Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri recently asked supporters to send in their questions on all things SWFC and today we kick off this extensive feature as Mr Chansiri addresses the Sheffield Wednesday Steering Group;
How many concerns raised at Steering Group meetings have been addressed by the club? What is the purpose of the Steering Group?
The primary purpose of the Steering Group is to provide a two-way platform for engagement, debate, feedback and suggestion without conflict. Sheffield Wednesday fans across the board are invited to attend and we deem it extremely important that all supporter groups are represented. The intention is clear – to help make every area of the club better. Many issues across all areas of the club have been discussed at length to date and where possible, resolved.
Using examples where the feeling was strong on a consistent basis but the level of investment varied – the outer fascia of the West Stand and the catering contract at Hillsborough. Following extensive dialogue that included the route of planning permission, a brand new fascia replaced the old corrugated iron exterior of the West Stand following guidance and feeling from the Steering Group.
Then, at the other end of the scale, after similar extensive dialogue and with significant cost to the club, the decision was taken to bring the catering arm of the business in-house.
In addition, supporters also regularly expressed their concerns over the previous kit supplier. The concept of bringing this arm of the club in-house was wholeheartedly supported and whilst we acknowledge fledgling issues on this and the catering front, we were open to the Steering Group regarding our intentions in the first instance, seeking and receiving its support.
Primarily, I am of the belief that all potential revenues should be maximised for the benefit of the club, not any third party, and this view has been endorsed at every Steering Group meeting we have held.
Elsewhere, many issues raised are general queries and these are answered openly and honestly by either myself or a member of my senior staff present. Transparency and open communication where possible is a key element of my ownership and will continue to be so.
Obviously, some issues cannot be resolved in an instant but all supporters are guaranteed that satisfactory answers will be provided to any reasonable query in the fullness of time.
The forums are fundamentally what I believe to be the necessary bridge between supporters and the club. It should be noted that the meetings are not ‘official’ as such and consequently not reported on our website nor minuted. The ethos of the Steering Group is its informal nature, which takes in brainstorming of a fashion and in-depth conversation. Conversely, we have no objection to the attendees reporting after the event but stress that any such reporting should be accurate, fair and balanced.
For example, following the most recent meeting, the reports on one supporter’s coverage receiving criticism from myself were misleading. I did express my surprise over the content of some additional comments, but not the initial reporting, which I believe the supporter in question does very well.
However, on this occasion, we explained at length a certain situation but felt this was negated if such information was to be disregarded. I must stress this is not a criticism but an observation. I do feel that members of the Steering Group have a responsibility to the wider fan base if feeding back content on meetings.
Moving forward, with ongoing engagement and dialogue, the structure and delivery of the Steering Group will continue to evolve with all of the above in mind.
As a footnote, Sheffield Wednesday hosted such meetings long before they became regulated by the EFL following government intervention. The requirement stipulates two meetings per year - we deliver meetings on an average quarterly basis.