Bobby Childs has been the club’s physio since the arrival of Paul Doswell and has taken on more responsibilities as the years have passed. This summer he became the club’s business development manager and I caught up with him ahead of the first pre-season games.
I became the business development manager in May and had been doing bits before that. The main role is to build relationships. We courted ground-sharers (AFC Wimbledon and Sutton Common Rovers), set up licences, made sure we get paid and I manage the diary.
The diary is now key as it means scheduling the training of the club’s teams – all of them, from first team to our juniors – and organising the lettings like the Soccer 6s on Sundays.
Day-to-day, I have been ensuring the builders are doing their duties, meeting deadlines and on an ongoing basis I am trying to raise extra income from the ground, including letting untapped areas such as the compound (and having to clear away years of disused machinery).
We also strive to bring in sponsors and Dos secured another great deal with S&C Slatter (the pitch installers) to use our ground as a showroom for other clubs considering investing in 3G technology.
We have added the cabins – the blue boxes seen on Twitter photos – and the ground floor will house a gym and rehab centre as we work with Powerhouse Gym, while the upstairs will serve as an officer for me and Paul. It will also have an area to host a fans’ match day experience where they will watch BT Sport pre-game, have a meal and then move into the stand to watch the Sutton game. All of this is being supported by advertisers which you will see including the new more “homely” appearance.
We are looking at every aspect of the ground to help bring in revenue to support the club. This includes working with Wendy and Andrew Laver of All-Time Catering for the provision of a regular mobile unit on the site.
I have looked to support and build on the work that Adrian Barry has done in the community with Sutton Tennis and Cheam Sports for season ticket offers. I’ve visited Carshalton Boys School to offer them tickets too. I am full-time in this role so I can fill in the gaps that volunteers can’t fulfil.
All of this should boost income as we look to pay off the loan and interest and increase the revenue of the club.
AND THE PITCH ITSELF
For me, I love grass but other than Bognor (no idea how they keep their pitch so good) we know that the weather takes its toll. We have played great football from the summer to October but once the clay pitch started to deteriorate, it became a battle. We also found there was a slight slope on the pitch.
Now we have great drainage so we won’t have games called off through the rain which really hits the club financially. And most importantly we can all use it regularly rather than train elsewhere to protect it. That means the whole club can use the pitch – a massive step forward.
Sutton has always tried to break even and been managed frugally within budgets and within our means. Providing extra income means we can improve the infrastructure, repair buildings and build the playing side too.
Essentially we cannot afford the super blend of grass and synthetic that Milan and Arsenal have, but we do have the best 3G available. It’s got a granular (stone) base with rubber shock padding (made of ground down tyres) which provides the dynamic stability and topped off with high quality carpet. It is the best way for a club like us to realistically develop.
The older players may know older AstroTurf pitches that they have trained on and found it unforgiving. This will be more forgiving and provide a much more consistent surface. Though to be honest, the players are too busy moaning about running for pre-season fitness to worry about the pitch yet. (The players were scheduled to train on it for the first time after this interview). Best of all, we won’t have games called off and the bounce will be consistent. Every player will enjoy that.
HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
I’m really excited. This opportunity to work full-time in football is incredible. My job as a sports-therapist meant I may miss training so now I pinch myself at being able to do what I love. I have a real positivity and am free to manage the role and develop it in my own way (within reason) – which is really refreshing.
I can’t wait for the ground to be open. I want to see people coming in and enjoying what we have to offer. Finding these facilities is hard so to get people in, support the juniors – and help them raise funds through hosting tournaments is all for the betterment of the whole club.
THE PLAYING SQUAD
We have a really good balance of squad now with plenty of experience and competition for places. We didn’t manage that last year, especially with the injuries and in the past we’ve been left scratching our heads as some players haven’t progressed as we’d have expected and some have gone on to play at a higher level despite not showing it for us. Now we have a great blend and with the work rate, addition of wingers, a strong set of players in each position – I think we are much stronger.
INTERVIEW BY LYALL REYNOLDS (EDITOR@SUTTONUNITED.NET)