Good evening and a warm welcome to Elland Road.
Having steadied the ship with two draws against promotion contenders and a win against Brentford, the result and performance at Middlesbrough was hugely disheartening. Frustratingly we, once again, failed to create the momentum that would take us back to the brink of the Play-Offs.
The only bright spot of the evening was the wonderful away support that braved and conquered “The Beast of the East” to turn up in huge numbers with their unconditional vocal support. Everyone at the club appreciates the commitment and sacrifices that our away support make, so not delivering the performance that it deserves is bitterly disappointing.
While there is a lot of context that has influenced our current league position, the board have demanded a no excuse culture and this has been championed by Paul Heckingbottom at Thorp Arch. Mistakes are recognised, lessons learnt, and our faith in a long-term sustainable strategy remains intact.
The foundations we are building may not be immediately visible but they will ultimately pay dividends. The best place to start is tonight against the league leaders who present the opportunity deliver a performance and result that can galvanise the team and supporters for the run-in.
Off the pitch we attended the EFL club conference which was an opportunity to meet with our counterparts at the other 71 league clubs and understand our shared challenges. We voted in favour of an earlier close to the summer transfer window to bring us into line with the Premier League by forcing teams to assemble their squads prior to the start of the season. This should provide more certainty for managers and players alike.
The other hotly debated topic amongst the Championship clubs was the future direction of Financial Fair Play. In a league which is dramatically financially distorted by Premier League parachute payments, there are widely differing opinions of the extent to which clubs should be allowed to finance playing squads beyond their natural means. Our belief is that supporters need to be protected from the dangers of short-term speculators and that prudent and responsible long-term financial management of club custodians should be rewarded.
Finally, following our announcement of prices being frozen for a fifth consecutive year, we have been delighted with the number of supporters renewing their Season Tickets. We urge all supporters to reconfirm their commitment before the deadline on March 30 to ensure they secure their desired seat and early renewal discount (for those opting for our finance plan the first payment will not be taken until the end of April). We need our record Season Ticket base of 20,000 to stay on the journey as you are the key pillar of what will make us successful.