‘WEMBLEY was wonderful’ seems to be the assessment from the Amber Army who lit it up on Saturday in the final of the FA Trophy, but the experience needs to be used as a springboard to so much more.
The example has been set and the template is clear, County need to follow the lead of Saturday’s victors York City.
Three years ago after surprisingly becoming embroiled in the Conference relegation zone, York were defeated 2-0 at Wembley in the FA Trophy final against a superior Stevenage Borough.
A year later and the Minstermen were back at Wembley in the playoff final, beaten by Oxford who, like Stevenage, would establish themselves in the Football League.
The surprising departure of Martin Foyle probably contributed to York just missing out on the playoffs last term.
However, this season they not only won their first trophy in 90-years at Wembley but they will also fight for the right to play League Two football against Luton this weekend.
Four Wembley visits in three years, steady progress, a manageable budget and a manager – Gary Mills – with a clear vision of how the game should be played and a clear strategy.
That has been York’s recipe for success and it is a format for Newport County to try to emulate as they begin the first steps towards re-establishing themselves as a Conference National club. The Exiles have huge potential as Saturday proved but the key is to maximise that as quickly as possible.
Many would argue that the key to that is the move to Rodney Parade, but that may or may not be within County’s control. But there are other factors that they can manage and those are where the priorities should lie.
For the life of me I can’t comprehend why County are still entirely reliant on volunteers behind the scenes.
A club like the Exiles is always going to require the good will of its supporters but by the same token, running the office and the commercial department should be the job of professionals.
The part-time salaries for those two positions would amount to half that of a player’s yearly income and would help County to project an image of being a full-time outfit off the field as well as on it.
The potential is there in terms of increasing the commercial arm of the club and Wembley proved that. But will the club do anything about it?
Never again should the fans be asked to contribute extra funds to sign players. It makes the club look small fry, irrespective of the directors being overly optimistic in terms of their yearly budget. And it’s imperative that all the unexpected money from this season is used carefully.
Simply put, the Exiles should be conservative in their budgeting and plan to increase the purse strings available to Justin Edinburgh if required. Not give him every penny they have and then hope the fans will dig deep if more players are needed.
This season turned out better than anyone could have realistically hoped in December and now is the time for County to plan. No short-term measures, no more reliance on people who will work for free.
Be bold, strategic and patient when required and follow the York template. The rewards will follow.