Seasiders secretary Matt Williams gives you the inside track on five busy days at Bloomfield Road.
MONDAY JULY 1
The bulk of my day is spent in Preston at the Football League offices for a club secretaries’ meeting.
The main topics on the agenda are regulation changes, football administration systems, registrations and changes to players’ contracts, financial fair play and a presentation from the FA on discipline, doping control, betting regulations and social media issues encountered by players and club staff.
One of the main talking points is over clubs selecting their strongest possible team in the Capital One Cup. We received a bit of criticism two seasons ago when we fielded a “reserve” side for the televised tie at Sheffield Wednesday, which we lost on penalties after extra-time. I joked that we fielded our strongest side at home to Morecambe last season and lost, so there is no correlation between team selection and results.
Other points to come from the meeting are confirmation that the summer transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday September 2.
Clubs are also reminded that the 2013/14 season will be the last season for emergency loans. The Football League assure the meeting they are working hard with the FA to try to persuade FIFA to have a change of heart.
I arrive back at Bloomfield Road and am immediately summoned into a meeting with Karl Oyston, Paul Ince, Alex Rae and Steve Thompson to discuss transfers. We discuss various players, the loan system and changes to the way overseas loans work. A number of meetings are then planned for Tuesday and Wednesday – it looks as though it could be a hectic week!
Following the meeting, Karl and I discuss the increased police costs and other issues surrounding the switching of the Easter Saturday game against Burnley to Good Friday. Police costs are at least 50 per cent higher on the Friday, but we agree the best preparation for the Easter Monday game away at Brighton is to give the players the extra day.
TUESDAY JULY 2
My day begins doing some work for the Boss (not Karl on this occasion, my other half Hannah), helping set up the Presidential Suite at Bloomfield Road for her workshop. She manages the Royal Mail for the FY and LA postcode areas, and is running a women’s development workshop “Springboard” for delivery postwomen.
The players meet at the stadium before heading to the hotel gym for a workout with Shaun Spencer.
It’s the first time I have seen most of them since the Bolton game in May and my office door becomes something of a revolving door, with players asking for advice.
A number of triallists are introduced to the squad and as ever Matt Gilks is at the heart of the banter.
Another new face at the club is Ben Reddiough. Ben is a final-year journalism student at UCLAN. He wants to become a broadcast news journalist and we have given him the opportunity of assisting our media department with video interviews and packages that will be shown on the club’s You Tube channel and big screen.
Ben is a confident lad, who is full of ideas and I am looking forward to seeing his work over the coming weeks and months.
I head to a meeting with our commercial manager and stadium betting partner Ladbrokes. We discuss a number of ways of promoting the partnership, including a players’ charity bet at the start of the season, half-time competitions and other ideas.
Lunch is spent with Paul and the chairman for a quick update and we agree to meet late afternoon.
The afternoon is spent with Richie Kyle, Ciaran Donnelly, Jamie Milligan and Josie Smith from our youth department. We discuss issues and prepare for our meeting with the Football League on Thursday.
Late afternoon and early evening is again spent with the chairman, manager and Alex Rae.
We finally reach an agreement with Gary MacKenzie and (former Charlton striker) Danny Haynes, and Phil Horner is asked to arrange medicals for Thursday. We continue to discuss the latest batch of players who have been made available or suggested to us by agents and agree to chase up a number of leads.
WEDNESDAY JULY 3
The first e-mail lands from Myerscough College after we agreed to recruit two apprentice groundsmen from their Sports Turf course. They inform us they have 46 interested candidates and we agree to let Myerscough draw up a shortlist of 10 for interview.
With Gary MacKenzie agreeing personal terms, I set about drafting the financial agreement with MK Dons as well as Gary’s contract.
Our financial agreements have evolved and Gary’s is seven pages long. The standard player’s contract is 19 pages in length, and with the various other registration and agent’s forms over 30 pages are required.
In addition, the player, club, FA and Football League all require copies.
Another two contracts are drafted for players and their medicals are booked for Thursday. Fingers crossed, things are beginning to fall into place.
After a few weeks of negotiating with various coach companies, we finally reach an agreement with Ellisons, who are based in St Helens and have contracts with many top Premier League clubs. As part of the agreement, they are sponsoring a player and we discuss who is best for them. We arrange a photocall to publicise our agreement.
THURSDAY JULY 4
The first call of the morning is to Phil Horner at 8am to ensure Gary MacKenzie has arrived for his medical. He confirms this and the five MRI scans begin. Two more medicals are booked in for players today. One takes place but the other cancelled after the player has a “change of heart” and opts to stay in the capital.
The majority of the afternoon is spent with David Weatherall, Jim Briden and Phil Stant from the Football League to discuss last season’s report on the club’s academy, our new staffing structure and ways of ensuring the club more than comply with the rules and regulations of the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan).
My thoughts on the pros and cons of the EPPP could fill the sports pages of The Gazette for the next month. However, our focus is to ensure that the academy is fully compliant and is treated as an integral part of the club. One of the areas we will look to improve on is the media coverage of the academy and their games, so hopefully our supporters will be able to learn more about the club’s work in youth football.
Phil Horner confirms there are no issues with either of the medicals, so Gary pens the paperwork and we agree to speak to MK Dons to agree a time to announce the MacKenzie transfer.
The second player who passed his medical has agreed terms and hopefully will be unveiled in the coming days.
The day draws to a close with a message from the chairman that I should begin preparing paperwork for Kirk Broadfoot, I agree with Broady that we will meet on Friday..
FRIDAY JULY 5
My dad, who has been with me for the last three nights, heads back to Oldham.
Given the recent loss in our family, it has been a welcome break for my dad to get away for a few days and spend some time on the Fylde coast.
Back at work the paperwork for Broady is finalised and awaits his arrival.
It sits waiting until late afternoon, when Kirk calls in and signs the paperwork.
He does a quick interview for the website and heads to the hotel to rest up ahead of the trip to Penrith.
The manager has named a 22-man squad for the trip, including a number of lads who have been on trial for the last week.
One of the lads is a Swedish striker. We speak to his club to ascertain whether he can play at Penrith.
They were aware of his trial but were expecting him back in Sweden to play an important league game on Sunday. Fortunately, the sporting director at the Swedish club speaks fluent English and we eventually get permission for the player to play 45 minutes on Saturday and return for their game on the Sunday.
SATURDAY JULY 6
Having watched the Lions triumph Down Under, it’s a mad dash up the M6 for the first pre-season friendly at Penrith.
Penrith’s Frenchfield ground is a picturesque spot and the travelling Pool fans make the most of their hospitality and the sunshine.
The game gives the manager the chance to run the rule over seven triallists.
Two different sides play 45 minutes each and Pool run out comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to second-half goals from Matty Phillips and Thomas Ince.
I leave the game £20 better off, having won one of the half-time football cards.
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