Message from Jim McLinden

Now that I have been on the board for a few weeks, I would like to take this opportunity to update everyone on some of the plans I have for the club going forward.


Firstly, the appointment of Peter Murphy as first team manager has to be the biggest thing that has happened so far. After Marvin left it was important that we moved quickly to bring someone in, so they had the summer to plan and build a squad. We are delighted to get Peter on board and thanks must go to Annan for the way that they have dealt with things, they are our closest neighbours and we have a great relationship with them, so we were all also delighted to see them stay in the division, giving us 4 local derbies for next season. In terms of ambition, we cannot have another season like we have just had, we have outlined to Peter that we must be pushing for promotion next season, which he has accepted, we have confidence in his ability and we are excited to see what will happen.


In terms of the squad, we are not aiming to have as big a squad as last year 29 players was just too many. There must be a reduction in budget because we cannot keep on losing large sums of money every year, so we are looking at a mix of quality players and some of the younger boys. We have a great crop of young players at the club, and we need to be using them and bringing them through, they are the lifeblood of clubs, with that in mind, we are looking at the range of 20 players for next season. 


There are a number of players in the Academy that I have been fortunate myself to see for the last three years with my own son being involved. We have young, local, talented players who really need to get their chance. So, if the first team manager is happy with them, he will give them the opportunity and he will bring them on. A lot of Peter's background has been working with young players and trying to bring them through and develop them. I am sure that is what everyone at the club and everyone locally would like to see, young local players getting their chance at a career. 


There has been chat the youth set up may be changing, there has been discussions around what league the reserves are going to be in; we have looked at the possibility of being in a 20s league to try and bridge that gap, but these things are at the very early stages. For now, we are working out where we are going to go with that, but obviously Peter will be a big part of that decision. He has obviously just come in, so there is still a lot of things for him to sort out, in time he will hold discussions with Andy Irving and the youth management team and we will take it from there.


As I have mentioned, youth is a lifeblood for clubs like Queens and we have been lucky enough to have several players come through and make the first team squad. Part of that was down to the funding given to the club from supporters like the Barflies and the Tanner Fund. In my time watching youth football at the club, players like Lewis Currie,Jay Burns, Ben Johnstone, Lewis Gibson and Niall Rogerson have all benefitted from that. Therefore, speaking for everyone on the board, we were all very disappointed to hear that the Tanner Fund has disbanded, we feel it was a fantastic asset to the club and I would be delighted to engage with anyone locally who has ideas to try and see if there is something we can do to help out and resurrect something. One of the things that Peter brought up was, what happened with the Tanner Fund and I do not have the answer. I am certainly open to speak to anyone, why wouldn't I welcome a local fund that is set up to help our young players get a chance? I would be mad not to, so please come to me and talk to me. 


There are obviously other groups out there, like the Queens Trust that we are open to speak to as well.  The main thing is if there are Queens fans out there and they want to try and bring something to the club, please come and speak to us.  


I have only been on the board for a short time and with the others looking to move on we are actively looking for more people to become directors. We have already got someone else, lined up to come onto the board around July time. He cannot do it right now and obviously I cannot say who it is.  I am also due to meet with a local guy who has been a lifelong supporter of the club because it is very important to have that representation, as soon as I am in a position to let you know of any progress, I will do so. 


When I joined the board, I made it clear that one thing that I wanted to do was to engage with the fans. I think that is absolutely key, and I will be open to talking to anyone. At the last home game of the season, I walked around the ground, spoke to staff and volunteers, then into the bars and hospitality, I was there for people to approach and talk, if they wanted to. I would like to have that open relationship with the fans and I will answer questions as honestly as I can. In terms of future fan engagement,

We have a whole host of events lined up which we can reveal in due course I want to have players out in the community, meeting sponsors, meeting fans, meeting schools, which I think is important. There needs to be a strong link between young fans and the club. We are also looking at doing a fans forum during preseason. Which will involve Dan Armstrong, who has now been made chief executive (there' will be more on that in due course), Peter Murphy, and myself. We will sit down and answer questions and just talk to fans.


It obviously cannot be a one-way thing though; the supporters need to play their part too. We need to get people back through the door, so what I am asking people is for whatever reason that you have stopped coming to Queen of the South, please come back, we will welcome you with open arms and we will try and get things right.


We are trying to answer as many concerns as we can, we obviously cannot fix everything immediately and the size of the club dictates a budget that we have to work within. We want to get as many short-term fixes done as we can before the summer starts. It is only four weeks to preseason, so it is not a long time to do stuff and we will have more time to plan for next season.


Initially, we are going to be doing work to the toilet block as it is not acceptable and that is all going to be renewed over the summer. We are doing a lot of work in the stands right now, we are cleaning them and will be replacing broken seats, just trying to get the place as clean as possible. There is a bunch of volunteers coming in to do work and they will all be named eventually when I say thank you. As well as that group, I have a number of staff that work for me that are now going to be working up at the club for a few months just to try and get things improved.


We have an old stand and there is not a lot we can do about it in the short term other than try and make it as clean and tidy and in a state of good repair as far as possible. The stadium's got character, you know, we could have a soulless stadium, concrete and metal everywhere, but it is not like that here and I do not think anyone would like it to be like that. We just need to improve what we have got. It's going to be a process, but as long as we keep making positive changes, eventually we'll get to there. It is worth saying again, anyone that wants to help us, just come forward.


For the last decade, my Wife and I have been one of the main sponsors of Carlisle United. We have sponsored their Academy all that time and the last three years, we have also sponsored the youth team as well. We have also been involved and supported them in various other initiatives and before I became a director, I had been asked by the board to see if I could use my relationship with the club to try and get Queens and Carlisle back together again. There used to be a good relationship with the clubs. Talks have taken place and Carlisle Chief Executive is delighted to try and help.  Right now, we are looking at reinstating a preseason friendly for the Borders Cup. We will look at how we can use players in different ways as it makes sense for both clubs. We are within 40 minutes travelling of each other. We're both full time clubs, but neither is competing, with the other, so it's a great way to provide support both ways and I see a few things working out from that. 


It is an exciting time from my perspective, but I will be honest with you, I was hesitant and took some time to think about joining the board, because the club is a real community asset and it is vital to do a good job as a director of it. I wanted to be sure in my mind that I wouldn’t let people down, but now I am very excited about the positive changes that we can make, I am looking forward to what is going to happen on the pitch next season.


This is a great club, it has a great history. We have a short-term plan, which was getting new manager in, we are planning for next season and then that plan will stretch out. Obviously, we need to get out of League One. This club does not work in League One, financially or otherwise. We need to be a Championship club where it works really well and is sustainable and then we have a chance to make some real changes. So the short-term focus must be get us out of this division and then try and focus on where we go from that. 


We need to deliver big time, that is going to fall onto Peter on the pitch and myself and the new board off it. One thing I can promise is that we will all work tirelessly to make it happen and as long as we are all pulling in the same direction, we will bring success back to the club.


Hopefully, that will have answered some of your questions and for now my overall message would be please come back. You are needed and we want to have you here. We will continue to make the changes we can, so please bear with us, get behind the team and the club. By working together, we can take Queen of the South back to where we should be.