Chairman Shahid Azeem has answered your questions in the second instalment of our Ask The Board feature – if you have anything you would like to ask, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer questions as soon as possible.
Why are there still so many stewards positioned along the North Stand? We don’t have any more stewards than necessary. We have to comply with our Safety Advisory Group guidelines – set by groups including Hampshire Police, the Fire Brigade and Rushmoor Borough Council – which state that we have to have a steward at every entrance and exit to the North Stand.
At Woking, I was charged the same price to stand or sit. Is this simplification of the pricing worth a try? I think they only tried that policy because it was raining, so that was probably just a one-off – normally they charge different prices to sit down.
Are you aware that the prices of drinks have gone up in the bars? It’s now £4 for a bottle of London Pride against £3.80 on Boxing Day. This is the first increase in three years, and is due to tax and a price increase from our wholesalers. We had previously held prices for two years.
How far advanced is the research into a new ground and is it something that you genuinely feel could be accomplished in time? We are working extremely hard on this and have been for the last five or six months. It’s going to take a bit of time but whether it’s a new stadium or the EBB Stadium we need to do something. We’ve got to upgrade the facilities, whether here or elsewhere. We have no option.
What is the break-even figure for attendances? 1800. At the moment our average, in league and FA Cup games, is almost 1700 and we hope that increases when we play the likes of Tranmere Rovers, Grimsby Town and Torquay United at home in the next six weeks.
Do you think we will go part-time next season? No.
Will January and February be tough months as we have only two home games? Yes, cashflow is always tough, but we enjoy a great deal of goodwill from our sponsors and suppliers. Every football club at this level has the same problem, but at the moment we are one of only eight clubs out of the 69 in the whole of the National League to either breakeven or make a profit.
What areas can the Club improve in both on and off the pitch? On the pitch, obviously with more funding we could attract better players but we’re not going to spend money that we haven’t got. Off the pitch… how long have you got? The biggest thing we’d like to do is bring our lost supporters back, that is a big challenge. Secondly, we want to get more businesses involved in the Club. Thirdly we want more investors involved, and fourth is our vision for the future of our stadium.
With home attendances below the budgeted break-even figure, could we face going into administration again in the near future? I don’t expect us to, no. We do everything possible to run the football club as a sound and solvent business, and we have achieved that aim in each of the two years since we took over the Club. We as a Board are giving it our best shot possible and working extremely hard.
In the event of the Academy finding a great talent for the Club, where would any transfer fee go? To the Club.
Who is your current Player of the Year? I think it would be unfair to single out one player. I think the team has turned around their fortunes and are working well together.
If you could re-sign one ex player, who would it be and why? In the last two or three years, I would like to have Brett Williams back. Whatever anyone says about him, he scored loads of goals for us. But for me, going back to the 70s, the person I would like back is Glen Johnson. He’s my hero.
Do we have any realistic chance of being promoted in the next three years? If so, why? Every season we play we want to get promoted, and every game we play to win. The first couple of years (after administration) was all about stabilising the Club and getting our house in order, but yes, in the next few years of course we want to be promoted. If we didn’t believe that we might as well shut up shop. We’re not going to be defeatist – we want to win.
How true are the rumours that both Graham Westley and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had shown interest in managing the Club previously? I can’t talk about Graham Westley but Jimmy Floyd definitely had. He’s a friend of mine and before the Club appointed Dean Holdsworth, Jimmy was very keen to get involved in the Club. But the previous Chairman didn’t want him. He was interviewed and the Chairman chose Dean.
Where do you see us finishing in the league this season? We want to finish as high as possible, and any improvement on last season would be great.
What’s the best advice another Chairman has given you? Don’t get involved in football! When we travel to way matches, we get advice from so many different clubs, and talk to so many different people. We talk to every club we go to about stewarding and commercial matters, how they do things, and we try to learn from them. I couldn’t highlight one piece of advice, but we are trying to learn from everybody, and we take good advice from every possible source, both inside football and from elsewhere.