FAN'S FOCUS | News From Tuesday Evening's Meeting

On Tuesday evening, Walsall Football Club hosted a 'Fan's Focus' event at the Banks's Stadium. A brief run-down of events is below.
On Tuesday evening, Walsall Football Club hosted a 'Fan's Focus' event at the Banks's Stadium. A brief run-down of events is below.

There are no hard feelings towards former manager Dean Smith following his departure to Brentford. The club felt there was little that could be done once a manager wants to speak to another club.

Dean Smith deserves credit for parts of the 'football philosophy', but it was not a one man thing, and several other members of staff were involved in making it a success.

Head Coach Sean O'Driscoll was an early favourite for the job, any other candidates were ruled out in the early stages. Sean met with Dan Mole, then the directors, then Jeff Bonser, and all agreed that he was the best man for the job, his ideas suited both short-term and long-term ideals.

The supporters are praised for sticking with the club, and it is accepted that the lack of communication during the managerial change was a mistake.

The players can and do learn much from the new gaffer, but must also be able to self manage, something that has been mentioned before.

The club did receive offers for players during January but all were turned down as there is a desire to stop the club being seen as a soft target when it comes to transfer dealings. Said offers were never going to be considered, there was a firm understanding that all players would remain at the club.

Several players are out of contract in the summer. O'Driscoll continues to assess his squad ahead of potential promotion, something that is not helping the negotiation stages. Obviously players will be keen to know if we'll be in the championship before agreeing terms.

The club will have more money to play with if they do achieve promotion, but this will also make the players want more money to remain. The club will make provisions in case of relegation almost as soon as they secured promotion. Important to make certain that the club remains financially secure.

O'Driscoll has money to spend, more likely for wages rather than flat fees, and is always looking to improve the squad, and have several people in and out on trial.

There was praise for goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, and first-choice Neil Etheridge also praised, as he and his teammates grow in confidence game-by-game.

A point is raised whether the club should employ dedicated attack and defence coaches. It is said to be purely upto O'Driscoll, although there are clear financial and logistical issues to consider.

The club's social media output is praised. Happy that supporters enjoy the various videos that are released. All goes to putting the club on a bigger platform, bringing more eyes to the team.

Big Centre TV has allowed the club to be seen by more people, also allowing an in-depth look at behind the scenes activities.

The club are considering various ways to get more people through the turnstiles, and have set a higher 'Early Bird' target than usual, and they hope to get over 6,000 in more regularly.

The club hope that with the squad being kept together, and performances improving, supporters who are currently not attending games will see that there are positives, and may consider returning to watch matches.

Nickelodeon's new 'Nick Kicks' TV show was also discussed. Walsall FC were keen to drive the show forward, and think that with a few tweaks there is potential for it to be a success.

The club is hoping to attract more younger supporters through the turnstiles, but are aware that there are several factors to consider, such as attention span.

A singing section is also suggested as a possible way to improve the atmosphere on matchdays. But the club are not keen on enforcing specific sections for singing, wants fans to be able to sit where they choose and avoid a 'plastic' atmosphere.

Standing sections also brought up, but the usual answer still applies, all depends on league regulations along with new insurance and safety certificates, becomes a bit of a red tape issue.

Dan Mole discusses ticket queues ahead if matches, hope fans can turn up earlier to avoid congestion. There are no plans for contactless turnstiles, the cost for them and cash turnstiles outway the benefits.

Catering was also discussed, some supporters unhappy with the quality of food. The introduction of chips in more stands would still require further insurance and improvements,something that is not likely to happen in the short-term.

Policing costs continue to come down, the club and West Midlands Police work closely to solve any issues.

The away stand redevelopment is still a possibility, but the club must be in the Championship to make it financially feasible.

The club are happy with the current state of the pitch at Banks's Stadium but will be assessing it later in the month. It has come a long way since the issues that it used to have.

The club are happy with their Essington Training Ground, a supporter mentions Burton Albion using the St George's Park facility, but is reminded that the Brewers have to pay for it. It is also mentioned that the training ground being local helps to avoid too many long drives for the squad.

The backroom staff are praised as the best the club has ever had. To lose a first-team coach would be as bad as losing a player at this stage.

The club website is discussed, the contract runs for another year, the club will continue to use social media to get its message across while the Football League look for another supplier. Clubs are to seek assurances as the current setup is labelled a disaster.

Media department are praised, the positivity surrounding the club is helping them to push more information out, could be harder if the team wasn't performing.

Jeff Bonser's return to home games is mentioned. Dan Mole is happy that the Chairman is back enjoying the club's performances.

Troy Deeney's sell-on clause is mentioned. The club continue to have a stake in his future. The only way the club won't see any money is if he leaves Watford on a free transfer.

As with transfers, the club aren't keen to speculate on contracts as different players have different circumstances.

The club are not keen on doing deals on Transfer Deadline Day,they have a month to complete deals and think many clubs make poor last minute decisions. Sky is also mentioned as WFC see Deadline Day as a TV show.

Several other subjects were also covered, and we hope to have another update soon.
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