IT WASN’T quite as significant as the one held at the Lysaght Institute back in June 1989, but last week’s open supporters’ meeting at Rodney Parade will have left most of those who attended encouraged by the state their club is in.

Three decades on from the reformation of the club as Newport AFC, Newport County AFC appear to be in relatively good shape as they prepare for a seventh successive season in League Two.

There would, of course, have been much more of an air of anticipation if Michael Flynn’s men had managed to beat Tranmere Rovers in the play-off final in May to seal a place in League One.

But, despite that Wembley disappointment, season ticket sales are healthier than they were at this stage last year.

County sold a total of 1,542 last season, including 1,295 before the first game.

This summer they have already sold 1,450 with more than a month to go before the season-opener at home to Mansfield Town on August 3 and the target is 1,800.

Supporters were also told that turnover has increased in the club shop and the club’s overall turnover has increased by 45 per cent, primarily due to the FA Cup run, while debt owed to creditors has been significantly reduced.

In the current climate, with countless clubs in the EFL running into financial difficulties and struggling to pay players’ wages, that is clearly positive news.

The Supporters Trust has also made welcome progress in increasing the funds raised from, which is obviously vital to the club building a more sustainable future.

A total of 914 members have switched to the new monthly packages and each are contributing at least £5 a month to the club.

There are 388 members on the bronze package (£5 a month), 368 silver members (£10 a month), 132 gold (£20 a month), 10 platinum (a minimum of £50 per month), 12 ex-pat members (£25 per month) and three corporate members.

There are also still more than 200 members who are still waiting for their old annual packages of £10 a year to expire before deciding whether to contribute monthly.

That means the club has reached its target of raising a minimum of £100,000 per year from Trust members.

It’s another big plus, although that level of investment is nowhere near enough to keep the club going on its own.

And there was an acknowledgement from the club’s finance manager Nigel Stephenson that a mid-table finish in 2019-2020 with no lucrative cup run would likely see the club lose £350,000 – just as they did in the year up to June 2017.

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Trust members have previously indicated their desire to move to a ‘hybrid’ ownership model and outside investment is still being sought to complement the money raised by Trust subscriptions.

Members would get the deciding vote on whether to accept any investment offers, but Trust chairman Shaun Johnson believes that any changes to the status quo would have to be “transformative” and he revealed that a derisory offer had recently been rejected out of hand.

“I’m always worried about too much focus on one individual because it’s a big risk if something goes wrong,” said Johnson, who is due to stand down from the board before this summer’s elections along with operational chairman Gavin Foxall and fellow director Mike Everett.

“But if there are people out there who approach the football club with something that is truly transformative, who would come in with £10m to £15m to build a new ground I think all of us would consider that very seriously.

“What we won’t consider seriously is some party that offered us £200,000 for the football club three months ago.

“We didn’t think it would be worth coming to the members to see if we could meet the 75 per cent threshold for someone to, in effect, buy the football club for less that what’s in the bank at the moment.

“We would come to you [the Trust members] if there was a transformative offer. If a group or a multi-millionaire put something to us and said, ‘we’re going to take you to the Championship’ then of course we’d consult.”

There appears to be little prospect of that happening any time soon and the main priority right now is to secure County’s future at Rodney Parade.

The current lease runs out in 2023 and it would be a fitting tribute to the late Justin Edinburgh, who was key to the switch from Spytty Park back in 2012, if a new agreement can be reached with the WRU to keep the club at Rodney Parade for the foreseeable future.

Read more: Staying at Rodney Parade number one priority for Newport County