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Happy New Year, Decade. Welcome Back

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. The festive season will no doubt have assured us of that as our teams have played pretty much every 2/3 days since before Christmas.

Today marks my 11th anniversary as a Director and 10th anniversary as the Company Secretary of the FSOA. I am now, by some way the longest-ever-standing individual performing these roles.

In all of that time, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be involved with an Association that week-in, week-out delivers a quality product in ensuring that millions of people can enjoy watching their favourite teams play football in a safe environment. It has also been a pleasure to be a vital part of a team that, along with the sterling efforts of John Newsham, has progressed the FSOA to a similarly safe environment, where, thanks to our Sponsors and Corporate Partners, we can enjoy relative financial safety and have a platform for releasing our long-held vision of providing support for young people at the grassroots end of the game.

2019 saw us dip our toes in the water and 2020 should see new levels of support for the grassroots game, which in turn should provide new levels of publicity for our supporting Sponsors and Corporate Partners.

When I took over these roles, as most of you know, the finances were fragile, the business cycle close to maturity and a new sense of direction was badly needed. John Newsham brought the new direction and coupled with diligent and prudent financial management, the decade in between has placed us on a sounder footing. We now enjoy top-quality conferences with top-class entertainment which present us with continual updates in terms of matters which are vital to our work and also the opportunities for continual professional development (CPD). Our Sponsors and Corporate Partners, especially those exhibiting at our conferences have pretty much without exception found growth for their products within the football and event industry, some of them actually cross-fertilising.This has helped us achieve what Andy Ashworth first called “The FSOA Community” and this is something else that we wish to continue to develop.

As my role within the FSOA widens, I will be looking to re-shape the Association financially to make us more tax-efficient and therefore able to provide grassroots football with a much-needed boost. Watch this space.

In addition, we will be looking to re-design our administration processes and also examine ways in which our esteemed, experienced Safety Officers can assist with the education and CPD processes of less-experienced Safety Officers. John Rutherford has already identified one or two areas where he and we can make a difference. With that in mind, we are looking to create one or two roles for FSOA Ambassadors, who can help with those processes.

So 2020 will not be a year for resting on our laurels. The FSOA will be looking to advance its activities and gain more recognition for what it does. Although John has threatened to retire fully, at present I still have him on a bit of a leash and “doing time” in the office. I think he’s finding, like all of us who have had and continue to have the privilege of involvement in the FSOA, trying to retire from this exceptional Association is not easy. If we can keep him for just one day a week, or two, or three it will be a bonus to our operations.

Have a successful, prosperous and safe 2020.


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