The Gills boss answers a few questions as clubs await a decision as to when the new season can begin.
Q1. Gaffer, are we any closer to having a date for the new season?
A1. As I said last week we are working to an EFL League start of Saturday 12th September with perhaps the Carabao Cup the Saturday before. This should all become official when the respective Premier League and EFL boards meet this week.
A2. In terms of infrastructure and procedures we are ready now. I have already put in place a programme of pre-season matches and our daily fitness and football plans are already itemised.
What we are clearly short of is players. We only have seven players signed who will play a part next season with two others available to move on, so there is a huge amount of work to be done.
Q3. Can you update the supporters where you are in putting the squad for the new season together?
A3. Yes of course. We have never hidden that we cannot sign players with no confirmed start date for the new season formally confirmed, it simply puts the football club at risk.
There is also the question about crowds because it makes a huge difference to what we can actually spend on players’ wages. Further, we need to know if there is any financial support package coming to help all the EFL clubs.
The good news is that I’ve put a lot of work into meeting with players, agents and other football clubs so we can move forward quickly with new players when the Chairman gives me the instruction to proceed.
We should have the dates confirmed this week and then we can all get back to work. It has been the most frustrating of times, unprecedented and unwanted, but we now need to deal with what is the here and now.
Let me be clear, I know the players I want and my meetings will continue this week.
Q4. You stated that you believe League 1 will be tougher next season?
A4. Yes I did. First, may I congratulate Wycombe Wanderers on their promotion. I have spoken to Gareth [Ainsworth - Manager of Wycombe] personally and he deserves enormous credit.
League 1 will be tougher given the quality of teams fighting it out on a weekly basis.
You immediately look at the giants in Sunderland, Ipswich Town and Portsmouth, then you have the likes of Fleetwood, Oxford United and Peterborough United who are all financially well supported but you certainly cannot exclude the three teams who will come down from The Championship, each of them will expect to go straight back up.
For us to finish in the top group with arguably the lowest resources in League 1 to build a team will take some achievement, but we finished 10th last season with the same difficulty. Recruitment and coaching is key for us in our ambitious plans but I really believe we can do it and break into the elite group.
Q5. Will you be taking the players away for a pre season training camp?
A5. Yes, that is part of our plan. It will, in the main, be a new group so it’s essential.
We are costing and evaluating two possibilities, one in France and one here in England. There will be so much on field work to be done with the lads and of course they will all get to know each other off the pitch too.
Q6. You have been praiseworthy of the volunteers attending Priestfield to help get the stadium for the new season fit for purpose?
A6. Yes I have and rightfully so. The volunteers, in the main, supporters, have been outstanding.
The stadium looks in tremendous shape and the ship is almost ready to sail is my Chairman’s expression.
We cannot thank those volunteers enough, incredible actions from incredible people who just love this football club.
Hopefully this week the dates to start next season are confirmed then we can get ready. The great news is that hopefully supporters will be back in the stadiums in the near future.... football without them is not the same, this beautiful game belongs to them.