FANS' ZONE 26/11/2020
FOLLOW THE TORQUAY WAY TO A NEW STADIUM AS THE YELLOW ARMY AWAIT NEWS OF A RETURN TO PLAINMOOR
When Clarke Osborne, whose fourth anniversary in charge falls next month, took over ownership of an ailing Torquay United, he set out his vision for the club which involved setting up a five year plan to include appointing local directors and a new stadium complex somewhere in the Bay.
It was good, then, to learn from local director Mel Hayman that the club’s plans are on course despite Covid.
Speaking at a recent Torbay Breakfast Bytes meeting on the Torbay Business Forum, Hayman, in a passionate promotion of the club, confirmed that the five year plan does still include a new stadium. The immediate goal is to put both the club and the English Riviera back into the EFL.
She went on to explain how the club wants to work not just with the local community but the whole of Torbay - ‘The Torquay Way’ - with Osborne still willing to invest millions.
Nobody can fail to see the professional way in which CEO George Edwards runs the club as Hayman explained, from Gary Johnson, his playing squad, and the innovative new shirts as shining examples, these had over 89,000 ‘likes’ on Sky Sports Instagram.
With the team top of the table these are heady exciting times and, as Hayman stressed, the club’s long term vision is to build a sustainable new stadium for the benefit of the Torbay community.
The light at the end of the tunnel football fans have been waiting for is in sight! For when lockdown ends next week supporters are to be allowed back into stadiums.
With Devon in tier 2 we know the maximum allowed but how many will actually be allowed into Plainmoor? We await news from the club to find out but it looks like there will be supporters inside the ground on December 5 for the visit of Wrexham. We should, though, accept there will be many who’ll prefer not to mix with others and so will the live streaming continue?
One of the major aspects of the pandemic has been the growing clamour for football to look at itself to have a reset. With the FA needing to appoint a new chairman this seems the perfect time for the football authorities to have a root and branch re-evaluation. However, football leaders are reluctant to do this.
As a result, over recent months there have been campaigns, such as ‘LetFansIn’ and ‘Sustain The Game’, to try to push for reforms but without anything changing. The DCMS committee is now becoming exasperated at the Premier League and FA’s intransigence, so much so that on Wednesday there was yet another meeting of MPs to press, as a matter of urgency, for the launching of the government’s fan led and independent review of the governance of football in the country which now looks like taking place.
Last week the government announced further funding of £28m for non-league and women’s football, of which £11m is to be shared between the three National League divisions. There does, though, appear to be a difference between this new money - a loan - and the previous £10m which was a grant.
This time maybe the NL board will have a different allocation policy from the current model which has caused much controversy as there are still questions to be answered: what was the criteria for the payments and who will actually sit on the ‘independent’ committee the NL has set up?
But with fans about to be able to return to grounds perhaps this new money will be allocated in different ways.
What was not to like about United’s fourth consecutive win on the road at Halifax on Saturday? The 2-1 victory underlined, yet again, the man management skills of Gary Johnson and how this group of players have bought into it. What is impressive is when one player drops out, for whatever reason, be it injury or suspension, there’s a quality replacement available.
The Gulls came home with three points despite Danny Wright’s penalty miss - if you’re going to miss a penalty then blazing it over the bar is the spectacular way to do it!
The match streaming figures are impressive for, at its height, there were 1300 watching. Director Mel Hayman has revealed that United’s streaming has been watched in Japan, Australia, Iraq, USA and Brazil - pretty good coverage!
***************** In recent weeks this column has reported on many managers wanting a re-introduction of the five substitutes rule and last weekend the EFL agreed but no signs the National League will follow.
It’s that time of the year for buying Christmas presents and who doesn’t like a jigsaw puzzle? So what about a Torquay United one? Currently advertising in the weekend magazines is a national company selling 123 clubs ranging from Premier League (England & Scotland) down to League 2 and surprisingly a number of non-league teams including Barnet, Chesterfield, Hereford, Macclesfield, Maidstone and FC United of Manchester but no Torquay United; maybe an opening for the club shop.
Last week’s vote was for your Goal of the Season so far. Thanks for your contributions with the most popular being Adam Randell’s strike at Bromley which came at a crucial time in the game turning the Gulls’ fortunes around paving the way for that late winner.
This week it’s back to the popular ‘Three Word Fun’, send the three words which sum up the Gulls being top of the table to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To all the Yellow Army stay safe.