March 2011 Fans Forum
The main points of interest to come out of the evening were that manager Steve Burr is going nowhere at the moment; some of the current squad will be offered contracts for next season sooner rather than later; season tickets for next season will be available before the end of this season; and, KHIST finally have a representative on the board of the football club.
Also, Mark Serrell came out of the meeting having given a very positive image of himself – it was he first time that I had heard him speak – as the best person currently to be in the position of chairman. Former prospective buyer Chris Swan was painted in a very poor light, however.
Following on from the news that had broken earlier in the day about Grimsby Town’s approach to speak to Burr about the vacant manager’s position at Blundell Park it was reiterated by the manager himself that he is more than happy in his current job. Serrell had rung him and informed him of Grimsby’s interest and asked his feelings on it, Burr told him that he is happy where he is and so The Mariners were not given permission to speak to him. Burr did say that he would probably have had a budget two or three times that that he is currently working with and that he could have increased his wages but he likes it here in Kidderminster.
Asked about the current squad, and whether any of them had surprised him with there performances against what he had initially expected from them, he expressed a belief that Matt Blair could go on to play at a higher level, that he could understand why Callum Gittings hadn’t been playing at this level earlier – although Gary Whild did interject at this point that when he had been the Redditch manager he had been unable to get the player out of Alvechurch. Michael Briscoe was praised also, now one of the most regular players in the team Burr had only expected him to be a squad player when he signed him in the summer. Dave Hankin was singled out as a player lacking in confidence, the manager saying that he w as capable of far more than we have seen so far.
Burr hopes to have maybe 80% or more of the current squad remain at the club for next season, and talks are already underway with a number of them. An announcement is hoped for sooner rather than later with news of the outcome of those talks. In answer to a question from the floor the manager said that he wants to keep Chris McPhee at the club, but expects that although the player loves it at Kidderminster he [McPhee] will wait until the end of the season as he will have a number of other clubs interested and there may be something that is more suitable for him with regard to his travelling. Personally, I think McPhee will still be a Kidderminster Harriers player come August, especially if what was once a highly unlikely target of promotion is achieved.
Still on the subject of players, Burr revealed that Sean Canham’s loan from Hereford would be extended for the rest of the season and that he did have a player lined up to bring in on loan before the deadline at the end of the month if necessary, although he didn’t feel that he needed to bring anyone else in to put straight into the team, only as an extra body in case of injury or suspension.
The chairman gave a fairly detailed overview of the club’s current financial standing, even going into projections for the rest of the season and into next. As things stand the club is in no immediate danger; the recent increased crowds for the games against Altrincham and Wrexham brought in approximately £22000 each in extra revenue and maintaining that level of support for the rest of the season would go a long way towards ensuring that the manager can be given a budget that is at least as much as his current one for next season, allowing him to bring in players that he has already identified. The current forecast for the rest of this season is that the club will have anything between £0 and £20000 of normal trading debts and a £64000 brewery loan.
The current predictions for next season, assuming that attendances continue around the 1300 mark, see a shortfall of around £90000. The hope is to increase the number of season tickets from the current level around 560 to 1000 which, it is hoped, would bring in an extra £81000 and go a long way to meeting that shortfall. Season tickets will be put on sale early, with a couple of alterations to the current pricing structure in that there will be an extra ‘School Leavers/ Young Adult’ band for those who no longer qualify for the juniors concession but are not in full time education, and the seniors concession age is lowered from 65 to 60. Normal ticket prices for next season are likely to be held at the current level if the club is still in the Conference but will be increased if promotion is acheived, making an early-bird season ticket even an more attractive option.
Serrell confirmed that the current board of directors are still actively looking for more investment, and have six parties interested in either investing or buying the club. He ruefully commented how it was funny that now the club is out of danger people are interested in getting involved but were nowhere to be seen when help was needed. Questions were asked about the involvement of George Rolls and it was revealed that the controversial figure had, when Harriers were just hours from entering a CVA, made a no-strings offer of £80000 to the club. His subsequent study of the club had revealed nothing that the board didn’t already know, but he had said that they would be “crazy” to sell it.
Revelations about the behaviour of Chris Swan raised a few eyebrows when the events of the last days of his aborted takeover of the club were recounted. The reported extra £160000+ of debt that he had found had been greeted with surprise by the board as Swan had used the club’s new accountant Joe Hancox to go through the books and he had reported no such thing. Swan’s advice to the board had been to make the club insolvent, drop a couple of leagues and then go back and talk to him again. He had also taken umbrage with KHIST and vowed to ‘break’ them.
Despite their run-in with Mr Swan, KHIST have had a productive few months; their efforts in raising money – over £20000 in the space of just a few days – were applauded and they have finally gained a representative on the board of the football club which has been their long-held aim. Karl Davies was unveiled as the man to take that position, at least for the next few months while both parties (the board and KHIST) study the benefits of the arrangement and until his position on the KHIST board is up for election.
The evening as a whole also raised money for the club; the ticket price of £10 to cover the meal provided by Brian Murdoch went to the club as the caterer waived his costs, and along with a raffle a total of around £800 was raised.
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