Exeter City thoughts have already turned to next season

Julian Tagg is the Club president and director of external affairs of Exeter City FC

With the final game of the season now becoming a distant memory – yes, I know it was only a month ago – thoughts turn to the future and to our third season in League One.

We know Gary will be starting this campaign with a more complete squad than last year – and we’ve already seen a good number of contract extensions, including Shaun MacDonald, Yanic Wildschut, Jack Aitchison, and everyone’s joint-favourite Fin Ilamari Niskanen.

Academy players Ed James, Cheick Diabate and Tom Dean have all also signed on the dotted line.

The recruitment team are constantly scouting players, looking at how they could fit into the team, like a football jigsaw puzzle – but one that has people instead of pieces with a constantly changing picture!

The squad are back to full training in June in preparation for pre-season matches in July, which include trips to Weston-super-Mare, Mousehole, Yeovil Town and Torquay United – all in preparation to kick off the 2024-25 season on August 10.

We will know on June 26 when the fixtures are released where our first match will be – and it can’t come soon enough.

Pre-season matches are a great chance to see the squad coming together and a way for us to thank the teams who take our players, and particularly our younger players, on loan, giving them valuable experience of men’s football.

Even though the football has stopped, the hard work continues across the club, all focused on improving the supporter experience. We just recently were awarded gold for our ‘exceptional family matchday experience’ in the EFL Family Excellence Scheme for the fourth year in a row – one of only 13 clubs across all the English Football League to achieve the accolade for the 2023-24 season.

Well done to everyone – volunteers and staff – who work so hard to achieve this incredible standard, which positions us third in League One and eighth out of all 72 clubs.

We’ve made huge strides in recent years, improving the club in all areas, and this month we were able to secure the Cliff Hill Training Ground when we bought the land.

We’re so grateful to the Hill family for all their support over the years; what an amazingly generous thing Clifford did all of those years ago to buy the land and lease it to the club on a peppercorn rent – yet another person who has played an important part in securing our club’s future.

The upgrades to the training ground make such a difference to being able to attract players to our club. It’s also where the women’s team train, and haven’t they had the most incredible year, finishing champions of the National League Division One South.

Congratulations to the whole amazing team who have grafted it out through the leagues over the years and battled hard to secure promotion. They are now playing at level three of huge pyramid.

All in all, it was an amazing season which saw them unbeaten, but they took it to the wire, drawing against Bournemouth, who had been their rivals for the top spot all season long. It was all played out in front of a record crowd of 800 people and a further 30,900 tuned in to watch it online. Make sure you get along to game next season!

Back to SJP, we’re making good use of the stadium during the off season, when you’ll hopefully get a chance to see some of the improvements.

You’ll be able to catch that One of Our Own, Ollie Watkins, when hopefully he lines up for England in the Euros, which will be shown on the big screen in June.

Then there’s the ever-popular Party in the Park on July 7, expect the usual mix of live music, entertainment, food and drink and the chance to see the new away kit for the first time.

And then we’ve got the corporate golf day at Woodbury Park on July 31.

If you’ve still got a mid-mashie or a niblick in your bag, then it’s probably not for you, but if you know your way around a course, then come and join us.

You’ll get to play with the squad and members of the backroom team, and these boys play a decent game! It’s really great value, as well, so contact our commercial team to book your place on commercial@ecfc.co.uk.

So, as we look to the new season, thank you to everyone who continues to support our club – more than 2,000 of you have already bought season tickets, which is just fantastic.

We’ve got some big hitters, with serious budgets, whether that’s Birmingham City coming down to our league, or Hollywood’s favourite team, Wrexham coming up.

There’s one thing for sure, it’s going to be another rollercoaster ride. See you at SJP. Up the City!