The first Preston North End fans forum of the season took place last night, and here are 12 talking points from the questions asked; from the training ground, fanzone, potential player sales and season tickets, it’s all covered.
The new training ground is still a while off
Not the news North End fans would have wanted to hear, by the admittance of John Kay, but the new Ingol training ground has had very little progress since the last fans forum.
In the last forum, we were told that the ownership had been moved to the club, to the tune of £1.5m in securing the land for the football club.
The club are waiting on money generated by the property development in the area – which the club again thanked fans for their part in – which is yet to bear fruit, and would still then need profit.
‘Two builders have proposals in front of the planning office’ and those would need to start before any flow of cash may begin.
It will be ‘some time’ before a start is made on the development of the new training ground, especially given the time it has taken to reach this point.
Springfields to get some attention
Due to the waiting that is currently ongoing with the new training ground, attentions will turn to Springfields, PNE’s current training ground.
In the summer £250,000 was spent upgrading one of the pitches and more planning is in place to invest more in the current training ground to do the job until the move to Ingol could take place.
There will be ‘substantial’ improvements at PNE’s current base, with a view to eventually moving the academy in once the Ingol training ground is completed.
Fanzone to be in The Sir Tom Finney Stand
There has not been much change in the situation of the Fanzone, but we did get an insight into the current plans of the attraction.
PNE are currently trying to regain access to the ground floor of the Sir Tom Finney stand which is leased to the National Football Museum. The idea would then be to develop a fanzone into that space, which at the moment is unavailable.
Key players are not for sale
Advisor to the owner Peter Ridsdale made it rather unequivocally clear: PNE have no intention of selling their key players.
It was noted that there are notable players with 18 months left on their deal that the club want to keep, but Ridsdale affirmed that North End are under no pressure to sell any players that the manager wants to keep.
Preston will certainly not be ‘entertaining any offers’ for players in January.
Half season tickets are selling very well
With the current campaign to sell season tickets, a promotion on and them being launched slightly earlier this year, we also have some figures.
In past seasons, 60-90 half season tickets were sold – so far this month there have been around 300 sales. That is a staggering improvement but the club is also expecting significantly more sold as well.
TV Money a pretty penny
The way TV money is distributed this season has changed, last year clubs would get £100,000 if they played at home and just £10,000 if away. This season, it is a sum of £75,000 whether at home or away.
North End do budget with appearing on TV in mind, but they did not expect to be on as many times as they will have by the end of December, six in all.
Although, due to the good form, which led to the increased interest, exposure and TV slots, it has also led to paying out some win bonuses to the squad.
So swings and roundabouts a bit on the TV money, but better than expected and a different rate to last season.
Loan moves are seen as a better alternative to U23s team
It was clearly outlined in the fans forum that there are no current plans for PNE to have an under 23s team.
The club see that loaning players out is more beneficial and they used Ben Davies as an example, with which it is hard to argue. They would rather money spent on first team players and those that can affect the first team, than having to carry younger players as they grow into that role.
Adam O’Reilly and Jack Baxter were both singled out as players that the club want to get loan moves for, whilst Josh Earl and Jack Armer’s performances are not going unnoticed.
Patrick Bauer exceeding expectations
An interesting insight into the transfer of Patrick Bauer was given at the fans forum. Ridsdale and Alex Neil both regularly receive notice of players through agents, and both received word of Bauer in the same week.
A scout was sent to watch him and they saw him as good business on a free. He fit the mould and added a bit more experience.
Neil did admit though that he didn’t expect Bauer to have hit the ground running quite to the extent that he has and he was also full of praise for the partnership struck up with Ben Davies.
Life after Gally
Despite currently resembling a fine wine, there was a question asked about the inevitable retirement of Paul Gallagher. Nothing said on the prospect of Gallagher’s retirement was said as fact, simply, neither Ridsdale or Neil have spoken to him about the topic and to essentially speculate would have been inappropriate.
He is currently coaching PNE’s U16s and has been doing his coaching badges, so is looking into that side of the game post-playing. Ridsdale also said that as such a great servant to the club, he is someone they would like to keep around and find a role for, but it is not something that has yet been mentioned.
Jonathan Gould having an impact but all areas doing well
With North End’s goalkeeper’s being a talking point for some time, it was always going to come up. Jonathan Gould was brought in not too long ago and Neil said that he has brought a calming, experienced influence.
Neil was complimentary on the way he has brought the goalkeepers on but also Jack Cudworth, who was originally academy goalkeeper coach but had been coaching the first team since the departure of Dean Kiely.
Neil was also quick to point out that he felt the criticism of Declan Rudd was harsh and that PNE near the top of the league because of team performances and that he was included in those. That also included all departments of his coaching staff.
One more year of Nuge
Finishing strong. This was not originally publicly disclosed, but David Nugent’s contract is a two-year-deal. So that means PNE fans will see him back in the no.35 shirt next season as well.