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FANS' FORUM | Details from Monday Evening's Q&A

9:29 pm Monday, 1 August 2016
On Monday evening Walsall Football Club Chief Executive Stefan Gamble and Secretary Daniel Mole took part in a Fans' Forum event ahead of this weekend's season opening Sky Bet League One clash with AFC Wimbledon. Below is a brief breakdown of what was discussed.
On Monday evening Walsall Football Club Chief Executive Stefan Gamble and Secretary Daniel Mole took part in a Fans' Forum event ahead of this weekend's season opening Sky Bet League One clash with AFC Wimbledon. Below is a brief breakdown of what was discussed.

Club Director Daniel Mole discussed the club's replica kit, and admitted his disappointment at the current supply issues, revealing that despite the design being signed-off in February, they may not be on sale for supporters until mid-August.

Dan went on to confirm that the club have an option to end their current deal with JD Sports at the end of this season, all signs seem to be pointing to the club taking up that option.
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When asked about the summer of change at the club... Stefan Gamble went on to discuss the 'abnormally high' number of players being out-of-contract at the end of last season, and admitted that Dean Smith leaving resulted in many negotiations pausing. The short tenure of Sean O'Driscoll and the club's Play-Off exploits also proved to be an issue, but Jon Whitney was praised for his swift action in the transfer market.
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Gamble confirmed that the club rejected several offers for players in January as they sought to keep the squad together in a bid to continue their push for promotion.
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Tom Bradshaw's transfer request was also discussed, it was noted that his desire to leave didn't result in clubs coming in with lower bids. Bradshaw wanted Championship football, and sought to get a deal done, regardless of the wages he may have been set to receive.
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A supporter asked for further information on new recruit Andreas Makris... Stefan Gamble said that the Cyprus international, who following an assessment by Jon Whitney, will not be fit enough to be selected against Wimbledon at the weekend, has plenty of potential.
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Stefan Gamble then answered a question regarding the club's frequent 'undisclosed' transfers, and insisted that it is nothing sinister, simply to protect commercial interests.
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Gamble discussed the departure of Sean O'Driscoll, and admitted that while the ex-Liverpool coach was a good candidate, and impressed during the interview process, it was felt he wasn't taking the club in the right direction, and a change was needed.
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Gamble also discussed transfer rumours, urging supporters not to believe all they read in the papers. But we think, without putting words in his mouth, that he'd urge fans to read Bescot Banter on a thrice daily basis!
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The club don't have any official 'feeder' deals in place but are open to working with teams if and when required.
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Daniel Mole discussed the club's recruitment, revealing that there is a scouting system that looks at players from several leagues and even other club's academies. John Ward does a lot of work with the development side of the club, and also keeps track of any potential new recruits.
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When asked why the club voted in favour of the controversial EFL Trophy proposals... Stefan Gamble said that as well as the increased solidarity payments the competition was sold to them as a one-year pilot to save the dying tournament. It was also noted that many teams were in favour of allowing the competition to end.

The new set up is not a tester to allow U21s to integrate into our system, and the club would still veto any vote on Under 21s clubs joining the English Football League.

The club are disappointed that West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers were not in our group, and it was also noted that there wasn't enough time to consult supporters.

Dan Mole understands supporters' frustrations, admitting his disappointment at the clubs that ended up joining the competition, but insisted that fans still have the power as boycotts are likely.

The previous competition was struggling to create interest as broadcaster Sky Sports often decided against taking its full allocation of games as viewing figures were poor.
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The club continue to target promotion to the Championship, and there is scope for further additions to the squad. Although it will take time for all of the new signings to gel, it is strongly believed that the squad is a good one, with promotion being a realistic ambition.
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The club will continue to try and produce high quality players through it's youth system, insisting that their aim isn't to win things, but rather improve as individuals and as a team.

The fact that bigger clubs are keen for their players to join us and develop is a ringing endorsement of the system that has been created.
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With twenty-seven professional players in the squad, Jon Whitney was praised for his work to replace the club's departing players, his enthusiasm along with the club's growing reputation within the game helped fill the squad quickly.
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All of the players who departed were offered improved contracts,with negotiations going on for upto a year. But, following a Play-Off reaching campaign, the players had more clubs seeking to acquire their services.
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A question about the club's level of communication with supporters, especially when it comes to transfers... The club will continue to ignore most of the Twitter speculation, as it is felt that it would be wrong to conduct business in public. Great steps have been made over recent years, but the club will seek to have all of the facts in place before commenting.
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Walsall Council are praised for their work, as they are always 'very supportive' in any applications the club have submitted.

There are no ongoing talks regarding the freehold, as there are no investors seeking to buy it at the moment.

Many different options considered, including mortgaging, as the club seek to make regular improvements. 
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Season ticket sales have increased by 25%, so get ready for a new neighbour at the Banks's... The club's 'free football' for Under 18s scheme is mentioned as they believe that the club will reap the benefits for year to come with families 'ingrained' in Walsall FC.
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The new loan system is discussed, the new format is a welcome change as parent clubs can no-longer recall players mid-agreement, giving Walsall the opportunity to fully integrate their loanees without the risk of them suddenly returning home.

Walsall provide accommodation for loaned players. Sleeping bags in the Bonser Suite?
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The club sometimes struggle to agree ticketing terms with other clubs as the opposition can seek to give the bear minimum allocation without discussion of prices.
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The club's decision to ban outside food is considered to be the common sense approach. Some situations are allowed but the club hope fans will buy and consume items at the stadium - More information will be published in due course.
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The often busy period ahead of kick off at Banks's Stadium was discussed. Supporters are urged to arrive early and avoid the queues at the ticket office.
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The FA pay the club a facility fee then taking a share of the gate money for the recent England Under 17s matches and the upcoming Under 21s clash with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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The club do seek to play bigger sides during pre-season and hope for increased competition, but along with the fact that many Premier League sides are on international tours, the fees requested are often unrealistic. Crowds for the recent games were disappointing, but the team benefited from the playing time.
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The club still has active sell-on clauses, but names will not be discussed. The club have a good record when it comes to released and retained, not an exact science, but most of the players who are not kept don't seem to rise above the club.
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This season's budget is bigger than last season's following the team's progression to the Play-Offs. But an increase in matchday attendance would make a huge difference to the club.
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Several other topics were also discussed, including;

Stadium improvements will not happen until attendances increase on a consistent basis.

A 'Meet the Manager' event will be held soon.

The seasonal games being away from the Banks's Stadium, with the possible increased attendances going to the opposition.


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