Chief Executive Stefan Gamble, Club Secretary Daniel Mole, Director Leigh Pomlett and Manager Jon Whitney answered your questions at last night’s Fans Focus.
The first part of the evening saw SG provide answers from Chairman Jeff Bonser – who was not in attendance – to questions that had been submitted to the club via the Supporters' Trust.
- Of course I care about the club as the EFL’s longest-serving chairman
- I have attended many fans focus meetings in the past
- Football is our core business. WFC The Venue is a venture to generate money to help achieve success on the field
- The club’s ultimate aim is to be an established Championship club
- I would listen to sensible offers for the freehold of the stadium
- Keen to unite Walsall FC and the Banks’s Stadium – the potential sale of Troy Deeney could help, although it is hypothetical
- There has not been a rental increase at the Banks’s Stadium for eight years
- Jon Whitney served a long apprenticeship in a variety of roles before his appointment as manager. First-team manager was a natural progression
- We always advertise the club’s upcoming matches on the motorway advertising sign
- Rob Bonser plays a role in the commercial side of the club
- Former players haven’t been banned from the club
The second part of the evening allowed fans to ask their questions to the four-man panel…
Style of Football
JW – The team isn’t coached to play a direct way. We try to bring players in who want to play possession-based football. After Newport, we had four or five performances where we started to play the right way. We have to develop our players and we take pride in our youngsters. It’s a process and we aren’t the finished product.
DM – Philosophy has to go deeper than one man. After Newport, there was a meeting about moving back to our philosophy.
SG and DM accepted that the club haven’t communicated enough to fans and it needs to improve. DM – We don’t make the right decisions all the time. Fans have reasons to be angry but the club are trying to change this.
The club are in talks to extend Liam Kinsella’s contract. Also speaking to Kory Roberts about a longer term deal. Club have spoken to Erhun Oztumer and his representatives and made three offers. SG – Erhun has not said an outright no to us but he wants to assess his options at the right time. We have tried everything we can.
JW – I would love a team with all permanent players. I knew this would be a tough job and many people advised me not to take it. I had to rebuild the squad. We need to bring in a couple of faces and be more consistent, which comes over time with young players.
JW – Criticism affects the players. They’re young players and a lot of players have come in for some destructive criticism. Some of the players fear making mistakes, which makes it more difficult to play possession-based football. Social media is becoming a slow poison and I don’t want it to affect my players.
JW – We can’t bring young players in for the sake of it. Players will play if they deserve to play. The likes of Maz Kouhyar and Liam Kinsella are showing promise. We want to produce players in a positive environment.
JW on being manager
I have had 30 years in football as a player, coach, assistant manager. Am I the finished article? Definitely not. But everyone learns every day. And I can look in the mirror because I have done nothing to the detriment of the club. I still believe we will be successful in my tenure.
JW – I get what I can within the budget and it’s up to me how I spend the budget over the year. It’s always beneficial to develop homegrown players and we have to be sustainable. There are probably 22/23 clubs with higher budgets than me – some have five times the budget.
JW – Coming out of the cups was disappointing – I can’t defend that. We need to improve in a lot of areas. I’ve got to make sure you’ve got something to look forward to. We’ve got to enjoy watching our young players looking to fulfil their potential. The season has not finished – we have got plans for this season. We are determined to put smiles on faces.
LP - The £440,000 rent is a cost we have to bear but some EFL clubs pay a lot more for a lot less in terms of facilities. Should explore other options.
SG estimates the value for the freehold of the Banks’s Stadium would be £5-7m.
LP - If I wasn’t up here, I’d be down there, but I wouldn’t be protesting. I hope there isn’t a protest on Saturday. The last one turned ugly when a director went out.
WFC The Venue
DM - Decision over ‘Birmingham, Walsall’ was a conference decision to drive Birmingham crowds here. Club are proud to be from the Black Country.