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FANS' FORUM

Brian Caffarey - 6th March 2009

FANS? FORUM ? 5 MARCH 2009

A summary of key points

A well-attended forum on Thursday night, chaired by Adrian Harmes of Southern Counties Radio in a personal capacity, heard Club management and officials respond to a series of questions on ?on the field? and ?off the field? matters. The tone was frank and sober, especially with regard to the Club?s very difficult financial position, but there was a huge determination to do everything possible to avoid relegation and little by way of recrimination. There were heartfelt pleas from Phil Gilchrist and Paul Lorraine to support the team during games, emphasising that criticism during a match is merely harmful to the confidence of a young side.

?On the field? matters

A panel of David Taylor (DT), Phil Gilchrist (PG), Neil Lyne (NL) and Paul Lorraine (PL) responded to questions in the first half of the evening. The main points made were:

Gez Sole?s loan to Ebbsfleet ? very difficult decision; fans? favourite; Woking lad; but inconsistent and perhaps ?stale?, needing a change; not in 16 at the time; likes free role but no real place for that at present; no ?falling out?; allowing him to go on loan freed up some of the budget; had to be season-long loan to provide sufficient financial flexibility: also doubtful if Ebbsfleet would have agreed to a month only; hope he finds his form and helps Ebbsfleet to do damage to our relegation rivals; will come back to the Club at the end of the season and will not hesitate to offer him a contract if that seems the right decision (PG)

Nick Gindre ? another difficult decision; needed games but didn?t want to go out on loan; reservations about whether he was the keeper we needed, therefore brought in other keepers; Danny Knowles has shown his quality already and hope he will be with us next season

Quality of players brought in ? important to look at this ?in the round?, not just focus on individual players, some of whom are no longer at the Club; did not see Tom Denton play beforehand but part of package that brought an England keeper, Simon Eastwood, to the Club; Tom?s record, in terms of goal ratio, stands up to scrutiny; haven?t heard complaints about some other players brought in e.g. Oliver Bozanic and Micah Hyde; large numbers of players being monitored ? over 50, including 20+ strikers ? can?t see them all; have to rely partly on reports from reliable sources; huge amount of effort put in: constant contact with other clubs, Academies, managers, scouts etc, trying to pull in favours; financial position very difficult, though: ?beggars can?t be choosers?; searching out ?local? players is ?work in progress?: has to be lower priority at present (PG, NL and DT)

Financial constraints ? huge credit to PG and NL for coping without complaint in a very difficult situation; could not have worked harder (DT)

Tactics ? have varied formations etc to suit circumstances, players and opposition tactics; would prefer to play 4-4-2 all the time, with two good wingers and two effective strikers but have to use what we?ve got; agree should ?go for it? if 1- 0 down but not necessarily a solution just to throw on an extra striker: if opposition then pull back a player can just serve to clog things up; sometimes better e.g. to push full backs and a midfielder forward (PG)

Scoring goals ? not just responsibility of strikers; set pieces should contribute 10 goals a season, often from defenders; midfield should weigh in too; normally three sessions a week focusing, in different ways, on striking; confidence is the key; finding good strikers is the hardest thing of all; more pressure on defence if don?t score easily: if you get two-goal lead can relax a bit more and play better football; in present circumstances often have to just focus on clearing the ball out of defence (NL and PL)

Academy ? hugely important to Club?s future; watch games; talk to Graham Baker; Dan Sintim has made outstanding start but Academy players aren?t the answer to our current plight (PG)

Morale ? high but can only really enjoy ourselves if we?re winning (PG and PL)

Discipline ? too many bookings but refereeing standards very low; want fewer ?silly? bookings but wouldn?t mind bookings from one or two players if it signifies that they?re getting stuck in! (PG)

Captaincy ? want everyone to lead on and off the field, by example if they can?t be vocal; if can?t lead should follow someone who can (PG); team not vocal enough on the pitch but can?t expect young players to perform that role (PL)

Good enough to avoid relegation? ? ?yes, undoubtedly? but very tough; 11 games to go; mini-league of clubs in peril; aim to be 16th; targets for each game; players know that they have to step up the mark; want to do well; no player goes out on the pitch wanting to have a bad day (PG and NL) no lack of effort but some have ?off? days; privilege to play for the club; club in right hands: PG works tremendously hard and is passionate about the Club; training and preparation for games ?spot on?; players need to stand up and be counted (PL)

Injuries ? Colin Miles and Goma Lambu are back in contention; Wilfried Domoraud 50/50 for Saturday; Paolo Vernazza ?out?; other players at various stages of recovery: Bradley Quamina another week, Delano Sam-Yorke uncertain; Tom Hutchinson, knee OK but other ?niggles? to sort out; Joe Magunda and Danny Bunce, both ?metartasal? cases, weeks yet and possibly not back before end of season, Abdou El Kholti, rib injury (PG, reading from list so that he could remember them all!)

Contracts for next season ? nothing can be done until budget sorted out; signing PL will be a high priority! (DT and PG)

Fans ? very grateful for tremendous support (despite criticisms of response at Stevenage); realise has been a very disappointing season but have to stick together; great support too from the Board and everyone at the Club (PG); hearing your support really does make a big difference to the players (PL)

?Off the field? matters

 

A panel of David Taylor (DT), James Aughterson (JA), Geoff Chapple (GC), Jane Spong (JS) and Martin Leary (Supporters? Club, ML) responded to questions.

Share scheme ? disappointing response, not helped by intervening economic downturn; not a criticism ? realise times are difficult ? but had hoped more shares would be taken up; 32 of previous 60 shareholders reinvested the money that Chris Ingram paid for those shares; hope a few more will still do so; 60 new shareholders, bringing total shareholders to 95, including the Supporters? Club and all Directors; income of ?17k next year, but ?new? money from capital contributions swallowed up by costs (JA)

Finances ? hugely difficult and has got worse month by month; football-wide, not just confined to Woking FC; went to Chris Ingram in January: he made a final contribution; won?t go into administration but will be very difficult over the summer and face a very large reduction in budget next season; uncertainty over Setanta; tribute to PG for mature and responsible way he has coped with uncertainty over budget; club will survive even if we get relegated: strong and loyal fan base (JA)

New buyer? ? a lot of time spent on trying to find a new buyer but most clubs for sale; not confident but will keep trying; unless a number of smaller investors come forward, will have to go part-time (or mainly part-time) next season; part-time not a disaster: look at e.g. Histon (DT)

Planning application ? ?holding? planning application not submitted by end of year, as mooted; Chris Ingram will be asked about this and other matters in ?end of season? interview in matchday programme (JA and Brian Caffarey)

Volunteering ? Club could save a lot of money if more people were willing to help e.g. doing things around the ground in summer. Carol Hack volunteered to be the Volunteers Co-ordinator for the Club, identifying what skills and services the Club needs and seeking volunteers to match those needs (JA and Claire Hack)

Commercial matters ? very difficult climate but great response; looking for long-term partners; on-line shop ?on hold? while discussions take place with potential new kit supplier, who would service shop and sell goods to boys? clubs etc in the area; match sponsorship and advertising boards over-priced; boards not paid for will be removed (GC)

Community work ? enormous progress made, with a whole range of community groups now involved with the Club; important grant applications made, especially on the disability front, but very time-consuming process; terrific return for very limited staffing (equivalent to one and a half people) (JS)

Admission prices ? consulting about structure for next season, including possibility of ?one price? for anywhere in the ground; please pass on your views (Peter Jordan)

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