Writing in his programme notes for Saturday's game against Wycombe Wanderers, chairman Phil Wallace has explained how the investment into youth facilities, staff and players is starting to come through as part of the club’s longer term strategic vision for financial stability and survival.
He told us, “Having considered the past 5 years, without an oligarch to spend millions on players and no matter the manager, our philosophy is clear. We had three years in League One and found we couldn’t sustain that level without a huge investment in players. The difference between our average League One gate of 3,000 in our relegation season against a League One average of 7,600 was just too big a financial gap to overcome, so the inevitable happened. Even compared to the average League 2 gate of 4,500 last year it’s not difficult to work out that the income we miss from the 1,500 below the League 2 average is over £500,000 per year.
"We need to match player wages to stay in the League and we address this deficit in part by innovative and relentless drives to push non-football income to new limits. In that respect, we’ve been very successful but there’s only so far you can go. This has been the situation ever since we came into the Football League and so, to remain competitive, in 2012/2013 we started an intensive 7 year investment into youth facilities, staff and players with Darren Sarll given a specific brief to develop top class facilities and recruit a higher standard of player from anywhere in the world. It takes a while for the work we’ve done at that level to come through, but there’s no doubt it’s starting.
"For the first time in our history we’re recruiting and developing a conveyor belt of young talent that’s good enough to play in the Football League. When we did a count up a few weeks ago we had ten internationals between the ages of 16-20 on our books! From the ‘class of 2013-15’ we’ve already seen Ryan Johnson, Ben Kennedy and Dale Gorman - all internationals - emerge. We expect two to three more to come into the reckoning next year and we believe that our ‘class of 2015-17’ has some of the most exciting talent so far.
"Of course youngsters need to learn from experienced pros and getting the balance right does take time. Teddy Sheringham knew it would be a tough job to blood youth, talented youngsters and experience on a limited budget and he’s not been wrong, but we’re confident we’re building a solid base for the future. We hope that our fans will get behind us to get through this first year of developmental change, because there is no longer term alternative to losing hundreds of thousands each year.”
For Phil's full pre-match notes, including his thoughts on last weekend's draw at Exeter, purchase a programme from around the ground on Saturday afternoon for just £3. Tickets for the game with Wycombe remain on sale at 'in advance' prices until 5pm on Friday in the club shop or until 23.59 on Friday online at www.borotickets.co.uk.