Commercial Director's programme column
Several fans missed last Saturday's programme and mentioned that they would like to read Craig Morley's programme column. so here it is:
It’s been a whirlwind fortnight since I was appointed Commercial Director of the club, and I would like to thank everyone for making me feel welcome.
As I explained at the DFCSG Annual General Meeting, the whole thing came about from long-serving Darlo fan Arthur Thompson, who suggested to David Johnston that the club should maybe chat to me about a full-time role, and it all started from there.
I found when I spoke to David that the club has some great ideas for the future, and it is something that I would very much like to be a part of, as a long-time Darlo fan. I know what Darlo fans have gone through over the last 30/40 years and shared most of the ups and downs. It is to everyone’s credit that the fans rescued the club, and six years on, have raised over £1 million to bring the club back to the town and build infrastructure. David and I agreed that now is the time to push on to the next stage and ultimately in the long term regain our Football League status.
One of my immediate aims is to improve the matchday experience, and for the club to be more professional towards fans, directors and players.
I have had several productive meetings and chats with rugby club chairman Mike Wilkinson, and we have formed an excellent working relationship. We both want to our clubs to do well, and that can only happen by working together. Mike has been very accommodating and receptive to the ideas that we have put forward, and I am sure Mike will agree with me that communication between the two clubs is key.
I would like to thank Mike for allowing us to carry out certain ideas today, which I believe will improve the matchday experience. I am sure by now that you would have noticed the new signage on the way into Blackwell Meadows, the changes in hospitality and the chat with a former player in the main lounge before the game. Please feel free to engage and ask questions with past and current players.
You will also notice the new enhanced sound system which has been installed in both lounges, again, this has been funded totally by the rugby club. I’m sure you’ll agree that this will enhance the matchday experience.
Another of my aims is to increase the club’s commercial revenue. One thing was immediately clear, that the club needs to build relationships with local businesses as soon as possible. I have been very busy talking to local companies about match sponsorships; a warm welcome to today’s match sponsor, Recruitrite, a local-based recruitment firm, while Orca Cleaning Services and Smart Pads will be joint match sponsors for the Boxing Day game against York City.
You will have noticed from the club website that Darlington Building Society, In Charge Electrical, Orca Cleaning Services, Smart Pads and Fresh Utilities have all agreed to place advert boards around the pitch at Blackwell Meadows, and I am in talks with several more, not just about placing advert boards and taking up match sponsorships, but also creating a concrete base to utilise the hospitaIity available to us on matchdays at Blackwell Meadows. It would be lovely to sell every ad space around the pitch, creating an ongoing monthly income for the club upon renewal. I would like to thank Dave Robinson at Screentech for all his hard work over the last week as I’ve been very demanding on David to produce in excess of 55 metres of pitch-facing advertising along with ten new signs that identify that this is our home on matchdays. Also, Lyndsay Wind at Design Print for all her help with the designs of the signage for our new club shop, again the timescales given were very tight, but once again this was achieved.
I can now confirm that Darlington FC will hold a golf day at Rockliffe Golf Club in May 2019. Mike and I are looking at ways of utilising Blackwell Meadows for holding major events.
Collectively we have many ideas which we believe can be fruitful financially for both clubs, and we have plenty of people to talk to over the next few weeks.
It’s going to be a very busy time, but we hope, with your support, that we can achieve plenty for both clubs.
I will be very happy to chat to fans, either in person at a match, at a fans’ forum or on e mail. I intend to come to every home and away game, so by all means come and talk to me. I had a good chat with some at the Race Night which the DFCSG and Rob Duncan organised so well, and I was at Leamington last Saturday, when I managed to see the last 30 minutes of the game from my seat. On my return after half time refreshments, I engaged with the fans for over 15 minutes, taking on board their valid points. Rest assured this will be something I’ll be looking into in the very near future.
Enjoy the game, and please get behind Tommy and Alan, they do appreciate your support.