As we approach that time of the year where it is almost mandatory to reflect on the events of the previous 12 months, and whilst issuing seasonal greetings, I thought that this may be an opportune moment to clarify a few points and let you know my take on where we are as a club.
As I write this message we have amassed 30 points from 22 games and sit mid table in League One having just beaten Colchester United.
I must admit that I am a little disappointed in the number of supporters at Saturday's game but I refuse to let it influence my enthusiasm, passion and commitment for the club that I love.
The quality of the support that we have is second to none and to be honest we have been low in numbers for decades, this is not something new. I would therefore like to focus on the positives of the club.
When I took on the role of Chairman just over nine years ago I was aware of the task at hand, and it is my job, and that of the Board of Directors, to primarily keep the club in the league and then develop the club as far as practicably possible whilst working within very tight fiscal constraints bought on by low gates.
To do this we have developed a business model that allows us to succeed by developing young players. It is a policy that took time to develop but has reaped rewards for the club which far outweigh that of an average gate of say 5,000 a game. It is a strategy that many other clubs at our level would love to copy, but few can. This model only works when everyone at the club buys in to it.
It is a strategy that Keith has embraced and actively promotes and develops. We have an excellent Academy under the watchful eye of Tony Ellis which continues to produce a crop of fine young talent, and is essential for the plan to work. I would like to thank Keith, Tony and Beechy, and all of the playing and back room staff, too many to mention individually, for their continued commitment to the club and the implementation of this policy.
Off the field I can report that the club is currently financially sound. During the year, as you may be aware, the club acquired the Ratcliffe Arms public house and is very close to completing the purchase of the stadium after three years of negotiations with the local authority, the RFL and Rochdale Hornets.
The deal will not only secure our future and allow us to develop the club further, but it will also give a secure and economic tenure for Rochdale Hornets which I firmly believe is in the interest of everyone in the town.
Rochdale is a unique club. There are few, if any, professional clubs throughout the land that can display the ‘Team Rochdale’ attitude that unites players, management, staff and supporters in such a manner. So when you look at the Sunday papers, as I do, and see bigger attendances at Grimsby Town, Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and the like, just remember the size of the support is not so nearly as important as the quality and commitment - together we are massive. Together we are one.
I can assure you that I and my fellow directors will work tirelessly to continue to provide you with a team to be proud of.
May I wish you all a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year and thank you for your continued support and loyalty to the club.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be your Chairman.