Around 150 people packed into the Priory Lounge at the Banks's Stadium last night for a passionate fans focus meeting. Here is a summary of the evening's events, with answers provided by directors Stefan Gamble and Dan Mole...
On signing a striker
Jon Whitney hopeful of bringing in a striker. SG agrees that we need more goals in the team and the stats speak for themselves. We’d like one in sooner rather than later.
The manager has a budget to spend as he chooses. We have brought some players in and hopefully we will bring in some more. It’s a competitive budget – it’s bigger than it was last season and the season before when we finished third.
Conscious effort not to get in as many players on loan. We’ve only got one in so far.
On losing players
Contracts have a finite end. Sometimes players won’t sign extensions. Sometimes managers are reluctant to give players longer term deals.
On player contracts
We pay the players what we can afford. We work within the budget constraints.
Where’s Jeff Bonser?
We will relay the message on to him that the fans want him to be here.
On bringing in players
Everyone would like all their signings in by 1st July but it’s not that straightforward. I would much rather have a squad in place that you can worth with. It is a frustration, but it’s not always possible.
There is a scouting system in place. Jon’s got contacts in the north and in the south and people keep an eye out for players for him. We invest in a system called Wyscout which allows you to watch players from all over the world. Jon Whitney, Neil Cutler, Ian Sharps and John Ward all scout players.
On Andreas Makris
We brought him in and got it wrong. We identified him as an international player but it didn’t work out for Andreas. We have lost money on him but it could be a net gain with sell ons and clauses in contract. The Makris fee will be paid in instalments, with a 50/50 split between budget and infrastructure.
On 50/50 policy
The 50/50 policy has been in place for some years. We can go back to the chairman and state that more should be invested in the team for progress on the pitch. Infrastructure is more than just the stadium – we invest a lot in the academy and have invested in the AstroTurf. How are we meant to produce decent players without the right facilities?
On purchasing the stadium
There have been conversations for many years with banks about purchasing the stadium. Constantly reviewing the situation but no resolution.
On stadium repairs
Jeff Bonser is not responsible for paying for repairs to stadium – the football club has to fund any repairs.
On fan frustrations
SG - I appreciate there are frustrations. I can feel the discontent in the room. I’ve been at a fans forum when only 10 people have been here and they’ve all been happy.
On aims for 2017/18
SG - The goal has always been promotion but I’m not going to insult your intelligence and say we expect to finish in the top two. Minimum top half.
On 2017/18 season tickets
Season tickets are slightly up this season. Converting 25 junior season ticket holders each year.
On end to last season
We were not satisfied with how we finished last season. Everything we do is to see the fruits of our labour on the field of play.
On striker search
Jon has talked to around seven or eight attacking targets, some are permanent deals and some are loans. Talks are ongoing and we as a board support him in that.
On club philosophy
The hope and the philosophy of the football club is to bring young players through. We look at the whole club and whole infrastructure.
On football philosophy
Jon has got a slightly different philosophy to the one of Dean Smith but in agreement with the club. Jon’s version is slightly tweaked. He wants to work from a solid base – which we’ve seen from the recruitment over the summer.
On Erhun Oztumer
Talks over a new contract are ongoing and started eight months ago.
On length of player contracts
Fan asks: why aren’t players tied down for longer? Answer: agents get nervous about players being tied down for longer than 2 years as they only get a fee when a player moves on. Also don't want to offer a long-term contract for a player when it might not work out.
On keeping Neil Etheridge during last season
We turned down a significant six-figure sum for Neil Etheridge in January because we felt he was an important part of the squad. Common sense says sell but he was an important part of the team.
On Jon Whitney’s three-year contract
We have to stand by the decisions we make. You make these contracts with the best decisions and who’s to say that the contract won’t be right.
On kit problems
DM - We had problems with JD and we’ve had problems with Errea too. 3D badge looked cool and we wanted to implement it – but issue with the first batch that came in. We apologise – refunding and exchanging available to supporters. Second batch has gone through due diligence – issues shouldn’t occur. Errea don’t produce baby kits, just training kit. 40-day turnaround with Errea. JD problems were that factories were deficient and they’re now out of the football industry. Errea have lots of advantages supply wise.
On transfer fees/wages
Crazy money being spent higher up the game. We have to create a sustainable club. We’re not going to compete on transfer fees. We’re not always going to compete on wages.
On plan moving forward
The plan we had two years ago is still in place. It’s gone slightly off kilter, but we have to make sure the roots are strong.
On Jon Whitney with the press
At times he is naïve in the press because he is passionate. He answers questions in full and doesn’t always get it right. Difficult for managers to speak after games when emotions are running high.
On safe standing
Safe standing mentioned on a number of occasions. Monitoring trial at Shrewsbury with great interest. A singing section shouldn’t have to be fabricated. Obvious police concerns and going to talk about possible dangers. Policing adds thousands of pounds.
On former players
Past players are at most games. Work in tandem with Walsall FC Supporters’ Trust for former players day.
On travelling to friendlies
Different requirements – sometimes travel by car, sometimes coach. Coaches supplied for Lincoln and Chester.
On Checkatrade Trophy
Voted to return to previous Checkatrade Trophy format but two-thirds voted for new format and one-third against.
On why the swift in our badge is white and not gold
SG - The badge isn’t my forte!