Woking Football Club, The Laithwaite Community Stadium, Kingfield, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9AA01483 772470
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Brian Caffarey - 19th July 2007

FANS? FORUM ? 19 JULY 2007

A summary of the main points

BBC Southern Counties Radio hosted a fans? forum at Kingfield on 19 July 2007. A large audience at the Club heard Chris Ingram (Chairman), David Taylor (Director), Andy Morgan (Commercial Manager), Colin Lippiatt (Technical Director of Football), Frank Gray (Manager, pictured) and Giuseppe Sole (Player) answer questions. The event was broadcast live on BBC Southern Counties Radio and over the internet. The programme will be repeated.

The meeting was in two halves, with Frank Gray (FG), Colin Lippiatt (CL) and Giuseppe Sole (GS) answering questions on football matters. Chris Ingram (CI), David Taylor (DT) and Andy Morgan (AM) then responded on ?off the field? matters.

The main points raised were as follows.

Football matters

? FG ? had not returned to training too late or started games too soon: risk of injuries (only Jay Gasson really) but games get players match fit
? FG ? looking for a second keeper; Aaron Howe had been released because, at that stage, FG wanted someone more experienced. But FG had now decided that Nick Gindre would be his number one keeper. Aaron had been invited back but in the meantime had gone part-time. Agreed Joe Welsh (on in the second half at Maidenhead) had played well. Joe had been invited back for training but was also having trials with other clubs
? FG ? prefer to play the game on the ground; like to entertain and be entertained; but need to ?mix it? and primary aim is to win games; ideally pass the ball around and win
? FG ? not convinced by ?lack of experience? argument. What is ?experience?? Doesn?t equate with age. Has got young players but some of them have plenty of experience. CL ? have had older players in the past picking up their wages and playing in the ?comfort zone?. Agree with FG that we want players with hunger and passion. FG/CL/GS ? have got great team spirit at Kingfield
? FG ? favour 3-4-2-1 formation: has lot of flexibility
? FG ? will be tough on dissent and retaliation; both a waste of time. CL ? can set up ?little committees? of players to get ?buy in? from team
? FG ? don?t intend to criticise players in public. GS ? public criticisms by manager last season did affect some players: saps players? confidence
? CL ? major adjustment moving from management to Technical Director. Everyone being very open and honest. Have told FG and Gerry Murphy that they must say if they feel he is treading on their toes. Believe that Phil Ledger and he have given great support to management team so far. Delighted to be back at the Club; have great passion for Woking. FG ? speak frequently to CL; welcome his advice and support; great asset; don?t foresee problems
? FG ? came to Woking because it?s a club with a huge potential and can fulfil his ambitions; CL ? thought it important for Club to have a manager with whom Board and fans could feel some affinity, who wasn?t arrogant or ?cocky?
? FG ? would ask fans to be patient; won?t achieve success over night; laying good foundations. Don?t believe in making predictions about league placing
? FG ? have been impressed by number of the Academy players, including David Shin. CL ? Academy vitally important; great work by Graham Baker and colleagues; future for clubs like Woking lies in integrating home-grown players into first team; massive interest from Board and Club in youth, including fantastic community work (plaudits to the Football in the Community team); believe will see young players progress this year.
? FG ? no reserve side this season: squad too small; other ways of getting match practice e.g. arranging friendlies if necessary
? GS ? reluctant to accept criticism of low work-rate! Might have played too many games last season and become a bit jaded. Fit and raring to go now.

Off the pitch

? CI ? recent comments in the Woking News and Mail were not blackmail; just setting out the facts. Repeated figures for losses in recent years. Club spends ?1.5m but only has an income of ?1m. Has put over ?2m into the Club (considerably more if you include costs relating to proposed development). Said right at the outset would cease funding in three years? time. Now into fourth year. Has got to stop: Club has either got to develop new income streams through redevelopment of the ground or live within reduced means. Thought latter would probably mean Club sinking two divisions lower unless someone else pumped money in.
? CI ? believes ?vibes are quite good? for achieving plans. Councillors don?t want Club to fail: lot of support for Club. Club contributes an enormous amount to community. (DT- plans to expand community work, including considering setting up girls? academy.) ?Private? meeting with Council on 20 July to set out facts etc. Meeting in early September to focus on finance. Then plans have to go in. Great deal of work done with Council officers already but Councillors have final say. CI is willing to put in ?1.5m towards flood prevention work as part of the deal. No criticism of Council: have got their job to do, but delays are frustrating and cost money. Aim would be to start work in January.
? CI ? unwilling to give details of proposed development but well known that the key element is a large stand to replace old stands etc, with conference/banqueting facilities, offices etc; presentations will be given to fans as soon as the plans go to Council
? CI ? confirmed that he would continue to finance the Club, if ?go ahead? given for redevelopment, until work completed
? AM ? talking to 30 or 40 companies about sponsorship; positive responses; four or five new companies now on board; hopes to add another 10 or so in the coming weeks. AM very committed to Woking. (DT ? very enthusiastic about Seafare deal to provide catering in main stand!)
? AM ? Setanta deal very good for BSP clubs; first Kingfield televised game will be on 4 October when Farsley Celtic are the visitors
? AM ? already involving FG and Gerry Murphy in marketing the Club and will be doing more
? AM ? about 400 season tickets sold so far, about the same as last season. Expecting more junior/student tickets to be sold in next few weeks: terrific deal for youngsters. Marketing to 40plus schools/colleges in next 10 days
? DT ? enormous ?vote of thanks? due to CI for saving the Club and pushing forward with redevelopment plans. Club will survive whatever happens but optimistic that redevelopment will be agreed. Administration would mean loss of jobs
? CI ? still believes that it is right to separate owner from day-to-day running of Club but felt had to resume chairmanship of Club when John Buchanan left: everything so intertwined at this time
? AM ? will talk to Council/Leisure Centre about lack of convenient parking for fans
? CI ? ?vision? is to get plans through, make the Club stable and then push on for promotion to the Football League.

20 July 2007
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