Chairman's Column 03.09.2022

Guillem Balague

Chairman's Column 03.09.2022

The deal was too good to miss. Free basic home kit for the senior sides and substantial discounts on all other team kits. The overall saving would shave some £15k off of our usual, annual kit bill. “Go ahead William” I said. William is one of our many volunteers who works behind the scenes to “ make things happen” at the club. He’s been Sponsorship manager for the past five years. This season he’s also become kit manager. Small wonder then that he’s fled the country and now lives in Spain!

We were about to sign a deal with Hola5 Sport, whose CEO, Ujjal Chatterjee, had contacted us via social media (social media is a godsend for clubs like ours) and made the very attractive offer. What we didn’t know, at that stage, was that the factory in which our future kit would be manufactured in Calcutta, was at the “development” stage. In other words, the machines were being installed and workers recruited as the orders began to roll in : First team, reserves, women’s two teams, and so on. We were ordering well in advance to ensure that we could start the season with all teams kitted out. Inevitably, such rapid-fire ordering in such bulk caused something of a logjam as an increasingly anxious looking Ujjal explained to William in what became regular zoom sessions between Ujjal in India and William in Spain. Samples which we requested eventually arrived and we were concerned about the quality. “ Don’t worry! “ Ujjal advised, “ The new machines will make all the difference.”

We prayed a lot.

Designs were passed back and forth, discussed with the board and agreed upon. Ujjal had decided that sponsor logos on front of shirts would stand out better in yellow, regardless of the original corporate colours. William, keen to expedite delivery as soon as possible, agreed. One of the sponsor didn’t, by which time it had been manufactured and delivered. Fortunately a design error meant we could get it all done again, but at reduced cost. By now we were into the second week of the season and kit is still dribbling through. Fortunately quality, colour, design are all very acceptable, but teething troubles remain. Shorts are too tight , tracksuits are too small, logos continue to be a problem, but these issues are being ironed out and, having agreed the deal for two years, we can at least feel assured that we’ll get it 90% right for next season.

William advises me that the role of kit manager is far from easy. Liaising with teams, compiling order sheets ( helped, thankfully, by one of our technical secretaries, Giacomo Mallamaci) talking at all hours of the day and night with an increasingly fraught Ujjal, who, regardless, is doing his utmost to meet our demands.

Yes. It’s that time of year again. The start of the season , and another kit drama