A message from Majority Owner, Paul Barry...
I want to start by saying thank you to everyone for your continued support at home and away this season. It has been great to see such strong attendances and the support is massively appreciated by everyone and makes a very real difference to Neil and the team.
Tuesday was obviously disappointing, but the circumstances were unique and the right decision was made, as everyone from Bolton I spoke to after the ‘game’ completely recognised. It wasn’t even raining when I arrived at the ground in the early evening!
As we are just past the halfway point of the season, I thought it timely to update you all on a few matters.
Firstly - infrastructure improvements. It is great that the new £3.5m training ground building is now in full use and to see the difference it is making to the day-to-day working environment for players and staff. There is some further landscaping work to do around the building over the coming year, but the main works are all complete and it has been a fantastic team effort.
Attention is now fully focused on the stadium and the redevelopment plans for the NRE and Habbin, alongside the new Supporters’ Club. I recognise that we had hoped to present plans to you all in the early New Year, but have decided to take a little more time to have informal conversations around planning with partners, as well as to gain a better understanding of how a redeveloped Cledara Abbey Stadium can best address the future needs of East Cambs, and dovetail with some of the other proposed redevelopments around us.
We hope to say more by the end of the season but please don’t confuse silence with inactivity. We have learnt from the training ground that investing time in relationships and potential partnerships at this stage pays dividends in the future. Understanding all the different funding requirements is also absolutely key.
I would also like to put on record my personal thanks to Cledara for their sponsorship of the Cledara Abbey Stadium for the next five years. They are very committed and engaged partners who are a great fit for the Club. They also share our values, so we are very pleased to have them as part of the United family.
Strong partnerships are integral to a successful future for Cambridge United and it is very good to see how we are building ever stronger relationships across the City, across many different networks at a critical time in its development. The strategic partnership with the University is still in its infancy but already we can both see areas of mutual benefit. It was a pleasure to host the Vice Chancellor and her family at a match last month and we will be hosting several current and prospective student groups over the next few weeks.
We will be filing the accounts for last season in the next few days at Companies House. They will show a loss of £1.7m which has been met through owner equity investment, and I am grateful to Mark and Adam for emotional, business and financial support as ever.
There was obviously a significant investment made last January to strengthen the squad for the second half of last season - which in turn helped secure our League One status - as well as funding for improvements to the infrastructure of the stadium to enhance the matchday experience.
As Owners and Board, we are under no illusion about the competitive nature of both League One and League Two, on-and-off the pitch, and the ever-increasing financial pressures that come with that. Our commitment to you is that we will continue to invest in a way that hopefully ensures and consolidates the Club’s sustainable growth for the future.
To that end, we will be restarting the consultation process fans on potentially changing the crest in the coming months and are grateful to North for their ongoing pro bono work. We are more convinced than ever of the importance of this and ensuring that we can modernise our brand, taking advantage of our proud history as the professional football club from the City where the rules of football were ‘discovered’. Change is never easy, but we do believe that it can help unlock new revenue that can then be reinvested back into the team.
Last - and most importantly - I am very pleased to announce that alongside continuing as a Board Member and the Club’s Supporter Liaison Officer, Dave Matthews-Jones has been made Life President of Cambridge United by the Owners and Board, in recognition of the extraordinary contribution he has made to the Club over many decades.
We are all hugely grateful for everything Dave has done and continues to do. He is a beacon of decency, hard work and selfless contribution to the wider cause, and we believe that this honorary title is appropriate acknowledgement for all his great work for Cambridge United.
I hope to see as many of you as possible at the Abbey tomorrow. Let’s get behind Neil and the boys and keep this run going.