Town plan 1,000 community visits

Graham Alexander on a school visit
Graham Alexander on a school visit

Fleetwood Town are hoping to recruit fans for life and build lasting links with grass roots football with a massive expansion of their community operations.

Town are putting together plans to double the number of player visits within a year a triple them in two – hoping to hit a target of 1,000 sessions every year.

The club is currently working with 46 schools on the Fylde coast, players making 363 community appearances last season.

But with the move to their new Poolfoot Farm training ground in Thornton, Fleetwood want to dramatically increase that figure, taking advantage of their new position at the heart of the community.

Technical director Gretar Steinsson is the man driving through the ambitious plans.

He said: “At the moment we have 46 schools we engage with – that’s 1,100 kids.

“Last year we did 363 player appearances.

“That is something now – moving to Poolfoot will make it easier to increase that number.

“We’re setting a goal to double that number in one year, to triple it in two.

“That means we’re hoping to do 1,000 player appearances.

“It’s something that will demand a lot from everybody, from the players and the staff, all the way up to (chairman) Andy Pilley.

“Everybody will have to take part in building the club and building the reputation, letting people know what we’re doing.

“It’s a lot of visits, a lot of fan engagement, but it’s something we have to do.

“We’re the smallest club in the Football League. We have to be visual in the community and be active with what we do.”

Steinsson believes the club should be proud of the work it does already ... but insists it is just the start.

He said:”The school visits we do already are very educating for players and good for players.

“It’s good for them to be involved and see what the community is all about.

“There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that people don’t pay attention to.

“To do 363 visits that are not even in the area and that has taken a lot – the players have done a fantastic job so far.

“But with everything in the same place we’ll be able to have more of a presence than ever before.”

With the huge number of professional clubs in the North West, Fleetwood Town know they are battling to build their fanbase in a crowded market.

Increasing gates and revenues is essential as the club is subject to strict Financial Fair Play rules, limiting wage spend to 60 per cent of turnover.

Steinsson believes the best way to attract people to the club is to form a strong bond with schools an amateur clubs, with Poolfoot the new hub of operations.

“We have to grow,” said the former Iceland international.

“With all the rules and regulations there are, and with how football works, it’s very competitive. We have 16 clubs around us, so the community is a huge factor.

“How far we reach is very important. We want to reach all the way down to grass roots football and link up with all the grass roots clubs in the area.

“We’ll put together plans as to how we can reach out.

“There is a lot of talent in the area and so much to be done.

“It’s like a never ending story at the moment. There’s always something new we need to do.

“But most important is the community.

“The training ground is going to be a central hub for Fleetwood and the area.

“There’s a huge amount of work to do and the Community Trust will have a very important role.”

Town are preparing for their second season in League One, having achieved their highest ever finish in the pyramid next season.

With a change in recruitment strategy and a greater focus on youth development, the next campaign will undoubtedly be a challenge.

But Steinsson is adamant there is no limit on how much further, in the long term, Fleetwood can climb.

“We’re a very open club. Everybody is welcome,” he said. “Our biggest rivalry is with ourselves. How big can we become?

“Nobody expected this to happen 10 years back, not even two years back.

“What we’re trying to achieve has never been done.

“It’s a fantastic challenge but everybody has to be a part of it.

“Everybody has to spread the word and make everyone feel the club is open, ready to share ideas, willing to work with everyone.”