EDITOR'S CHAIR: Get real. It's been a season of success for Newport County.
Updated 9:42am Thursday 27th March 2014 in News
TODAY'S column is all about Newport County AFC's first season back in the Football League.
These are my views as a supporter and season ticket holder. Readers should note that my opinion is no more or less valid than any other Rodney Parade regular.
So here goes.
Despite the hysteria generated by a tiny minority of people on the Argus website and other online outlets, I am convinced the 2013/14 football season will be seen as a successful one for Newport County AFC.
Despite some ludicrous calls for his head by so-called supporters who were happy enough to bask in the success he has brought the club, manager Justin Edinburgh has almost certainly achieved the club's aim of survival in their first season back in the Football League after 25 years in non-league exile.
Has it been a perfect season? Of course not.
Have there been problems on and off the pitch that could have been avoided or handled better? Almost certainly.
But County sit in 12th place in League Two, with some far bigger clubs below them in the division, and with just eight games left to play.
Most sensible and realistic supporters would have taken that at the start of the season.
There are undoubtedly improvements that need to be made if County are to establish themselves as a Football League club.
On the field, Edinburgh will need to overhaul a squad that is still made up largely of the players who achieved promotion from the Conference.
The manager's loyalty to those players is to be applauded but it has become apparent as the season has unfolded that some are not of Football League quality.
Above all, Edinburgh needs a goalscorer - someone who can deliver 15 to 20 goals a season. Some might argue he has one in the ranks already in the form of Aaron O'Connor.
But last season's top scorer has yet to play this season due to injury and therefore the jury remains out on his ability to take his Conference form into the Football League.
Off the field, it is my firm view that the football and rugby clubs that share Rodney Parade need to work more closely together.
The ground-share is still in its infancy but if it is to succeed then Rodney Parade needs to become the headquarters of Newport's premier sporting clubs with each taking equal billing.
At the moment, the place still feels like a rugby ground that stages football matches.
As a business, Newport County needs to operate in a sustainable way - and that means not just relying on the largesse of the club's lottery-winning chairman. There is no doubt the club's directors and management want to operate a sustainable business model. And there is equally no doubt that the weather and the havoc it played with the pitch has put that desire off track this season.
In my view, one of the ways in which clubs like County can survive and prosper - notwithstanding maximising crowds, sponsorship and hospitality - is via proper investment in their youth set-ups.
Clubs like Crewe Alexandra and, prior to their elevation to the Premier League, Southampton are prime examples of this.
County should be aiming to grow their own players and then sell them on for substantial profit. That is how lower-league clubs survive.
If Newport produce a Lee Evans every couple of seasons, then the club becomes able to grow in an organic and sustainable manner.
So there have been problems this season. There have been lessons learned. And there is still much to do on and off the field.
But this has still been a successful season for Newport County after 25 years in the non-league wilderness.
They will still be in the Football League next season and that is mission accomplished for 2013/14.
That is the reality of the situation and at the end of the season the vast majority of County supporters will, I am convinced, be reflecting on a job well done.
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