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Club News

Ask the chairman - part 12

27 November 2017

Why did the club launch the 1867 Membership scheme?

In simple terms, the club needs direct revenue, not cash in the battle against Profit and Sustainability. Do we have problems with P&S? Of course, I must be open and I must be honest when I say that yes, we have problems, alongside I suspect numerous other clubs in the Championship who have ambitions to reach the Premier League. Let me stress that Sheffield Wednesday do not have financial concerns but for every season we do not achieve promotion, the prospect of breaching P&S draws closer.

The inception of Club 1867 was based wholly on staying within the boundaries of P&S, which governs the spending limits of all Championship clubs. If those limits were withdrawn, we would not have a problem but the harsh reality that cannot be ignored is that P&S is an issue for Sheffield Wednesday as each season passes without reaching the Premier League.

One of the key messages surrounding Club 1867 – and one that I cannot stress highly enough – is that I would never ask one single supporter to join if they cannot afford to do so. The same applies for buying a Season Ticket, a match ticket, a shirt or a scarf. I am offering Club 1867 only to those who can afford to join. I understand a lot of people will not be able to join the campaign at first base so we plan to introduce different tiers that will enable everyone to take part should they wish to do so.

I have seen fans questioning the cost and value, which I understand. I know what I am asking is difficult. I could ask myself the same question of value when it comes to investing millions of pounds into our club. It is about heart, it is about spirit and helping our club when it needs it the most.

In terms of cost, if Club 1867 is to succeed, the membership has to be priced as it is to cover the next two seasons against P&S to give us the best chance of promotion. If the prices are not what they are, there is no point in launching the campaign.

I have to be sincere and as the head of our club I must say the good things and the bad. Since I came to Sheffield Wednesday, I have never thought about business, I just wish to do the very best for the fans and make the dream come true. This is what I would like to continue and If I can spend by myself I would not ask for one penny but the simple fact is I cannot.

I have seen some hurtful things saying I am ‘trying to beg’ which I have never done in my whole life and never will. I have always helped people first, that is my personality so to see something like that made me sad. I just wish to tell the truth and we have a problem this season, with bigger problems next season without promotion. I have seen suggestions such as extended three-year Season Tickets or five-year Season Tickets for example but this would not solve the issues with P&S, which are apparent now. I repeat – I do not need money but I do need help with P&S.

Finally, I wanted to ensure that all our fans have all the information in advance so there were no surprises about the problems to come. I would like to say thank you to the fans who have already supported this campaign, I appreciate this support very much. To everyone who wishes to support Club 1867, this is your chance to help. I know that other clubs are keeping a close eye on our campaign and nothing would give me more pride than Sheffield Wednesday making Club 1867 the first successful project of its kind.

Does the club plan to introduce a half Season Ticket?

Yes, and we will be revealing full details soon.

Why do ticket prices go up when a child reaches 11 years of age?

We have price increases for various different age groups in line with many clubs around the country. There has to be a cut-off point for age groups and the way this is implemented benefits our younger supporters.

If we were to offer a simple under 17 discount, for example, the cost to our juniors per match would be more than the current structure. Under 11s Season Tickets are priced from £1.95, moving up to £3.91 for under 17s. One single discount would have to accommodate each age group but this way the savings are passed on to all our younger fans.

Why do some clubs concessions start at 60 and ours are 65?

The senior citizen age range change was introduced for the 2010/11 season to fall in line with the changes to retirement ages. This has been adopted by many clubs with others looking to follow suit. Currently there are 18 clubs in the Championship that offer a concession to over 65s, five to over 60s and one with no concession at all.

Is there any possibility that the club provide more wheelchair spaces in the North Stand for the future? What is the club’s relationship with SAG?

We are currently running at full capacity for wheelchair bays in the North Stand and did extend into the Kop at the start of the 2015/16 season. We have maximised the current space available but our safety operations team are always looking at additional ways to create more bays.

Unfortunately, Hillsborough was not designed as a stadium to incorporate many modern day requirements, from wheelchair bays to cycle bays and designated smoking areas to toilet facilities. We are severely limited with the space we have to work with and this impacts on many upgrades our operations team would like to put in place, such as a club museum for example.

Safety for every single supporter is paramount and sometimes there will be unpopular decisions - such as the removal of TV screens on the Kop concourses - but a safe stadium is our first priority. We are working very hard with the Safety Advisory Group and local authorities on all relevant aspects of the stadium. Our relationship with SAG has grown stronger following more regular meetings and ongoing dialogue. Working together, we have managed to increase the capacity by a further 1,200 and we want that figure to keep on climbing. SAG now have a greater understanding of what we want to achieve and I am confident that the improved relationship will lead to a better situation for everyone concerned.

Have you considered bringing in a director of football?

I do not believe in the concept of one person such as a director of football having the control such an appointment would bring. As I wrote last week, I have advisors around the world and we work and consult together as a committee on a regular basis. I prefer to listen to different voices as opposed to just one.

If you look around this country, through the Football League and all the way up to the Premier League, directors of football are few and far between. The structure we have in place now mirrors that of most clubs in England and for that matter across most of Europe.

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