At clubs up and down the country, preseason excitement often centres on new signings. Fuelled by those ‘in the know’ on social media, fans latch on to wild speculation with a frenzy, convinced by the fact that players share the same barber or were spotted at the local Asda mean that an announcement of the next arrival is imminent.
So desperate are we for news that fans are willing to use amateur sleuthing skills (no doubt honed from a diet of Netflix crime dramas in the post season) to correctly identify the blurry profile of a potential trialist in the background of a training video based solely on his haircut and tattoos.
I love every minute of it. But gone are the days where Notts’ transfer business was so transparent. Much of Notts’ recruitment has already been completed and, aside from the recruitment of McGoldrick, only appeared on fans’ radars once confirmation was communicated through official channels and he had already had his photo taken in the Pavis.
This is very much the Notts brand now.
Calm, considered and composed decisions made early to ensure that work can be done on developing the attacking, possession-based playing fundamentals that have been Notts’ USP for a few seasons now. And, according to Adam Chicksen when interviewed by BBC Radio Nottingham, it’s not something the club intend to give up now they are a league higher: "We have to adapt. The gaffer [Luke Williams] is pushing us further, adding more in, being more creative and getting us to the next level. The output will be similar but the level of smart players goes up. The IQ goes up the more levels you go up”
While work continues on Notts’ on-field brand, so too does its work off-field to ensure that the club never have to experience the necessary lessons life in the National League taught us.
One determined brand-related move is to protect Notts’ reclaimed status as ‘The World’s Oldest Professional Football Club’ by applying for the trademark to recognise this in the face of fanciful claims by Crystal Palace, amongst others. If that fails, Shaun Derry has been reappointed into the Palace backroom team to “have a word”.
Notts have also made determined moves to improve the fan experience at Meadow Lane, with the club set to welcome record-breaking numbers of season ticket holders this season. To celebrate, the club have installed a sound system that Spinal Tap would be proud of. We all hope for a top ten finish this season, but are safe in the knowledge we have a PA system that can go to eleven.
The return to the EFL also sees important revenue return to Notts’ academy system as it tries to recover from the impact of relegation to the National League and the dangers of working outside of EPPP. Academy Manager Dan Leivers gave this insight into how the clubs progress might enable Notts to regain their reputation for developing some of the city’s brightest talents:
Not that there hasn’t been some branding bumps along the way. Notts made the decision to return to traditional thicker stripes for the 2023-24 home shirt, something Luke Williams himself was pleased to see return, but made the slight faux-pas of having new sponsors John Pye Auctions in red on the shirt. This might seem trivial to some, but football is a tribal, emotive game. Clubs need to harness this energy, rather than confront it, to keep their brand as valuable as possible - and is exactly the sort of reason why they still don’t eat SugarPuffs in Sunderland.
Through the new kit launch Notts reaffirmed their Italian connections too, with an away kit that was a firm “ciao papera mia” to our Juventus brotherhood who continue to support and celebrate the club’s progress.
See the away kit’s outing at Telford here.
The man responsible for building this brand after the outstanding work of the late Jason Turner was also appointed recently. New CEO Joe Palmer begins his role on 7 August having had diverse experience across the EFL and European football with Shakhtar Donetsk. With help from Nottingham-based recruitment firm Forsyth Barnes, it is hoped that he can help ensure that Notts’ brand continues to be recognised and valued, both on and off the pitch.
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