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Ask the chairman epilogue

24 December 2017

First of all, I would like to say thank you to everyone who sent in their questions in our recent feature. As your chairman, I want to be as open and transparent as possible. If anyone believes their question has not been answered, please contact our media department via website@swfc.co.uk

I understand my answers may not have satisfied everyone and I have seen that some fans may not believe my answers. I would say I just tell the truth, not lies, and no one is better placed to provide honest answers to honest questions than myself as the head of the Sheffield Wednesday family. I believe if someone thinks they already know the answers, or do not believe me, then we do not need to waste each other’s time.

I wish to provide honest answers to honest questions and I know that some things I say may make some fans unhappy. I must stress that I do not intend these things to be relevant to all our fans, just those who say things that are untruthful or try to damage our club.

Some questions brought third parties into the equation and I am not comfortable discussing such situations but I promised to provide answers as honestly as I could and this I believe I did, without risking legal issues. If some fans are dissatisfied then I would suggest they ask any third party concerned first hand and invite them here to the stadium to talk face to face in an open forum which fans can witness. That way everyone can see the truth. I believe honesty to be the best policy, this is so much better than saying things behind anyone’s back. Our fans, our former employees, former players or anyone can have their say, no problem, and I can have my say too, which is fair on both sides. If I am wrong about something I will say sorry and if I am not, just say sorry back to me. This is what families do.

Feedback, opinion and constructive criticism is fine and healthy in any business. But when someone crosses the line and becomes abusive, this is something I cannot accept. Families should be able to talk and be honest, whether that is praise or criticism. But it should be done with respect, which is also two-way.

I receive letters and emails passed on to me by my assistants – sometimes they are pleasant and sometimes they are not. I know many fans, Season Ticket holders, for example, feel uncomfortable right now and some have even asked for a refund on their Season Tickets. I know this may be unusual but out of respect and the fact that I do not wish for anyone to be uncomfortable in our family, I will do so. I do not want to see anyone come here and be upset, I want everyone to be happy, so I would say do not come to Hillsborough if you are unhappy. Fans buy Season Tickets to support their club and to get the best price and before I came here, did anyone ask for a refund? I understand the expectations are higher right now but I truly believe that any fan should not come and watch us it makes them unhappy. If someone wishes to come on a match by match basis and not have a Season Ticket that is fine. So I can refund anyone with conditions, no problem, if that is what anyone wants.

Let me be clear – we all want the same thing. When I arrived at Sheffield Wednesday, I said I would like our 150th year to coincide with a return to the Premier League. I said I would try my very best, we would all try our very best to make this happen. I did not say that I guaranteed we would be in the Premier League by then. I can never guarantee anything or look too long to the future – I said I will try my best to fulfil the fans’ dream. I have tried to make the dream come true while fixing the problems of the past and building foundations for the future. I never said I am rich, I never said I was a good man or anything but one thing is certain, I am a human being like everybody else.

In the short time I have been here, not for even for one second have I thought anything bad to our club. I have been part of the Sheffield Wednesday family for less than three years and my own family are now 100% Wednesday. I remember some fans say owners come and go, this is not my club, it is your club, but fans are the real owners and have the real loyalty. But I can say I never damage our club, so what are some people doing now? When we have serious issues we can talk like a family and as human beings and work out the best way forward. It is easy to work like pure business but I work like a human being and a chairman.

I have to be honest and say since I have been here I have found it difficult at times. When someone does something good in football, this makes everyone satisfied, they are the best, but when they do something wrong some people - and I must stress it is only some - scold with no respect at all. To these people, I say, have you never done something wrong? If anyone has never done anything wrong, they have never done anything at all. As I say, I have no problem with criticism, opinion or suggestion but this should be constructive and not damaging. If your family or your boss said you are bad all the time, do you start to believe you are bad all the time? Families are supposed to stay together, in good times and bad. I have to ask, is my worth just to invest money for our fans? Is it for the fans’ benefit and advantage only? I have never thought like this before but now maybe I start to think the same, like business.

I try my best and I can say that with my hand on my heart. When I first came here, I did not know too much about football which I accept 100%. It is now almost three years and I have learned something about football every single day. It is easy to talk and take no responsibility. If I could do the same, it is easier for me to manage our club. I do not have more money than anyone here in the past but it depends on who wants to spend and take responsibility.

I do not feel good when I see some fans talk very bad about Carlos. In his first season, he was treated with full respect and many people were scared I would sack him, or were scared he would leave, they asked me to please let him stay, please keep him, he is the best we have ever had. But today some people want to drive him out of our club, they cross the line with some abusive things they say. Now he is a very bad coach all of a sudden – maybe some people have short memories. Anyone who says these things must also blame the squad, of course, blame everyone, but do it in a constructive, respectful way. It is the same for all my staff who I will always defend as the leader of our club. It does not matter who it is, if anyone says anything bad or tries to damage it is my duty to protect.

The coach is the leader of the football and he must take responsibility, same as I have responsibility as leader of the club. But what is the responsibility of our fans? I am happy to take responsibility for everything as leader but I ask everyone who abuses or speaks with no respect, please do not damage the team or the club, which I cannot accept at all, because this job is long term and far from finished.

I know when I talk like this some of our fans will not be happy. Many people have told me ‘do not say bad to the fans’. They want me to be like chairmen of other clubs or former owners for many years who just say good things or whatever fans want to hear, which would be very easy. If we say we are family then we must go together, good or bad, this is why it is called family.

If anyone has anything to say, just say the truth, do not try and damage people without the truth. I have never done this before because I would never like anyone to do this to me. For example, if I said every day that someone has a second wife or second husband and I keep saying it, would that person like it? Would their family like it? There are many things that some people say have happened behind the scenes that are just not true and I do not think this is fair. If one of my employees thinks I am not good, for example, then they come and talk to me and we try our best to resolve the situation one way or the other. I do not expect anyone to say something behind me that they should say to me and that applies to everyone connected to our club.

If some people say many of our staff have left, I say that some managers have wanted them to leave but I said no, I gave them a chance. I do not want to fire anyone, because they have been here a long time, which I respect. I want all our staff to be proud of themselves and proud of our club. In the football department, some have left because better opportunities have arisen somewhere else and I do not want to hold anyone if they can go better in their career.

A lot of things have happened behind the scenes which I have tried to fix for the future. If someone said it is difficult to work with me then this is true if you do not want to work hard like a normal business. If someone wants to work like before, easy and relaxed and not wanting to work hard, then it is impossible in my time. I manage very fairly and think on both sides – but employee first when most people think about the employer. One of the first things I did when I came here was increase salaries when there were no raises for a few years. In return I expect the right work balance. My family have always taught me to have responsibility and respect. I expect the same things from everyone I work with in business or within our club. I am now three seasons into this project which I always believed was long term. But if today some of our fans do not believe or do not trust me anymore, they should let me know, because there is no point in me being here away from my family even though Sheffield Wednesday is in my blood and Hillsborough is like my second home.

Every decision I make I do as your chairman and is what I believe to be the right decision for Sheffield Wednesday - nothing more and nothing less and everything for our lovely club.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and thank you so much for your support.

 

 

 


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