By Andrew Brown
Southport FC has been a busy place this week, as the club puts in a huge amount of work ahead of what promises to be an exciting new football season.
The 2021/2022 National League North football campaign may be over with the players enjoying their well-deserved summer holidays, but behind the scenes there is lots happening to give the Sandgrounders every advantage they need for next year.
Ground staff have been working hard, relaying the pitch, with tonnes of sand and a new grass playing surface ready for when the first ball is kicked – which won’t be too long away now.
Southport FC has just released the dates for its pre-season fixtures, with some mouth-watering games for spectators to enjoy.
Sides coming to face Liam Watson’s entertaining side at Haig Avenue this summer include Everton, Blackpool, Tranmere Rovers, Marine and Bolton Wanderers, with away fixtures lined up against Lancaster City and Bootle.
The games will give Liam Watson’s side the perfect preparation as they get ready for what will hopefully be another promotion push, with the club building on a nucleus of young, talented and ambitious players.
The club are still rebuilding from the traumatic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic but after two years of disruption, some form of stability is gradually returning, thanks to a huge amount of hard work behind the scenes.
Southport FC is looking forward to welcoming back fans for the new season after deciding to freeze its adult matchday prices for the twelfth successive season.
Season tickets for Haig Avenue are on sale online later in May with season ticket holders and members able to enjoy free admission to all home pre-season friendlies, with the club having worked hard to try and provide additional benefits for fans this coming season.
Southport FC Head of Commercial and Operations Steve Dewsnip had a real baptism of fire when he arrived at the club just 10 days before the start of last season. But now with a year under his belt, he is loving the challenge.
He is looking forward to working with fans and local businesses as he looks to build excitement ahead of the start of the new season.
Southport finished 11th last time out, six points off the play-off places, spending several weeks in the top seven before falling away towards the end – although they did end the season with a resounding 5-0 away win against Bradford Park Avenue.
Steve Dewsnip said: “Southport Football Club is a hive of activity at the moment!
“There is so much going on to get the club ready for the new season.
“Since the last home game of the season on 2nd May, we have hosted three local cup finals for the Southport and District Football League.
“Since then, the pitch surface has been taken up. A lot of sand slitting has since taken place.
“Nearly 150 tonnes of sand has been used on the pitch to improve drainage, followed by a process of reseeding.
“The players are now on their summer holidays. They will come back into training in the last week of June.
“Then we have a busy, but very exciting pre-season schedule that we have just announced with the likes of Everton, Blackpool, Tranmere Rovers, Marine and Bolton Wanderers all coming to play in front of fans at Haig Avenue. We are also playing two away fixtures against Bootle and Lancaster City, ahead of the National league North season starting in the first week in August.”
There were lots of encouraging signs from Southport FC last season. They are in a difficult league, with some big clubs with big budgets, and competition tough. But planning is taking place to improve on Southport FC’s last season finish of 11th.
Steve Dewsnip said: “We are looking forward to the new season with lots of optimism!
“Last season was a challenging one, being our first full season since the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was great to be able to welcome our fans back into the ground again.
“There was a great atmosphere at games last season and we are looking forward to building on that this season.”
Southport FC is already supported by a number of local and regional businesses, with a range of opportunities available from matchday sponsorships, to board sponsorships, to a naming rights partner for the ground.
Steve Dewsnip said: “Off the field, commercially, we have some great opportunities for even more businesses to get involved.
“Whether that is as an advertising board sponsor, or a stand sponsor, a matchday sponsor, or anything else, we would love to have that conversation with people.
“We are still looking for a naming rights partner for our stadium.
“We have had some interest, and some discussions have taken place, but nothing yet has been finalised.
“Last season, we were very pleased with the hospitality offering we were able to provide on matchdays, which proved to be very popular among firms.
“Most fixtures in the second half of the season were sold out. We will be offering the same levels of hospitality again this season.
“Another exciting development at the club is the launch of the new Southport FC Academy at CTK6, with our partnership with Christ The King High School and Sixth Form Centre.
“The first intake of boys in the Academy will take place this September.
“We will be entering our Academy side into the FA Youth Cup, which will be a great experience for the players.
“At the club, our Junior teams have had a great year, and are expanding all the time with more teams coming on stream in different age groups. A couple of weeks ago we ran a successful junior tournament at Haig Avenue for five of the age groups. We are looking forward to them building on that further this year.”
Another area of growth is the club’s excellent function facilities, which are proving to be increasingly popular.
Steve said: “Our events business continues to go from strength to strength, with regular bookings for weddings, engagement parties, birthday parties, funeral wakes, children’s parties and other events continuing to keep us busy during the summer months and beyond.”
So what are Southport FC’s targets as the new season approaches?
Steve said: “As a club, we want to continue growing.
“We want to be able to deliver the best possible league position that we can.
“We would be disappointed if we were not competing for the play-off positions again.
“As always, it will be challenging. The size of the division is increasing to 24 teams. It will be a long season, with 46 games plus cup ties.”
Among those getting the club ready for the new season are the long-standing volunteers who do so much behind the scenes, not just on matchdays, but also throughout the year.
If anyone else would like to lend their time and expertise to the club, they would be given a very warm welcome.
Steve said: “We have an amazing band of volunteers who have been very loyal to us over many years.
“Without our volunteers, the club would simply struggle to operate.
“We appreciate every single one of them.
“There are always opportunities for more people to get involved.
“If anyone is interested, they can find more details on our southportfc.net website.
“There are opportunities for people to join us both during match days, and also during the week.”
It is a club with big ambitions that is keen to secure an exciting future.
Steve said: “The club is growing, the club is expanding. We are looking to by no means stand still.
“As anyone can see from the work taking place at the moment, there is a huge amount going on at Haig Avenue.
“We are in the middle of May, but we are already talking about our next game being just six weeks away.
“It has been great to have our fans back in the stands last season. We had a great atmosphere in the ground and enjoyed some very exciting times on the pitch. Who can possibly forget Marcus Carver’s overhead kick which won goal of the season?
“We can’t wait to be sharing similarly exciting experiences with our fantastic fans again this season.”
Southport FC has recently announced its membership, season ticket and admission prices for season 2022/23.
Adult matchday admission prices have been frozen for the twelfth consecutive year and, although there will be two additional teams in our division next season, season tickets have still been priced to provide five ‘free’ home league games, offering great value for money.
Memberships, which offer the opportunity to spread the cost over the course of the season, provide even greater value for money with over £80 of additional benefits now included as well as a season ticket with access to both the Main Stand and home terraces.
Ticket holders and members will once again enjoy free access to each of the club’s home pre-season friendlies.
Season Tickets and Memberships go on sale online from Monday May 30th.
- For more details, visit: southportfc.net
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