We can look back on the 2022-23 season knowing that it marked an historic milestone in the history of Altrincham FC. Our first season as a full-time club, successfully concluded, was not without its challenges, but overall we rose to the occasion. Our third season back at National League level had its share of memorable moments but left us all reflecting on what might have been.
Our on-field ambition is clear - to become capable of challenging for the play-offs in the Vanarama National League, with the aim of reaching the Football League. Our strategy to achieve this ambition, now into its second five-year term, has seen two promotions and the establishment of full-time football at the club.
In line with the strategy, we have been successful in growing our revenues and attracting unprecedented levels of investment. Our underlying approach is to use these investment funds to underpin the club whilst we continue to grow our turnover – and, in the last five years, we have seen this turnover more than double, with a growing reputation on and off the pitch. But we cannot stand still; we need to keep moving forward.
Equally, it would be wrong to paint the last 12 months as incident-free or an unparalleled success. We have learned many lessons from last season, during which we were beset by a number of unexpected challenges. Whilst we have more than doubled revenues in the last few years across all domains – season tickets, match day, hospitality, sponsorship, commercial and retail – we have also seen prohibitive rises in utility bills and for stewarding and security costs..
“Since the whistle blew at Aldershot, the board have been fully focused on our strategic aims for next season and beyond, as we map out the future of the club and solidify the business plan for further progression.”
We have seen disruption to the squad as our reputation for developing young talent, permanent or on loan, has led to an unprecedented number of our players move on. We knew our march up the National League would not be simple, but we believe we have proven ourselves more than capable of handling such challenges in the past.
Since the whistle blew at Aldershot, the board have been fully focused on our strategic aims for next season and beyond. We have had regular, lengthy board meetings, as we map out the future of the club and solidify the business plan for further progression. We recognise next season is a critical one for us – we need to build on the progress of recent years in a league that will be wide open, with all 24 clubs believing they can compete.
Whilst we are rightly seen as one of the most progressive footballing sides in the league, we are fully aware our progress off the field has not kept pace. Our ways of working and our facilities in many cases are not fully fit for purpose. The J. Davidson Stadium has regularly hosted crowds at levels not seen for decades, and whilst we have made it work, it would be hard to argue that the matchday experience has been as good as we would like it, especially for the big games.
We know this is a major area of focus, and it will form a significant part of our immediate priorities, developing not only the facilities but also the staff and the processes to deliver. We have a lot of work to do in this area. We welcome the recent announcement of the formation of a Supporters' Association. The Board look forward to engaging, listening and consulting with them and moving the club forward as one.
As we look forward to the 23-24 season, we can take pride in the successful transition to full time and reflect on how close we came to a return to Wembley last season. It is amazing how the communities in and around Altrincham have got behind the football team over the last couple of seasons, and we thank you for your growing support.
We will need you all again next season as we continue our journey. We are not complacent - we are fully aware that it gets harder and harder, even to stand still. But your Board are fully committed to our ambition to return this club to the top of the non-League pyramid and to prepare for the next big step.
Thank you for your support so far, and we look forward to continuing the adventure with you in the 2023-24 season.
Bill Waterson & Lawrence Looney, on behalf of the Altrincham Board of Directors