FANS FORUM 2015/16
By paddysboyz_jr
Friday 15 Apr 2016 23:25:00
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Macclesfield Town F.C. fans forum

Date: Thursday 14th April 2016
Time: 6.30p.m.
Present: John Askey (Manager), Mark Blower (Chairman), Andy Worth (Compere), Helen Bona (Hospitality and Function Manager), Julie Briggs (Club Secretary), Barrie Darcey (Club official)

On Thursday evening, approximately 40-50 people attended the fans forum in the McIlroy Suite and the following information gives an overview of what was discussed. If there if anything that people think has been omitted from this account, or needs to be amended, then please let me know and I will update the article.

Question 1: In 2010/11 season, we were voted as one of the best pitches in the Football League, it doesn't seem flat. Do they not have a roller?

John Askey: No I've not been happy with the pitch since January, we currently don't have a roller and I do ask for the playing surface to be watered but this doesn't seem to be happening.

Follow up question: So what has happened to the roller?

John Askey: I don't know.

Mark Blower: On May 28th, we are scheduled to be resurfacing and reseeding the pitch with the help of Campey Turf Care.

John Askey then followed this up by thanking the volunteers who he stated do an excellent job at the football club.

Question 2: Now for the elephant in the room, what has happened to Efe Sodje?

Mark Blower: Unfortunately the club are not allowed to say anything about Efe Sodje due to legal reasons at this time but are hoping to make a statement very soon.

Question 3: When are we going to go back to having an Annual General Meeting (AGM)?

Mark Blower: Amar Alkadhi owns 80% of the limited company and as it stands, we only have one director on board which we would soon like to rectify. Once we have a more robust situation in terms of number of directors on board, then we will look to reintroduce the AGMs.

Question 4: What are the current finances of the club in terms of the playing budget for next season and are we going to be able to keep our current players?

Mark Blower: The budget for next season has not been finalised yet. We want to become a community, self-sustaining football club but ‘the house' is in much better order compared to two seasons ago. Without a major benefactor, we won't have a big budget and in terms of running the club, it costs around one million pounds a year. We have to look at other revenue such as advertising boards, golf days etc. and in terms of the Vanarama National League, we are in the bottom five for our playing budget so John (Askey) is doing a great job! There is no other money going out expect for the usual bills that you have to pay.

John Askey: I'm trying to sign a number of players already here and I will be talking with them after the Guiseley game. I will be once again looking to pick up more players; I feel that we've been playing some good football and have got a better team than we did last season. In January and February we lost Paul Lewis and Paul Turnball to injury which really affected our midfield. Whatever budget we have next season, we've got to try and achieve because every supporter wants to see a successful football team and it would be great if a benefactor did come in. I would like to thank the anonymous benefactor and those that contributed to the 10k dash earlier in the season and I apologise that we're not fighting for a play-off position.

Question 5: Is there a plan to put a youth team back in place despite the fact that I know this is a selling club?

Mark Blower: The Centre of Excellence closed 3 years ago and since then, the Community Sports Trust (CST) has come in. We would like to bring it back and put it until the control of the football club and there is a benefactor who is helping to set it all up but it is not a huge amount of money. Plans are afoot, and we will let you know more in the next couple of months.

John Askey: It took about 10 years to bring youth players such as Nick Blackman, Shaun Brisley, Kristian Dennis and John Rooney through the system and it is important to get the youngsters back into the club. We've not got the Football League money now.

Mark Blower: The Stoke City under 21's initiative has not gone as well as we thought it was going to do.

Question 6: First of all, thank to you John, you've done a tremendous job. We went through a barren spell midway through the season and I felt that this started at the away game at Southport where we were outfought and outmuscled on a bad pitch. Do you think stronger players might help? This is a question for Mark. Did you speak with Amar Alkadhi and was it a long or short conversation?

Mark Blower: I did speak with Amar before the forum and he has apologised for not being here. Amar has invested a lot into the club and I am more involved in the day to day running of the club and can't speak on Amar's behalf in terms of selling the club. Does he want to sell? Amar believes there is value within the club and interested buyers will have to pay the going rate. Amar wants someone who will invest in the club and would be careful with who he sold to because he wants it to go to owners who are interested in developing the football side of things here at the Moss Rose as opposed to wanting the land for other purposes such as building houses.

Question 7: Could the Silkmen Supporters Trust (SST) get the stadium to become an asset of community value and would it be helpful for the SST to liaise with the Council around gifting their freehold so that it helps to maintain the future of the club?

Mark Blower: We've got 5 years to buy the freehold back. We're currently in the third year of this and we remain confident that we will be able to buy the freehold back.

Question 8: Has the owner got ambition or is he using it as a business man's toy?

Mark Blower: I can't answer for Amar, all I can do is run the club to the best of my ability and the £40,000 that was raised at the beginning of the season was great!

John Askey: In order to have a reasonable budget, a benefactor will have to come along or it will have to be a joint effort, it's just the way it is! People need to come up with new ideas; otherwise we just have to get on with it! Paying wages is really tight and I know Mark has had a few sleepless nights about it! Andy (Worth), Tony (Brown) and I were involved in setting up the 10k dash and it helped to sign up a number of players back in January. We was promised £75,000 by Amar at the beginning of the season but didn't receive it.

A member of the audience commented on their belief that is was' bare faced cheek' that Amar describes the football club as being of value when it appeared that he didn't value the club himself.

Question 9: 23 out of 24 clubs in this league have a benefactor, what makes us so unattractive to potential benefactors?

Mark Blower: Macclesfield Town is an attractive option but Amar remains committed to the right deal being reached for both the club and himself.

A member of the audience voiced their opinion that Amar is holding the club over a barrel / to ransom in terms of selling the club.

Question 10: A number of people had been wondering about the ‘To Let' sign in the car park outside the football ground. Could anyone shed any light on this?

Mark Blower: The land is not owned by the football club. The person that does own is not here so I cannot comment further. What I can assure you is that it will be in no way detrimental to the football club and possibly even have some benefits for it.

Question 11: Considering the style of football we play, would it be beneficial to create better links with the two Manchester clubs?

Mark Blower: We do have contact with these clubs and they do like John's style of play. Obviously they both have big academies and are a big global brand. In the past we have had links where their season ticket holders were entitled to attend one of our home games. We will keep trying to develop those links further.

Question 12: Are there any plans for a new stadium?

Mark Blower: There are no plans on the table at this time. However a new stadium is still part of the plans for the South Macclesfield Development Area.

Question 13: Do we have say on policing?

Mark Blower: I'm now on first name terms with the assistant chief constable, and the bill was in the region of double digit thousands. The Cheltenham game will bring in a big crowd and we intend to steward the match ourselves without any police presence.

Question 14: How are the season ticket sales going?

Mark Blower: They're going good, obviously we would like to sell more and I think we sold around 627 season tickets last year. The first phase sales are practically identical to last season and we anticipate that the final number of season tickets sold to be around the same number.

Question 15: Football League Clubs such as Bradford City and Coventry City often start with extremely low priced season tickets in order to sell more. Can we do something similar in order to get more people through the gates?

Mark Blower: There is a central funding of around £55,000. The price structure is fair and it would be a risk to play around with the pricing too much plus it's easier to introduce such initiatives in bigger populated areas. The early bird offer here is better than at some other clubs.

A member of the audience mentioned that Port Vale offer a 10 game ticket and half season tickets.

Mark Blower: The football club has done this a couple of times over the last few seasons but it has not been particularly successful. We're always open to those ideas, anything to encourage more people and everyone has a part to play in this.

Question 16: Am I contributing to the playing budget more by waiting last minute until I buy my season ticket?

Mark Blower: It doesn't have an impact on the playing budget if you buy later; it just goes towards the club financially.

Question 17: Was there an awareness of the parachute payments that the relegated clubs from League 2 would receive?

Mark Blower: I believe that they amount to several hundred thousand pounds.

Question 18: Is there a possibility of having more control around the scheduling of fixtures? My example is the Silkmen playing Dover on the same night as Manchester City playing a home match in the Champions League quarter-final.

Mark Blower: We do have a say but this was a pre-arranged fixture.

Julie Briggs: Both teams have to agree to a fixture change and gave the Easter game between Gateshead and Macclesfield Town as an example when it was changed from Easter Saturday to Good Friday.

Question 19: I am delighted with the prospect of pitch renovation with the support of Campey turf care and in terms of the pitch, John as you may remember, didn't Sammy McIlroy do the same with a roller and it damaged the drainage system?

A member of the audience questioned the competence of the referee from Tuesday night.

John Askey: The roller requested by Sammy was used so they could slow down the pitch for everyone to be as the same pace as me (which was met with much laughter by the audience) and in terms of the referee on Tuesday night, we did write to the FA last season to request that we not have this referee when considering his links with a local Macclesfield school.

Question 20: As mentioned on Wraggs on Riches on more than one occasion, there seems to be a general consensus that communication between the club and its fans could be better. What do you feel we can do to improve this?

Mark Blower: The club will try and communicate as much as it can do. We will do our best, but we must keep to the facts, and we will always listen for ideas from the fans on how this can be improved.

Question 21: When will the next fans forum be?

Mark Blower: During the pre-season in July, and I know that many of the fans to see Amar there so that they can ask him for answers to questions that only he can answer. I will do my very best to see if this can happen.

A member of the audience commended the club on how quick it had been when informing us on the successful appeal of Ritchie Branagan's red card from Tuesday night.

Question 22: What has happened to John Askey's interviews on Silkmen Player?

John Askey: I am not currently doing them and it is my choice. I felt that the finger football highlights after the Boreham Wood game was derogative towards the players and it has in fact helped to spur them on.

A member of the audience commented that it is nice to have a player like Reece Styche who gets in the face of players.

Andy Worth commended Helen Bona on the running of the hospitality side of the club and how warm and friendly she has helped to make it for everyone.

Helen Bona: Thank you Andy! It is essential to come and use the services here as there is a number of rooms available here such as Keith's Bar, the McIlroy Suite etc. The issue of heating in the McIlroy Suite is an issue, especially in the winter months though we will continue to promote the venues; word of mouth is essential however!

Mark Blower: Yes there is an issue with insulation and we are looking to raise funds in order to make the building warmer during the winter months such as boilers and radiators.

Andy Worth: A great way of raising funds for the club is by joining the Super Silk Lotto, thank you everyone who continues to support this. Try and get friends and family signed up, its £1 a week and the more people that join, the better.

Andy Worth concluded the forum by thanking everyone at the front table and for all those fans that supported the event and this was met with a very warm round of applause from those within the assembled audience.

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