The O Zone: Plans afoot for next season, in whichever division
Behind the scenes at Leyton Orient: Promotion would make a massive difference to us in every area
Monday 07 April 2014
Most of the time a football club, on both the playing side and the administrative, lives from match to match, but there is also long-term planning to be done. This season is still boiling up to a climax but we have already had to start looking ahead to next season and that is made more complicated by not knowing what division we will be in.
There is a lot to do but after a mad March, with seven games in the space of 29 days, last week was a quiet one. The players were given a couple of rest days after the Bradford defeat, there was no midweek game, and the treatment room was relatively quiet.
The quieter times provide an opportunity for the staff to catch up on odd jobs but also to focus on the future. Barry Hearn, the chairman, was in to take us for one of his now renowned greasy-spoon breakfast meetings at the Royal Café on Leyton High Road. Barry was already waiting for us when we arrived at 8.15am as he was hungry that particular morning. He also had an appetite to review this season with myself and the commercial team and to think ahead to the 2014-15 campaign.
While no one is giving up on automatic promotion, least of all the gaffer, Russell Slade, and the players, it is beginning to look as if we will be in the play-offs, which means a further delay in knowing whether we will be a Championship or League One side come August. The season could end on 3 May or go on to 25 May. There is also the possibility of playing at Wembley.
This affects countless big decisions to be made for next season, such as pre-season training dates, ticket and hospitality prices, and for Barry, Russ and Matt, the chief executive, pricing up the playing budget, which obviously affects the contracts of current and potential players.
Whatever happens on the pitch, though, there are some things we need to be getting on with regardless and the wheels are in motion for a couple of big changes already.
Matt and Steve, the stadium manager, have been busy in the last few weeks arranging for the ground to have a bit of a facelift. Football League rules have changed regarding floodlights: the brightness levels have gone up across all four divisions, meaning we will have to get new floodlights fitted.
The East Stand is the oldest of the four sides at the Matchroom Stadium and plans are being made to replace the wooden seats with new ones and make a couple of structural changes. The stand originally came from the Mitcham Stadium, which was home to speedway and rugby but was demolished in 1956. It was dismantled, transported across London and reassembled in its current home.
Last year we had a new drainage system installed under the pitch and tons of the top soil were removed and transported to Hackney Marshes, just down the road from the club.
I’ve found that clubs are happy to share in other areas too, and I will regularly swap programmes with other teams to share and borrow ideas ahead of a relaunch, which is something I’ve been working on for next year. Meanwhile the commercial boys, Tom and Rob, have been in and out of meetings with potential new club partners for the forthcoming season.
Promotion would make a massive difference to us in every area and would allow for countless changes and improvements. It would mean our first season in the second flight since 1982. It is what everyone at the club wants but, if it doesn’t happen this year, then we are still looking healthier than we have off the field for a long, long time.
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