Fans View: Romsey Amber

At the recent CFU AGM in the supporters club, Mark Bonner and club CEO Alex Tunbridge both spoke about their hopes for the remainder of the season ahead, on and off the pitch. U’s fan @RomseyAmber was in attendance and wrote in with his thoughts on what was said, and how he sees the season going.

In my work I often used to wonder where all those people who used to send us poorly punctuated letters written in crayon with numerous capital letters and exclamation marks have gone. However it seems I need wonder no more as it appears they now hide in plain sight, although often behind pseudonyms, on the Book of Face and on message boards while failing to adhere to the adage that you should not say or write anything you would not be prepared to say to the face of the person you are talking or writing about.

I write this though after attending the recent CFU AGM where the first part consisted of what I thought was an illuminating Q&A with Mark Bonner, Alex Tunbridge, Jenny Horsfield and Darren Marjoram from the club. It was clear that none of them wanted us to be where we are in the league but were prepared to face the challenge head on with integrity and deal with the consequences. It was also, I felt, a good practical demonstration of the increased level of engagement the club now has with fans and its representative organisations like CFU.

Alex Tunbridge acknowledged if relegated centralised funding would be lower with just a small parachute payment and that the number of away fans at the Abbey would also be lower. There were reassurances a good new kit maker and a main sponsor had been found with it was made clear a crypto or betting sponsor was not considered as it did not reflect the values of the club. A point I think is more than just worthy in the current footballing financial climate where clubs higher up the ladder happily take money from barbaric regimes.

Bonner made it clear he and the players were all too aware of the challenge they faced and although we have never had more professional players, in response to accusations our squad is too small, we have never had so many injuries. He also stated the club itself was ‘never more stable’ and that is important to note.

It would seem though some keyboard warriors were upset Mark Bonner and Alex Tunbridge ‘smiled too much’ at the meeting. Yes, you read that right, but what did they want them to do, fall to their knees in front of us and flagellate themselves while begging for forgiveness? There were some moments of light relief but their responses were detailed and considered and their attitude was far from jovial.

I am as disappointed as anyone to be in the thick of a relegation scrap after the relative success of last season and I understand football can act for many as a proxy for the frustrations in their own life they cannot express or deal with. However, a fellow CFU member has a theory that many of those who are currently so aerated by our current situation started supporting the club around the time we got ourselves together before being promoted from the Conference so have never known our truly dark days and flirtations with extinction.

This is worth bearing in mind when considering a recent piece of work by the Homes of Football which estimated our long-term average position as 88th in the football league, a place above relegation to the National League. Such an analysis would suggest that we are currently we are in a relatively successful position and arguably helps provides some perspective.

For more you only have to look at the recent news concerning that lot up the A1 and the fact the company that owns their ground has gone into receivership in apparent dispute with their Chairman. In contrast we as a club now own our ground in large part thanks to having an owner who is also a genuine fan. Money has also been invested in securing and improving our training facilities to attract players to the club and develop young players providing an advantage on the pitch in the longer term. Plans are in the pipeline as well to finally redevelop the ground starting with the Habbin, then the NRE and Main Stand.

This is possible because we now own the ground again, the long overdue redevelopment will not only allow for the provision of more modern and inclusive facilities for fans but allow for both match and non-match day income to be increased. This is important as we have a small budget in this league, in the bottom four by some accounts so maybe we should not be too surprised by our league position, but while that is still the case we are always going to need everything to align to overachieve.

Considering all this would those that berate the Club and Bonner rather we spent money we did not have on mercenaries and journeymen in an attempt to stave off relegation? It is a strategy that may pay off in the short run but is invariably doomed in the long run as we ourselves have found and helps explain the current purgatory of clubs like Pompey, Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday in League 1. If we are stay in League 1 or are relegated and subsequently promoted again let it be on our own terms with our long-term security guaranteed with a team and Club we can trust and believe in.

The future is bright, the future is Amber.

One thought on “Fans View: Romsey Amber

Add yours

  1. I still think it’s a valid criticism that the club started the season with too small a squad. Injuries impact most squads over the course of a season, so trying to justify the small squad by saying we were unlucky with the number of injuries seems akin to not learning the lesson, which is a concern for whatever level we are at next season. If the same thing happens again, can we justify using the same excuse again?!

    Of course, there is a balance to be struck. We cannot afford a big squad on a limited budget, but I think we were too complacent thinking we did not have to evolve the squad in the summer and players would reach the same levels this season.

    I believe that was a mistake that has been a significant factor in our struggles this season.

    It will be interesting to see what the summer recruitment is like. What, if any, lessons have they learned from this season? With a major squad rebuild likely, regardless of whether they stay up or not, will they allow themselves to have to use injuries as an excuse if they struggle next season also?

    There have been lots of factors that have contributed to this season’s struggles and the harsh truth is that planning, particularly in terms of last summer’s recruitment, has been one of them.


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