Following my e-mail to all season-ticket holders, 1901 Club members, and other supporters of the club on 20 May, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you.
The last few weeks have shown us that interest in our club is at an unprecedented level, not just in this country but in many others around the world. We are (rightly) being recognised as a big football club with a rapidly growing and very largely positive profile and reputation, on and off the field. And, with a world-class stadium now reaching capacity levels, the opening of a top training and academy facility just a year away, record season ticket sales for next season (in excess of 23,000), our new hospitality areas all but sold out, and the backing of a new global sponsor, American Express, on our shirts starting next season, our reputation and knowledge of our club is set to grow further as we are now being invited to present our story to other professional clubs and different sports at industry conferences and events all over the world.
Our transformation and transition has been rapid in recent years. Our supporters, old and new, have been a massive and important part of that growth and change. The club continues to learn, to improve, and to adapt to a very different world to the one left behind at Withdean. As such, significant change has been – and continues to be – necessary in many areas of the club. But it's very clear the Albion is well positioned to compete, on and off the field, and we have much to look forward to. I do, however, of course appreciate that the issues we have had to face in recent weeks have created some uncertainty and concern for some of our supporters.
Unfortunately, this is something we must all live with for the time being as our priority will always be to ensure that we continue to manage the variety of situations that can develop within the football club with as much confidentiality, professionalism, and dignity as possible for everyone concerned.
In the interests of keeping you informed as best we can, we have concluded our investigation in to the incident in the visitors' dressing room ahead of the play-off match with Crystal Palace. This issue generated very negative press coverage, inconvenience to our visitors for which we have apologised, as well as speculation and rumour, much of it exaggerated or untrue. To be clear, the incident was confined to the floor and to the paper dispenser area of one cubicle in the visitors' dressing room toilets. No 'messages' were scrawled on the floor or anywhere else. And it remains a slight possibility that this was not a deliberate act of vandalism as attempts had been made to clean up the area before the issue was brought to our attention. Numerous club employees and contractors need access to the tunnel area of our stadium to do their jobs. There is no evidence that a member of the club's staff was responsible. Equally, we cannot be sure who was. Unfortunately, we are very unlikely to know exactly what happened, but access and security to the tunnel area have been reviewed and some changes will be implemented next season. It is now time to move on.
The club's internal processes involving Gus Poyet, Mauricio Taricco, and Charlie Oatway continue. We are conducting these matters reasonably, in light of all the circumstances. These processes will take as long as is necessary and, as I have explained previously, the club will not be making any public comment on the matter until we are in a position to do so. We are aware of some ill-informed and unfounded speculation appearing in various places. It is both unfair and unhelpful to everyone concerned. It should stop immediately to allow the internal processes to continue fairly and then conclude appropriately.
In the meantime, please rest assured that the football club continues to function entirely as normal for the time of year. In some cases, staff from all areas of the club are taking well-earned breaks and holidays, while others continue to sell season tickets, apply finishing touches to a new club membership scheme, meet our post-season sponsor commitments, and finalise plans for our pre-season (as is also normal, we started this work well before the end of last season). Our summer training camp will be in Spain (details to follow soon). And, as is customary, we will be playing a combination of friendly matches away from home against local teams, and also expect to play a home friendly at the Amex on the weekend of 27 July. We will confirm our full schedule for pre-season as soon as possible. Over the course of the summer, we plan to announce a series of new sponsorships, while finalising long-term deals for our stadium catering services and technical partner/kit manufacturer. Finally, with Financial Fair Play rules in mind, we must continue to look for ways of reducing our operational cost base to ensure our club is as efficient as possible and to maximise our football budget for the season ahead.
Thank you for your continued patience, support, and loyalty. It is very much appreciated by everyone here.