to Phil providing him with plenty of ammunition to add to his goal tally.
Enough from me with regards to on-field matters, I would like to concentrate on behind-the-scenes matters and highlight just a few of the many plusses from 2012, all of which the Executive Board will carry forward as this New Year progresses, as we continue to build on the solid foundations we have established…
The Operational Model for the Club Executive has seen the emergence of a number of Sub Groups that report direct to the Executive Board – Finance, Commercial, Communications & Media and Youth Development. Each has its own chair and delegated authority to progress the strategic steer, of the Club Board, in all matters relevant to their area of responsibility.
Our finances, under the tireless watch of Alan Christie, have been firmly stabilised, our detailed budget projections are monitored on a month-to-month basis and we have no cash-flow issues. Yes, we still have debts to pay to Stirling Council and a number of Loan Note Holders who enabled the purchase of the Club to go ahead (was it really 30 months ago?!) but firm and realistic financial plans are in place for these.
Our hospitality packages have been ramped up to a standard that would do a Premier League Club proud. Lots of people to thank for that but, with apologies to the others, the addition of Jim Inglis to the Commercial Team has been an absolute godsend.
Our “Pay as You Play” Agreement has been firmly bedded in and, as the title suggests, we are fully paying our way with regards to the hire of the Stadium, the pitch, our Club offices and training facilities. Our relationship with Active Stirling goes from strength to strength.
We have reached high-level agreement with Stirling Council with regards to “Payment in Kind” for the outstanding debt and, in support of this, in mid-December we appointed George Craig as Project Manager to ensure we capture as much detail as possible, both internally and externally, to the Club before the project culminates in the appointment of a full-time Community Engagement / Football Development Manager. At this point in time, we have agreed the project scope with George but not the timescale for completion. It is of far greater importance that we get this right rather than work to what might prove to be an unrealistic deadline (although suffice to say I would expect the new post holder to be in situ well before season end). We must engage fully with all stakeholders and this list is lengthy. If you haven’t heard from George, and you think you should be on it, please get in touch with the Club and let us have your name, contact details and the reason(s) why you feel you have something to contribute.
On a personal note, 2012 at SAFC was mentally and physically exhausting (perhaps 38 years behind a desk in the Civil Service wasn’t the best preparation!) but I still retain a passion and plenty of energy, drive and determination to “finish what I started”. Above all, I have utter belief that the business plan that myself and my fellow Executive Board Members are working towards delivering is right for the Club now and for the longer term. I know we’ve got our critics, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I would simply repeat what I’ve said consistently and repeatedly – you know where to find me. Get in touch and I’ll always make myself available to listen to constructive criticism.
J Stuart Brown