On behalf of Aldershot Town FC, a warm welcome to Leyton Orient directors, players, management and supporters to tonight’s match at the EBB Stadium.
The O’s are flying high currently top of the National League and in the semi-final of the FA Trophy. We wish them luck but with the old cliché, after tonight’s match. We wish a safe journey home to all the travelling supporters back to East London.
On a personal note, I welcome Bessler Hendrie and partners and their guests, our match ball sponsors and Scrivener Tibbatts, Clive and Zahid as match sponsors with their guests.
At the recent AGM we were in the presence of the leader of Rushmoor Borough Council, David Clifford, who postponed his Cabinet meeting to be with us to demonstrate to the club the commitment from Rushmoor to ensure Aldershot Town FC has the structure to be sustainable moving forwards. Whilst our concept proposal had some challenging planning issues, I can assure you that the council is fully behind the development plans. I’m always disappointed to read or hear through various social media, that Rushmoor doesn’t care about the club. I and the board have over the past 5-6 years developed an excellent relationship, and whilst I don’t like putting timelines on decisions, hope to have some positive news NOT in years but within months. The club and the town has to prosper and can only do this with a new development at the current site. It is imperative. Rushmoor have confirmed that they want the football club to stay in its current position as it brings local economic and footfall to the town.
I can also confirm that all our current major sponsors that Mark and I have visited in the last few weeks have agreed to renew their current financial sponsorship in current form and in few cases it has been increased irrelevant which league we compete in. We have two sponsors we need to visits but due to holidays that was not possible. I can again can confirm that Chelsea have agreed to extend their use of EBB stadium 2019/20 season. The total off pitch income is 60% of our business and I and the club are extremely grateful to all our sponsors /advertisers for their continued support and belief in the club
Turning to football matters, like all our supporters without stating the obvious, it’s been a “horrible “ season, but this is not the time to have a post-mortem. The time will be after the season has completed and it is vital that we are galvanised to ensure we have the best chance of survival in this league.
I can assure you that Gary, the team, the board and the club are not happy where we are. This has been a hugely challenging season on so many counts. We know this is hurting you all tremendously but please be assured how much this hurts us too. How soul destroying it was on Saturday travelling back down the M6 seeing a deserved point at Barrow chalked off due to a hugely controversial penalty in the sixth minute of injury time. It was a desperate journey home. For those who have done so please have a think about things before accusing me and my colleagues of not caring. We care passionately about the club. There is no money or prestige being involved in a football club at this level. We spend hundreds of hours each month committed to the club. Yes, it is our responsibility to put this right but please, again, anybody who makes the accusation of not caring- you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Have we got everything right this season? Obviously not.
Have we made mistakes? Yes!
Are we fully committed to Aldershot Town FC? Yes
Are we going to walk away from the club? No
Discussions about relegation are not on the agenda, until it’s mathematically impossible to stay up. However we have 30 points to play for and I know that Gary and his team are working hard to ensure that we have the best chance to achieve the target of survival. To have the best chance we need all supporters to get behind the team. I have no issues with you slating the Board. I understand the passion. I understand the anger. As a supporter you have every right to air your thoughts but every view must be balanced. For every criticism there has to be a solution. If you believe you have a solution I would be happy to hear this.
Many supporters have said that I don’t communicate. I have over the past few months openly offered to personally meet supporters to give them the opportunity to air thoughts, grievances and frustrations. Indeed anything that they wish to bring to the table concerning the club. Sadly only one fan has taken me up on the offer. With this in mind I have agreed a bi-monthly fans forum. The dates will be published shortly.
Finally there has been talk of a consortium in the wing and I am aware of the work that has been undertaken behind the scenes from individuals, speaking to number of minority shareholders as well as past directors, Paramount for any discussions is the safeguarding of the club moving forwards. Every decision that is made has to be for the benefit of the football club. Not what is good for Shahid Azeem or the Board of Directors but Aldershot Town Football Club. We haven’t battled through the turbulence we have endured since taking the club out of administration in 2013 to jeopardise the future of the football club by it falling into the wrong hands. We have completed our “due diligence” regarding the said consortium and concluded some of the representatives /associates involved have failed the “Fit and Proper” test and some have cases with serious investigation from authorities abroad. I didn’t think it was appropriate for them to be involved in our club and this option will not be considered further.
Please be assured we do not under estimate the situation we are currently in but I clarify one again. We care passionately about the football club and will work incessantly to improve matters both on and off the pitch.
Please support the team.