As we come to terms with the rapidly changing environment in which we now find ourselves, we are having to get used to so many different ways of doing things, adapting to new demands and responding to the myriad of opportunities which our newly achieved status has presented to us - it all means that so many things are changing in ways we could not have envisaged just twelve months ago.
Older supporters might remember that the club shop was actually started in the early 1970s by Bruce Elliott on behalf of the Supporters' Club. It has always been a popular destination for home and away fans alike but in recent years, like retail outlets everywhere, we have seen a massive increase in online sales as well as an obvious and pressing need for a significantly heightened physical retail presence. In the two weeks since we won promotion we have seen an amazing interest in merchandise from all over the world and expect this to grow over the coming months. We need to be open for business throughout the week, readily accessible and with a wide range of goods.
We have therefore had to advise the Supporters' Club that the full stock control, operational and marketing functions, and therefore overall management of the shop, all need to come under the direct auspices of the club. This will enable us to effectively put in place a full-time management structure, become more responsive, strategic and flexible and take greater advantage of the significant commercial opportunities which promotion to the EFL has opened up. This includes moving the physical shop from inside the stadium to a site within the car-park and being able to provide a full 5-day a week facility as well as on matchdays. These changes will enable the shop to continue to support the Supporters' Club provision of coaches for away travel.
We are of course very grateful to the volunteers from the Supporters' Club who currently run the shop, as well as all their predecessors, for all their hard work over so many years. Thank you all for your support.
New stock, including a wide range of clothing and other SUFC products will be arriving soon. Full details of when the shop will be relocated and open for business will also be announced shortly.
We had a very helpful meeting with the safety and licensing teams from LB of Sutton and the SGSA this week, clarifying the things that need to be done before the start of the season. There is still a lot of hard work still to do but it is all achievable. The live web cam show the progress made to date with the pitch alterations and next week will see the existing turnstile blocks come down. Don't worry, we do have plans for the existing turnstiles and they won't end up in the scrapyard.
Liverpool has its Kop, Old Trafford the Stretford End and Villa Park the Holte End, but Sutton United has its own iconic fans' section - the Shoebox. Until now that is. In its current form the Shoebox cannot be used as spectator accommodation in the Football League and the cost of bringing it up to standard is not viable given the small number of people who could then stand there. One way or another the safety officers require the space to be taken out of use. Given that we have contractors already working in the stadium the most economic time to undertake the work is now, so it is our sad duty to break the news that the Shoebox will be demolished in the next few days. However, as development plans progress we will find a way to ensure that the name lives on.
And finally, don't forget to snap up your Early Bird Season Ticket for the U's historic first season in EFL. Prices go up on 1 July so don't delay!