By paddysboyz_jr
Friday 08 Jul 2016 22:25:00
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Date: Thursday 7th July 2016
Time: 7p.m - 9.p.m.

On Thursday evening, approximately 100-150 people attended the kit launch / 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.

Andy Worth provided a brief welcome and introduction to everyone to attending the event before passing over the microphone to Andy Scott as he prepared to do a speech about our new home and away shirt suppliers.

Andy (Scott) praised the fantastic turnout and reminisced that it had been 3 years since we were here launching the Carbrini kit as well as appointing John as our new manager, and placed on record his gratitude for the contribution of JD Sports during their time with the club. Andy then spoke of his delight that he was able to introduce Umbro International as the new kit sponsors on a 3 year deal and spoke of how great the new kit looked.

Andy then went on to give a brief insight into the history of Umbro, mentioning its founder Harold Humphreys and how Harold sold the brand around the world in Brazil and Mexico as well as talking about fellow Silkmen fans who have worked for the company in Macclesfield including David Harrison and his father Geoff Scott. Andy also goes on to mention how his Nana sewed the badges onto the famous 1966 England World Cup shirts and the badges of the Manchester United European Cup winners' shirts of 1968 which were both supplied by Umbro!

Andy then introduced Chris Holroyd (wearing the home shirt), Danny Rowe (wearing the away shirt) and Ritchie Branagan (wearing the goalkeepers' jersey) and they were greeted with a warm round of applause in the McIlroy Suite! The shirts also revealed that the main kit sponsor for the forthcoming season would be the local and legendary furniture store, Arighi Bianchi. Andy joked that this was a dream come true for Danny Rowe and his dream of being a model which was received with laughter from around the suite. Andy Scott then went on to praise an avid Silkmen fan, Harry Stokes for his passion for the club and how he helped to conduct a half-time team talk at Boreham Wood last season! Andy went on to say that he was delighted to offer the first replica shirt of the new season to Harry as a way of saying thank you which Harry received with the name ‘Stokes' on the back of the shirt along with the number ‘46'. Harry took the microphone and does his own rendition of ‘We're going to win the league'!

A representative of Umbro was then introduced to the crowd in the McIlroy Suite.

Umbro representative: Delight was expressed at Umbro's opportunity to become involved with the Silkmen with recognition of the close links between Umbro and the town of Macclesfield. It was noted that a number of teams are associated with Umbro such as Everton, West Ham United, Derby County, PSV Eindhoven and nearby Salford City. Macclesfield Town FC was described as a club with heart and soul and there was a clear indication of hopes for a long and successful association with the Silkmen with the strapline ‘Umbro's coming home'.

Andy then passed the microphone to Nick Bianchi, a director of Arighi Bianchi who spoke of his great pleasure for his company to be the main kit sponsors of Macclesfield Town Football Club, noting that both businesses have a history and a responsibility within the town of Macclesfield. Nick then spoke of the fun and enjoyment that both his family (sister and niece) and himself had got from attending matches; fondly recalling the 7.30a.m journeys to Fratton Park and the bottles of Prosecco that were drank before getting to Sandbach which was greeted with laughter from the audience.

A presentation then took place with Macclesfield Town F.C. chairman Mark Blower presenting framed shirts to Nick (Bianchi) and Steven Smith on behalf of SK Distribution. This concluded the kit launch and fans were then given an opportunity to purchase the 2016/17 Silkmen kit before the fans forum got under way.


Present: John Askey (Manager), Steve Watson (Assistant Manager) Mark Blower (Chairman), Andy Worth (Compere), Robert Heys (General Manager)

Andy Worth introduced the start of the fans forum and spoke of what a great turnout it was for this evening's event and for thanking those that had bought the new replica shirts. Andy then welcomed Steve Watson and Robert Heys to the football club as well as introducing ‘Sir' John Askey and Mark Blower and commented on the ‘feel good factor' that was currently around the club!

Question 1: 'What is the current financial background of the football club and will we be able to strengthen the squad?'

Mark Blower: ‘The club was in a difficult situation 2/3 years ago however times have changed where revenue is growing and the debts have improved dramatically, not all of them have gone but we have a plan to deal with it and now we want to evolve in the community. In footballing terms, 2/3 years ago, we were 3-0 down but now I would say we're 1-0 up! Thanks to the generosity of the volunteers that we have at this ‘community' based football club I now have an idea about how we could have an income going into the playing budget. Andy Worth brought up this subject on Wraggs to Riches and was received with a good response and I will come back to this later in the evening in terms of an idea I have about generating money into the playing budget as we aspire to get back into the Football League'.

Question 2: ‘Do you think we will win the league as we need that money?'

John Askey: ‘Every year I think we can win the league and I hope to be sitting here next season in League 2'.

Question 3: ‘What is the latest in terms of the squad for the forthcoming season?'

John Askey: ‘Currently we have 14 players signed up and we expect Danny Whitaker to sign tomorrow (8/7/16). Normally I would be shouting at Mark Blower at this point of the season as we would have no players signed up so I'm not used to being in this position with so many signed up already; this is the strongest we've been! Now I feel we need two more midfielders and two more forwards, we are going to struggle to replace Kristian Dennis and we've had good forwards in the past in terms of Scott Boden and Connor Jennings though I'm happy with what we've got and if we all perform, then we could match anyone.'

Question 4: ‘This is a question for you Steve (Watson); what are you going to bring to the club?'

Steve Watson: ‘Firstly I would like to say that I'm delighted to be joining the football club! I've lived in the area for 16 years and known Andy Scott for 15 years through the school that our children went to! This is a great football club and I've got to know Nick (Bianchi), people from Umbro, the chairman and the players who are an amazing group! I don't think the players know how good they can be; it perhaps shows a lack of confidence so it's up to the likes of me, John Askey and Byron Jenkins to instil that belief in them and I'll work with these players on a one to one basis, bringing along my own experience! You deserve a successful football club and that is what we aim to bring.'

Question 5: 'What will we be seeing through the pre-season friendlies, any potential new players?'

John Askey: ‘Throughout the season, you are always getting trialists coming along and when you get the right player, you hope we can sign them.'

Steve Watson: ‘I've spoken to my contacts about loans as people know we play the right way and want to send players here! We play with a high energy and we're a progressive football team.'

Question 6: ‘What is the situation with Football in the Community and our links with All Hallows, will we see a youngster coming through in the future?'

Mark Blower: 'There is a desire to get new football in the area through links with the Community Sports Trust and All Hallows and in September 2016, we are launching Project 21 with the money of the Richard Butcher Foundation which will promote youth and junior football! It is a Macclesfield Town setup where children from the ages of 6-16 and then from the ages of 16-21 will be able to come and enjoy their football here as well as the facilities and we hope it will grow from there! Hopefully one or two will come through this system and make it through to the first team.'

Question 7: ‘Midweek games and postponed games are normally arranged for a Tuesday night, is there an alternative of playing on a Wednesday, especially if Manchester United or Manchester City are playing on the same night?'

Mark Blower: ‘As you may have seen when the fixtures were announced yesterday (6/7/16), it has been scheduled for us to play Chester and Wrexham on Tuesday evenings. Both teams need to be happy when choosing alternative dates and there are not many time slots in the calendar! Every single occasion we are looking at the best for the football club and we will make changes when we can.'

Question 8: 'Who will be the club captain for the forthcoming season?'

John Askey: ‘Andy Halls. It was going to be Danny Whitaker but he struggled to keep the armband on so he will be staying as vice-captain.' This comment was greeted with raucous laughter.

Question 9: 'We normally offer out 1 year contracts to the squad. Is it not possible to offer longer contracts to the younger players who are presumably on a lower wage?'

Mark Blower: ‘Players like Paul Lewis and Dan Cowan were on 44 week contracts in the past. It was sensible to do that then, but now we are more stable, we can start to think about longer term deals. Players have left in the past for more money at other clubs but it's not just about contracts; it's about the environment and the coaching that you have at the football club'.

Question 10: ‘What's the latest on season ticket sales?'

Mark Blower: ‘Last year we sold around 630 season tickets and this year we are around 450 season tickets. Obviously you get that influx when the ‘early bird' deal is on though we are behind at this current stage compared to last year which has surprised me as we are stronger now and have more visibility as to where the club's going but there is still time however.'

Question 11: 'What are your views of the club (to Rob Hays) since arriving here in your new role?'

Rob Heys: ‘I have been here for about 2 months now and there is fantastic warmth around the club. It goes to show what teamwork can achieve with examples such as Leicester City, Wales and Iceland and the volunteers here are fantastic and keep the club going! There will be ups and down throughout the season but we will all still be here talking about the game in the bar afterwards.'

Question 12: ‘Are there any plans to get those season ticket holders back who haven't yet renewed?'

Mark Blower: ‘Hopefully we will see a surge in the next few weeks as the season grows nearer but we will be talking to those people to try and get them back.'

This person from the audience asking the above question then stated that he was one of the late ones to sign up for a season ticket but was surprised that he could only pay in cash as he doesn't carry that kind of money around; hasn't used a chequebook for some time and he doesn't have a Paypal account either. Mark Blower was surprised as to why this person had experienced difficulties when wanting to pay by card, and will look into this matter.

Question 13: ‘My mate at Port Vale makes use of offers such as mini season tickets. Can we do this sort of thing?'

Mark Blower: ‘We have done something similar previously in terms of mini season tickets etc! We are hoping to improve communication and pass on any information as much as we can as I found out that we currently have 6,000 people on our database.'

Question 14: ‘This is a question for John Askey, what are your views on the pitch now and do you think it will stand up to the winter conditions?'

John Askey: ‘The pitch has been re-laid and the weather has been perfect for the grass to grow and hopefully we'll get the right person in place to be the groundsman. In terms of the reason I have given Andy Halls the captain's armband, I decided to give him some responsibility at the end of last season and he stood up to it! Please feel free to ask why I do certain things on the playing field on match days such as taking off the best player for example and I'll answer them honestly. I have brought Steve Watson in as he is straight, honest and has good contacts.'

Question 15: ‘What is the formation for next season, do we have any plans?'

John Askey: ‘It depends on the personnel, how people are playing and whatever is working. In training we normally adopt the 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 system! We did try with 3 at the back in the F.A. Trophy last season against Ashton United and we were soon 2-0 down so we do like to try and keep it simple.'

Question 16: 'Craig Ross was brought into the club yesterday and how will he fare as our number 1 goalkeeper?'

John Askey: ‘There isn't a number 1 as of yet, it's all about competition! There was good competition between Jalal and Ritchie last season with Jalal's experience showing through in the end but Ritchie did have a good end to last season.'

Question 17: ‘What was the reason for the downturn in form last season?'

Steve Watson: ‘There were a couple of things, in the New Year we lost Paul Lewis and Danny Whitehead to injury, plus we had a small squad with long trips to Truro and Torquay and we couldn't bring in new players! There was a dip in form and confidence and we felt that we needed to get back out on the pitch and seize that and I may sound biased but I thought we were the best team in the league for those last 12 games and I just wish the season would start tomorrow and that the pre-season would end tomorrow though as long as we get the right characters in.'

Question 18: ‘Why don't we kick the ball further instead of playing the ball back?'

Steve Watson: ‘In training we are always going forward. As you would have seen recently with England, there are confidence issues with the younger players! At this club we always want to take that chance and instil confidence in them and if we get onto a winning run then who knows where it will go.'

Question 19: ‘Steve (Watson), in terms of tactics and set pieces, when you were a player at Newcastle United, you used to do a somersault at throw-ins as people may have seen on YouTube. Will you be teaching the players that?'

Steve Watson: ‘The biggest laugh you will get is seeing me trying to do it now! I was a gymnast as a kid and would try to do it on the beach! Of the current squad I think the only player who could do it is Rowey (Danny Rowe) and I could teach the players by video but I couldn't show it in person now.' Steve's response is met with much laughter.

Andy Worth then passed on the microphone to Mark Blower as he wished to talk about his plans to raise extra money for the playing budget.

Mark Blower: ‘Fundraising was instigated last season with the help of Andy Worth and Tony Brown. We want to be a self-sufficient club and put a budget forward. It would be great if we could raise additional funds for John Askey which we've had through the Crowdfunder and the anonymous benefactor. I don't want to see this as a begging bowl, rather a push forward and we are going to call this new initiative the 'Silkmen Campaign Fund 2016/17' and we aim to achieve the ‘Holy Grail' as Andy Worth calls it! We aim to raise £100,000 and the anonymous benefactor has put in a substantial amount towards this goal! You would have your own ‘token/ticket' which could be bought for £50 and if we make the Football League then we would double your amount so you would get a return. 68% on the Wraggs to Riches site voted that they would support such an initiative.'

Andy Worth: ‘What a great idea and how many of you here tonight would support this idea with a show of hands?'

Around 80% of those present then raised their hands!

Mark Blower: ‘The token/ticket would be personalised and would be available from the club until the opening game of the season against Torquay United on Saturday 6th August 2016.'

Question 20: 'Why should this initiative stop on 6th of August 2016?'

Mark Blower: 'We just saw the start of the season as a stopping point but this could be reviewed.'

Andy Worth then introduced Bernie Rickman and Marie Grundy to talk about the Silkmen Supporters Trust (SST) and Super Silk Lotto respectively.

Bernie Rickman: ‘The SST has been generating funds for the last 10 years and has helped to create additional facilities to the football ground! We hope that people will renew their membership with the SST as well as attracting new members in the process.'

Marie Grundy: ‘The Super Silk Lotto started around 18 months ago and has helped to raise funds! It is only £1 a week and currently we have 278 members and we are giving £500 a month to the football club! We are now going to provide funds to Helen and Paul Bona in terms of catering in the McIlroy Suite and we have recently given two cheques of £1,000 to the football club! In total we have raised £15,000 so far and if we can get up to 499 members and beyond then we can start to think about increasing the prize fund! Any support would be gratefully received.'

Andy Worth: ‘Don't forget as well that the lotto helps fantastic local charities such as Ollie's Army (current charity partner) and its previous charity partner (David Lewis Centre). I would also like to tell you all about the "The McIlroy Years" event taking place in the McIlroy Suite on Friday November 18th 2016 where Sammy McIlroy, Gil Prescott and many of the squad members during Sammy's time at the club will be in attendance! Tickets are priced at £20 each with a two course meal included so why don't we pack out the McIlroy Suite and make it a night to remember? Information on when and where you can buy your tickets will be provided over the coming weeks and months.'

Question 21: ‘Are the Stoke City under 21s still going to be playing at the Moss Rose next season?'

Mark Blower: ‘Two years ago we started up this agreement with Stoke City under 21s. In the first year they played 8 games at the Moss Rose and in the second year they played 4-5 games here. Stoke City under 21's have decided to play their games at the Britannia Stadium in the future so we got a thank you but they will not be doing it again. It was not as successful as we originally thought it was going to be.'

Question 22: ‘Why couldn't we get a big club reserve team in the pre-season friendlies?'

John Askey: 'The big clubs go abroad now due to financial reasons and they just play their under 21 teams which is not much benefit to us as they don't provide the same sort of contest as to what we would be up against in the league. Maybe Steve Watson will get Newcastle United for next season.' This was greeted with much laughter.

Andy Worth: ‘Thanks for a great evening and have a very safe journey home.'

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