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Forum

Fans Forum
by Hardy on 29/10/2004

Last night the Club Management Committee and the Supporters Club held an open forum in the clubhouse.

Fans Forum

Last night the Club Management Committee and the Supporters Club held an open forum in the clubhouse to discuss various issues concerning the financing of the club. In the second half of the session, team manager John Still (right) joined the panel to discuss footballing issues.

The following are based on D&RFC's Press Secretary Dave Simpson's notes published on the forum with additional material from my own notes taken at the time.

The meeting started after a delay caused by a clap of thunder and lightening which set the alarms off in the Clubhouse!

To discuss the issues raised further see the Unofficial Forum

Any ideas for raising money should be passed on to Steve Thompson on info@daggers.co.uk or Russell Powis on powisdaggers@ntlworld.com.

Financial Discussion
Dave Andrews (left) started the meeting stating that to put a team on the pitch costs £550,000. As a club, we turn over more than a million a year. He explained that we spent £800,000 of our own money on the ground. We also go a grant of £400,000 on top. As things stand we are looking at loss of £80,000 this year alone. He explained that the players got a good bonus from the cup runs over the past few years and we currently have NO debts. We are still only four points off a play off position at the moment and we have a good young side. He hopes we can make the play offs.

Floor: Why did we get rid of the experienced players?
Steve Thompson: The reason experienced players have left is because the Playing budget has been cut. The younger ones are highly rated by the manager but we are still running a team which costs over £500,000. 

Floor: Can you explain what a ďfull member isĒ?
Dave Andrews: To become a member you apply and pay £50 on top of a season ticket. This gives you a vote at the club AGM. You can apply by writing to the Club Secretary and applications are then approved by the committee. It was unclear whether applications are accepted by default.

Russell Powis explained why the meeting was called. He said that in the past the Supporters Club havenít raised money for the Club and have just run events to break even therefore bringing people into the bars. He suggested that maybe it is now time to start raising money which can go to the Football Club.

Steve Thompson then spoke. He said that besides football we have other costs including rent, bar operating costs, heating, electricity etc. We have never had one person putting money in which works for us at times and sometimes it works against. If we get through on Saturday it will make a huge difference because we donít budget for cup runs. We are going to have a large shortfall so we need to raise extra money. Itís very hard to think up one idea which raise up to £100,000. 

Steve mentioned the Club sponsors including Compass, Glyn Hopkin, the Recorder and Coors brewers. He said if we can think ten ways of raising £5,000 we can make a huge headway into our projected loss. Steve mentioned the Christmas draw with the prize of a Panda car worth £6000 but said it is important that we sell 12,000 tickets to make the money we need. He mentioned the players and Committee selling 100 tickets each and said it would be good for supporters to help sell these.

We still have advertising boards available and if anyone thinks they know any company who might want a board, give the name to Steve and heíll contact them.

The third Executive box is available for 8-10 games for the rest of the season at £500 which includes food and drink. If anyone knows anyone who would like one, contact Steve.

The Club are running a Sportsman's dinner on 3rd December. Norman Hunter is the guest speaker and we can accommodate 200 for the five course dinner. Tickets are £40 each.

On Sunday 19th December we are holding a joint players/supporters disco. There is a buffet and all the players will be in attendance. More details when to hand.

The Club always runs a social night on Christmas and New Years Eve. We encourage families to attend.

Mascots Ė we havenít had so many this year. Itís a great day for the kids and itís doesnít make much money but its an enjoyable day for the family. It was pointed out from the floor that many kids that would like to be Mascots have already got the kit, therefore while it is still a great day, the bulk of the expenditure on kit is wasted. Steve said he'd look in to perhaps offering a discount for kids already with kit, or offering the away kit as an alternative. Another comment from the floor stated that this was fine, except the club did not have kids away shorts and socks in stock. 

The Matchday squad member hasnít been taken up. John Still came up with the idea of a grown up mascot which worked well at Bristol Rovers. It costs £250 which includes the kit, photos etc.

50/50 matchday draw. Itís been running for four years. We currently sell around 200 tickets per game. If anyone wants to volunteer and sell the tickets on a matchday please see Steve. If we can double the sales that will bring an extra couple of thousand pounds a year.

A corporate five a side day will be staged in April on the pitch. Itís really for firms and more details will follow.

Steve Thompson said we are proud to have a supporters club who run a coach to every game. They have suggested that they help raise the money to pay for a players wage. It was suggested that everyone who comes in the ground for one game pay an extra pound if they can afford it. This will be a donation so no VAT needs to be paid. Russell Elmes explained that they looked into a trust but that wasnít viable. 

At Farnborough they have a fund which money is paid regularly by supporters to go into a players wages fund. If supporters want to donate the money from volunteering to do a paid job then the money will be going back into the Club. Someone on the floor said he thought the pound levy was a good idea and anyone going through the gate could get a ticket and maybe that could win them a prize. It was stated by the top table that any extra money coming in would go onto the pitch in the form of players.

Dave Andrews reiterated that the Club have NO debts.

Floor: Why canít we charge for the car park?
Dave Andrews: Itís a members club and not everyone watches football. By the time the players, referees, guests etc turn up and we pay the man to collect the money it becomes a big exercise and the profits become minimal. Dave said we will review it again though. A comment from the floor pointed out that there is someone on the gate already who could collect fees.

Floor: What support do we get from Barking and Dagenham council?
Steve Thompson: We get a rate rebate at the moment worth around £19,000 per year. Itís due for renewal this year and we have to reapply now. 

Floor: Can we hold Car Boot Sales?
Dave Andrews: The council wonít give us permission. He also said itís the only days peace from cars that Victoria Road residents get each week and new wouldnít like to upset them.

Floor: Are we going to look at cutting back the giving away of free tickets to Dagenham United and free programmes?
Steve Thompson: The programmes claimed that are given away free on a matchday include the two teams and referees as well as the boardroom. The sponsors ones are included in the cost of the sponsorship so theyíre not free and the mascots one is also included in the cost. We try to encourage local youth teams to come over and watch us rather than give away blocks of tickets to schools because the teachers donít always look after the children. We do give a lot away to local youth clubs which is a form of advertising. A lot of the youths come back of their own accord for other games. 

As far as Dagenham United, its part of our tie-up with them that they get free terrace tickets each. Internally we regularly review costs including changing suppliers of electricity etc. We donít pay for cleaning items but have a contra deal with Ardleigh support and Steve is a great believer in this. He mentioned Crystal windows who replaced the windows in the club house in return for sponsorship of the West Ham friendly. Weíve never paid a penny for the website and get money paid for the banner adverts in return for advertising. Dave Ward and Glyn Hopkin both successful businessmen have looked over our accounts and ensured we canít save any more money. Our accounts are very detailed and audited and we have regular management Committee meetings. We canít cut any more thatís why we need to bring more in.

Floor: Our gates are dropping and an extra 500 on the gates will give us the money we are short. The poster campaign helps. What is the average gate that we have budgeted on?
Dave Andrews: Weíve budgeted this season on 1300-1400 gates. We cut the playing budget by a third but if we cut it any more we couldnít compete at all in the Conference. John came in with the instructions to build a team. It might not be this season but we will be looking to be in the top three next season with the players we are developing. Making more money available for John will help succeed in this.

Floor: Why wasnít money put away better when we played Norwich and were doing well?
Dave Andrews: Football is a gamble but agreed we should not have put so much money into the football over the past few years. Dave said we are very thankful that we have so many volunteers.

Steve Thompson said when we first got promoted to the Conference we planned to do up the stand. We didnít expect to do so well so quick. We could have won the league and been unable to get promoted so we used the cash reserves to pay for the ground. We paid a lot of money to meet requirements like the turnstiles and toilets. 

Floor: How much on top of the budget did Garry Hill spend?
Dave Andrews: In hindsight we possibly brought in more loan players than we needed. We backed Garry because we were in a position to do that. Garry didnít actually spend all the budget he was first given. We gave him a high budget which included the previous years cup money but the gates dropped so the budget suffered. Programme sales dropped and shop profits were down etc. It was confirmed that both Garry Hill and Mark Stein received settlements when their contracts were cancelled.

Steve Thompson stated that last season's playing budget was set based on his estimation of average crowds around 1800-2000 which was based on reaching the play offs the previous season and having a successful 2003/04. This obviously proved to be over optimistic!

Russell Powis said if anyone has any more ideas to raise money see him in the Club shop or see Steve Thompson. He mentioned the free disco on Saturday night.

Floor: What financial income do we get from West Ham reserves?
Dave Andrews: We get £1,250 per match. The costs to us are just gatemen and stewards and this is very profitable to the club.

Floor: How about setting up a tradesmen's list of people volunteering to do things free of charge.
Dave Andrews: Yes. In the past there were volunteers who painted the ground during the summer which turned into a fun event. We are doing the pitch ourselves during the summer and hiring the equipment.

On the pitch
A break was held then John Still came into the meeting to talk about football

Floor: Discipline on the pitch has been poor this season, why was this?
John Still: It has been a big factor and it would be wrong on me to say Iíve been anything other than disappointed. Iíve spoken to Tony Roberts about Saturday and he canít condone what he did but it was the most bizarre thing that Iíve seen happen in a game. Tony has publicly apologised for the sending off and wanted to attend the meeting to do so in person, but John had said there was no need.

Early in the season the discipline was poor. The two sendings off for Ashley were nothing nasty though and had been put down to that being "Ashley" never less than 100% committed. The others were in a retaliation mode and mostly fruistration, John is confident that the spate of red cards is now over.

John stated that he was friends with the new owner of Farnborough and the frustration on Saturday was also shown by our fans who caused damage to their stand. This damage was later said to have been due to a fan kicking an advertising board in frustration and having his foot go straight through as the board was rotten! John Still said they arenít making a big deal about it and the chairman was just saying that there was frustration all round

Floor: Admiration for the youngsters Johnís brought in but why has he brought Paul Bastock into the Club?
John Still: Firstly over the last 10 years Iíve enjoyed this clubs success despite not being here. Iíve kept in contact with the club and the manager at the time and I do accept your views. I canít please everyone here tonight and all I can do is my best for the interests of Dagenham & Redbridge FC. I have had a letter asking me to sign Daryl Clare recently. I canít do that. I have to do my best for the club and keep within the budget.

Iíve got to find a goalkeeper to play on Saturday within the budget I have. It wasnít easy and I had to make a decision and itís not the right decision for everyone. Iíve signed the best goalkeeper I can with the budget I have. I sympathise with all those who donít agree with it. We are all here to do the best we can for the club. I spoke to the club and I spoke with my staff and I made the decision. If you are unhappy with the decision then I sympathise with you. I was 100% behind the club against Boston three years ago but I have to do what I think is right for this football club. I phoned Paul Bastock and told him Iím in trouble and Iíve got no money but need a goalkeeper for one or two games. I also told him he was going to get himself cup tied. Paul is coming to help us.

Floor: I thought this Club had principals but that seems different now. The statement on the website reads that we will win at all costs and weíve lowered ourselves to Bostonís level.
John Still: I donít see websites and I have never made the statement that we will win at all costs. Iím telling you that Martin Brennan looked me in the eye and said he was not ready to play on Saturday. I have to do something about that and I could ruin a players career by playing him. The players trust me thatís why they come here. The situation has no winners.

Dave Andrews stated that no one was more upset than myself at the Boston saga three years ago. When it was pointed out that Bastock is related to the Malkinson family by marriage Dave stated he was not aware of this, although John Still was. Dave believes no blame can be attached to the individual players who took what Boston offered, it was the club that was at fault.

Floor: Why are we in the Capital league?
John Still: When I arrived we were already in the Capital League but I will be looking at playing in a higher reserve league next year. Most Combination matches are played in the afternoon and we canít do that but I will be looking for better competition for them. 

Floor: Playing Uddin in the midfield v Hereford worked, why don't we do it more?
I donít know Uddins best position. Itís the same with Craig. Iíve got to see how the young players react when they do something unfamiliar, when things go wrong and when things go right for them. If we donít try different things we wonít find out. There are times in game when I believe in my mind it may be best to make a substitution but I have to think again with the youngsters we have at how it will affect them. 

Floor: When John Taylor was here he helped the youngsters. Are we looking to replace him?
John Still: I have two or three players in mind. I am actively exploring avenues of an experienced forward. There are one or two that I am exploring. Iíve only got one throw of the dice and Iíll be doing my best.

Floor: Why are we defending set pieces with eleven men behind the ball?
John Still: I actually started this eleven months ago because Arsenal do it. I spoke to Arsene Wenger after a friendly at Barnet. He said the more people in the box the harder it is to score. Weíre not looking to do anything else just defend the set piece. We arenít conceding goals from corners. I appreciate your opinion and wonít say itís not going to change.

Floor: Music the team run out to sounds like people in torment screaming in hell. 
John Still: What do I know about music? If someone comes up with music that makes us score more goals than we concede then weíll change. From the floor, the theme from Rocky was suggested.

Floor: How bad is Chris Mooreís injury?
John Still: Chris Moore has a groin injury and a knee injury. Neither is too serious and he may be okay Saturday but may not. Weíll see tomorrow or even Saturday. John does not want to risk him doing more damage and being out for a couple of months.

Floor: Why donít we do more passing?
John Still: If you saw our training itís all passing. Some of our better attacking players need the ball at their feet and weíve had to change the style of play now that John isnít here. We do work on that. I havenít brought in tall players because I donít want the ball in the air but players boot in up field when they panic and thatís what weíre working on. I like the back people not to play in their own third. We havenít got it right yet but weíre working on it.

Floor: why didnít we sign Freddy Eastwood?
John Still: I spoke about Freddie two months ago but we canít afford his wages let alone the transfer fee. I spoke to Mark Wright the agent. He wasnít the right type of player I required but I enquired. I also spoke to Steve Claridge but he lives in Portsmouth. Itís a long way to come and I have to do the best I can. I can only use the resources I have.

Floor: Is it not possible to sort something out with the local schools and look at local talent
John Still: We do this thing with Dagenham boys from 8 upwards so we have started that. I have two people watching kids football all the time and oneís already started bringing kids into us. Heís brought in Korel Francis into the reserves from park football. Weíre trying hard to pick up players like Danny Foster from Spurs who are being released by local pro sides and weíll see the benefit in two or three years from that.


 

 

 

 

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