Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Fans' Forum: May 2022 round-up

9 May 2022

Thursday, May 5th saw Scunthorpe United host their latest Fans’ Forum in the Sir Ian Botham Executive Lounge, and we thank everyone who attended.

The event was hosted by Iron Trust chairman Councillor Tony Gosling. United's first team manager Keith Hill, chief operating offer Lee Turnbull, chief executive officer Leanne Mayo and fan-elected director Neil Wright were present to answer a number of questions from supporters at the two-hour event, and here is a round-up of the questions and answers.

On the club's recruitment...
KH said: "Recruitment makes any manager's life an easier job. You've got to shop where your budget allows you to shop. There's a certain amount of risk to everything, with respect to player recruitment and retaining. Last season (2020-21) the team finished third bottom with arguably a better squad of players. The football world generally understands where the land lies at certain clubs with respect to wages and ambition, and things like that can be very difficult. We have to be in front of the curve. Recruitment is a science and there's also a bit of luck in it, but ultimately it comes down to money. The more money you've got, the better players you recruit. There's one example in our league, losing £91,000 a week but finishing outside the play-offs. For how long is that sustainable? Alternatively, you can go the other way and develop young players, tap into the market of players who haven't been developed first time around and go into what I call the 'bargain basement' of players released by other clubs to revive their luck. There is a risk in that at times but the rewards are massive. Recruitment is going to be key over the summer, and there's a clear pathway forward that we're trying to achieve with everybody's help. We have to develop our own saleable assets."
 
On who is in charge of the club's recruitment...
KH said: "I want to be responsible for recruitment, 100 per cent, so I can be judged on it. I want that tag and pressure on my shoulders because ultimately I should be challenged with success or failure on those premises."
 
On the outcome of the home kit vote earlier in the year...
LM said: "The result will be announced when the kit is launched in the summer, which is what we do each year. We'll announce once we have the kit in the building and we can promote it properly."
 
On moving forward after the embargo...
LT said: "I believe it's a £1.7-million loan from the EFL that is payable over ten years, which has its strings attached. It's not free money. We have to really dance to the EFL's tune on that. Regarding going into the National League, we do get funding next year, which is substantially less than what we get in League Two - around 50 per cent. You look at the clubs who have struggled and been relegated, a lot of them have been under an embargo and it's clearly tough. It was basically one player in, one player out."
 
KH said: "It was very difficult. It's like lending somebody £20 but being told what you can spend it on, and I then tell you you can't buy a chocolate bar for £1.50, you can only buy it for 30p. The ramifications of the embargo were very similar to that."
 
On the results after Christmas and how Keith Hill can convince he's the man to take the club forward...
KH said: "We had a good run before getting to January. That was a very difficult window. I can't go into the finer detail of why, but it was an open window for players (being able to come in and go out of the club). With respect to selling myself, I develop players, a style, a culture and the culture of this football club does need to change. Most football managers ask for time, and you do need time. Bristol Rovers, who we play on Saturday, were relegated last season and all their fans wanted Joey Barton out. Now they're pushing for promotion and he's a hero. You do need time, transfer windows and to change the culture. I've developed players throughout my managerial career and my CV speaks for itself. This time last season I was sat with a 50 per cent win ratio at my previous club. I feel as a manager you're only as good as the players you've got to work with. I'm not blaming the players for the relegation of the football club, but recruitment has got to be better. I feel I'm the right man for the job but ultimately you've got to decide that. If you decide I'm not the right man for the job then I won't be offended by that. I'm still ambitious and working with a good young group, and developing good relationships. I feel as though the home-grown process has to be part of the future for this football club. Everyone in the room is asking for money to be spent, and that money was spent big time in the past by Peter Swann and his family in trying to achieve everyone at this club's dream of getting back into the Championship. That money isn't there to be spent anymore. It was spent on some very good players who got the club into the higher echelons of League One. We now find ourselves in this situation, but it gives us a brilliant opportunity to start again and create a new identity. I feel I'm the right person to change the culture, but I do agree that the points tally since the win at Oldham has been nowhere near good enough. If you look at the 31 games prior to that, it was one win in the final 16 games of last season and two wins in the first 15 of this season. You can't keep changing the manager and expect success at a football club. You need stability and if you keep giving people six months the same mistakes will be made time and time again. Continuity and consistency is needed so you can create a clear pathway for the young players at this football club."
 
On Lee Turnbull's overall brief from the owners as COO...
LT said: "When Peter approached me about returning, he explained how he wanted me to come back to the club and work with all the departments of the club on a day-to-day basis, and particularly alongside Leanne. It was a challenge I was prepared to take. Titles are titles, everyone can have a title, but it's what you do and it's ultimately how you attack things and move forward. Clearly the football club over the last two or three years has been failing, we're at our lowest ebb and we need to address that as quickly as possible. Moving forward, hopefully we can rebuild, refocus and realign. Talk is cheap though and actions speak louder than words. I have a long association with the club, doing a multitude of different jobs and get your feelings and know where you're all coming from regarding what's happened."
 
On how much involvement Peter Swann still has...
LT said: "Peter is actively looking to sell the club, and I'd compare it to selling your house where you leave it to an estate agent or where you're present when potential buyers come around and you show them around, etc. He has been on the premises twice since I've been back in these last five weeks. In terms of involvement from Peter, because he's owner and paying the bills, then we do need to be in contact - but it's probably more through emails with myself, Leanne and the fellow directors. I know he speaks to the manager on occasion, but in terms of physically seeing Peter it's not been that often."
 
On where we are with the selling of the club...
LT said: "He's still paying the bills, and if he is still the owner, he understands the dynamic that he'll have to provide the manager with a competitive budget next year to try and get back into the EFL. When I had the first meeting with Peter, he said there were two or three interested parties. There are non-disclosure agreements and a period of due diligence that any interested party has to go through. I honestly don't know how close or far away a sale is. What I do know at the moment is there are interested parties and there was a board meeting over Zoom with Peter and Karin last week, where he informed myself, Neil and Leanne that he'd turned down a couple of offers. There is clearly interest. Where we are in terms of selling it today, I honestly don't know, but I do know they are trying to sell the football club."
 
On the playing budget for next season should the current ownership remain...
LM said: "We're in the budgeting process at the moment and have done a lot of fact finding of what central funding and additional costs there are in the National League. We've been to three clubs and have spoken to staff that our staff know at other clubs, gathering a lot of information from that. We know where we want the budget to be, but we just need to work out if and how we can get there."
 
On Companies House last month, it showed the charge on Scunthorpe United has been satisfied in full. A supporter asked if that was the case, where did the monies come from to satisfy that charge...
LM said: "It was a historical charge on the stadium from Cool Silk when it was lending vast sums of money to the club. Those vast sums were written off when the stadium was transferred over, at which point the charge was satisfied but the actual paperwork wasn't filed until April 27th. It's something that should have happened at that point in time. It was basically a paper exercise to tidy it all up that should have been done when the stadium was originally transferred, but wasn't."
 
On where the stadium ownership stands now...
LM said: "It's still in Cool Silk."
 
On how Keith keep himself motivated with the uncertainty over ownership...
KH said: "It's been really hard dealing with a lot of situations, as in the dynamics of the football club, the changing room, players and recruitment. I wake up in a morning and know I'm going to work in an industry I love. If I could peacock, I would have done last Saturday. I was so proud and as a manager you're searching for moments like that. To witness the introduction and be in a situation where I can give Owen Foster his debut, and the other young players a clear pathway through. We had six academy graduates/present players in that team. They can see a way of working they believe in that will make them successful. They're humble every day to learn. It's those moments you're searching for. I've been a manager for 15 years and given debuts to players, some of whom I'm still in touch with now and they're seasoned internationals or Premier League players. The biggest trait that they have is they're all humble, hungry, appreciative and work hard. I want to invest in people, and we have good people at this club. We all suffer at a weekend when we get beat but there's something tangible to hold onto and you can build a football club with continuity, and the right messages at the right time."
 
LT said: "It's a difficult time at the moment. We're in transition, we've just been relegated to the National League and it's the unknown for this club. We've had some incredible highs here in the last 72 years and to get this stadium bouncing again will be a massive achievement from everybody concerned. We know we need a product on the pitch, and also off it. We need everyone to pull together. Everyone will have their opinion on how the club should be run, and what team Keith should pick every Saturday, but that's why we love football. We feel it and that's why we need to find a way to move it forward. We understand the frustrations, 100 per cent, but we've got to try and turn it around. There are so many clubs we've read about that have slipped down the league or gone to the wall. We need to address it with our eyes open, not skulking away from anything."
 
On the naming of the stadium...
NW said: "I had a conversation with Peter last week and he is certainly of the thinking that he'll give us the ground back, take away the naming rights and it will once again be called Glanford Park."
 
On rebuilding the fan base back up...
NW said: "The strong feeling I've been getting from my communication with fans is that to hit the ground running next season would be a fantastic start. We have a great bunch of kids as we all know, but I do feel we need some hard men in there as well. That's what we need in the National League. I do think if we start winning, that will get a few fans back. With regards season tickets, there are fans who are adamant they won't come back under the current regime. That's their decision, though it's one that saddens me because none of the money that comes into the club goes into Peter's pocket. One thing that I feel we should do as fans to attract a new owner is show a new owner what a good fan base we have got at this club. Those two things together, we will regrow this club again."
 
On if the season ticket deadline for the early bird rates will be extended beyond the end of May...
LM said: "At this moment, we're working towards the Early Bird deadline of May 31st and we're not expecting to extend that. If there is a sale of the club and new owners, that's a decision for them to make and I obviously understand why that would be a popular move in that situation."
 
On if the club will look to restructure the matchday ticket pricing so as not to penalise those who are unable to buy tickets in advance...
LM said: "We've not undertaken a review of that yet but it will all be looked at over the coming weeks."
 
On how genuine is Peter Swann about selling the club...
LT said: "We can only take it at face value. I go back to the point of selling your house. You've got to sell it for what you feel it's worth. I can tell they genuinely want to sell the football club. Peter and his family have a value of what they want to sell the club for. We're still waiting on him to accept a suitable offer to sell this football club."
 
On how the club will work with supporters' clubs more proactively going forward...
LT said: "I spoke to Neal Campbell (SUOSC chairman) on Saturday and I'm quite happy to sit around a table with the SUOSC and all the other supporters' groups. We also have Neil (Wright) on the board now and he certainly tells the board what he hears from fans. I've been pretty open in the month I've been here, I've been around on matchday, going in the bars to see fans too and I've been up to Winterton for a meeting with their group, and said the door's always open. We are moving forward in that respect and hopefully you can see that."
 
NW said: "You tell me and I tell the board, and I don't take no for an answer. I fight tooth and nail to get the answer I'm looking for."
 
On if we have any sponsors for next season...
LM said: "We have a shirt sponsor, back of shirt sponsor and shorts sponsor lined up, which we're very pleased with."
 
On whether a printed programme will return next season...
LM said: "With regards a printed programme, it's something we're very hopeful of being able to do."
 
On which players are staying next season, and how we are looking to secure the future of our young talent...
KH said: "The retaining and releasing will be done privately early next week and then it will be released via the media. The young players are under contract and are the future of this club. Everyone in the room is talking about spending money. If we can establish this layering system of players, where we promote and sell at the right time, then you generate your own cash. Football for me is not just about out there on the pitch, but about making ends meet in a business sense. The future of the football club for me is the youth, building a layering system of development success, and having financial success. The success of the club shouldn't be dependent on one benefactor. It's a footballing business and a simple model."
 
On if we get a parachute payment from the EFL, and what we roughly get from the National League...
LM said: "In terms of finance and income, we get one year's equivalent basic award to what we get in League Two, which is £600,000. We do get a Premier League solidarity payment, but nothing like the amount we get now. We get circa £50,000 from the National League and there are several things that come out of that, such as an application fee, membership fee. There will still be some left over from that £50,000 though. On the upside, we're more likely to get TV money, which is £6,000 if you're at home and it's either £2,000 or £3,000 if you're away. There is no streaming permitted in the National League. We do get to continue with our EFL template website for a couple of years and then we have to pay if we plan to continue with it, or develop our own which is a significant cost of tens of thousands of pounds."
 
On in which way does the culture of the club need to change...
KH said: "I want an all-inclusive environment, not a self catering one. I want my characteristics, personality and work ethic imprinted all over the football club and on the training pitch. I don't think we've had enough of that consistently. When it comes to recruitment, I'll do my due diligence and look at the ambition. There shouldn't be a motive of money to come to this football club. I want people who represent the values of me and you, the supporters."
 
On whether the contracted stewards are staying or not, and what comment the club can make on the policing last weekend...
LT said: "We'll have a full review at the end of the season, as we do every year. We presently use RS Security. The police are there to protect us. We had a full debrief with the police and we will get to know the findings of their further investigation. Obviously there's a level of aggravation that was aimed at the police, and they felt they were acting appropriately to that level of aggravation towards them. In terms of the spray, it was PAVA spray, which is a mechanism that they use at the level of intolerance. They go through a process and the actions they take on the day were to try and enforce the law, because there were people trying to break it. It works both ways and in my opinion it's really difficult when our supporters aren't treated in the manner we want them to experience football at this ground. We know there's an element that's progressed and that there's been aggravation aimed at the stewards and the police, and the police deal with that how they deem appropriate. We're not in a position to tell the police what to do. The police uphold law and order. It's their job to make sure everyone in the stadium is safe and we need to respect that. Going back to your point though, there will be a full review which the club will be involved with some time over the coming days."
 
NW said: "There will be a full review of the stewarding in the summer. It's certainly something I've been looking at. Most of my attention is drawn to the DRE (AKA the Britcon Stand) to see what is happening."
 
TG said: "After voicing our opinions on the handcuffing incident earlier this season, the Iron Trust have been offered two seats on the SAG (Safety Advisory Group), and Trust members have nominated myself and John Needham to sit on that."
 
On whether there's a plan to stop the matchday price increase for home games next season...
LM said: "We will look at it if you're requesting we do so, but there are reasons why it's done. It's common place at a lot of clubs."
 
On whether Leanne is staying next season, as there are rumours she's moving on...
LM said: "I will be here in some capacity, yes."
 
On whether there are plans for any new players to come in...
KH said: "We have got plans for new players. As I've previously said, I want to focus on our young players, and bring in people who can help them thrive. I'm not a big fan of the loan system and would rather develop my own players."
 
On whether the club envisages continuing the practice of players taking the knee before games...
LT said: "Fundamentally, we should all respect each other for a start anyway, so whatever anyone's opinion or view is, whether it's taking the knee, standing, applauding as a group, should be respected. It's up to the individuals."
 
On former director Simon Elliott leaving the board, and there being disappointment as Simon being a supporter on the board gave some fans hope...
NW said: "Simon was here when I was appointed, I’ve known Simon for over 30 years and I was massively looking forward to working with him. He had his reasons for resigning but unfortunately that's between Simon and the board. I hope the work I intend to do will give you hope as a fan. If you can't see me on a matchday, it doesn't mean I'm not here. I can always be found. I try to get into the Iron Bar, Executive Bar and restaurant to meet all the fans. I'm very visible and don't hide. I do have directorial duties I have to do with the opposition board but I can always be found. I refuse to do any conversations on social media, but I've answered anybody that has contacted me via email, which is simply fandirector@scunthorpe-united.co.uk. I'll always try and give you the best answer that I am able to. We need it to become a community club again and it's something Lee and I feel very strongly about, making this club feel like it's part of the community again. We've been relegated and it hurts us all, but we intend to do some good work in the summer, hit the ground running next season and give you hope back as a fan."
 
On if the club is looking to build flats and bring external money in to help Keith's budget...
LM said: "In terms of additional revenue to be put back into the budget, it's what we're looking to do one way or another, whether it's selling players, new investors, or looking to diversify our income so we can plough that back into the budget. The flats are managed by a project manager who works for the Swanns directly. Peter Swann has always committed to saying he would put the money back into the club."
 
On whether the stadium will still be cashless next season...
LM said: "I don't think we've totally managed to be cashless this year, as we do have catering points, club shop and the Iron Bar around the stadium where you can pay cash. We're still not planning on bringing cash back to the turnstiles, and we will operate it via the booth and ticket office. We have spoken to other clubs about what they're doing to make sure we're not doing anything radically different. There's a cost to counting, handling and keeping cash, and then giving it to the bank costs too due to us being a business. I would never want to turn away cash, absolutely, but it's just not that simple."
 
On how we bring and attract the right player to a relegated club that's been in freefall for the last few seasons...
KH said: "We have a list of players we want to speak to, and present a plan and way of working to. It may be free transfers or players transfer listed by a football club. I have a way of working on the training ground, and I have a presentation of the reasons I want to play a certain style. We try to create the perfect scenario for the player but it's a two-way thing and they have to understand what the supporters expect, and buy into the 'project' to revive our opportunities to be successful. For me, personality is a big component of the DNA of the players that we want to recruit - training ground habits, punctuality, self-respect, respect for their team-mates, plus respect for the laws of the game and opponents. You've got to have ambition, and want to be better. There's a right way of doing things and I have no problem of selling the way I work - all I have to do is hand my CV out to players, 'look at the players on that list who I've helped develop, here's what we can do for you'. I'll continue to back myself to add more players to that CV.
 
On if the Iron Trust will be stepping up attempts to acquire any sort of stake in the club...
TG said: "There are no shares available and if they did become available in Scunthorpe United, the Trust has approximately £4,000 in its bank account and would be prepared to invest that in shares."
 
A supporter asked about an alleged incident involving a steward outside the stadium last Saturday and if there can there be any type of assurance given that the club will look at that...
LT said: "Obviously we have to be careful because they're allegations and we're talking about individuals, but there are procedures in place we have to follow. Now we know about it, we can address it."
 
On Keith's attacking philosophy for next season...
KH said: "I want a team that can score 70 goals a season - that's what gets you promoted or in the promotion pack. There needs to be a contribution from the whole team. You need multiple dangers from all over the pitch, which the club hasn't had for a long time. It's something I'm conscious of. I'm looking forward to pre-season with the players, and I will create the all-inclusive culture I referenced earlier. It's something I've not really found difficult to achieve in the past."
 
On Bristol Rovers tickets and not ordering further ones after selling out...
LM said: "We didn't sell out of tickets until last Saturday, so from our perspective we could have done with a few more, but probably not substantially more. If there was more demand for those tickets, we would have had greater grounds to push Bristol Rovers for more."
 
On whether the club can get the players back into the Iron Bar to be presented their man of the match awards...
LT said: "We can certainly look into re-establishing that over the summer."
 
On if there is no sale for the club, is it sustainable for the next 12-to-24 months?
LM said: I know this message has been put out, but fans coming to games and supporting us is what we need to be sustainable. The budget falls out of what our income is, and that’s what we need to do make it sustainable. That will only correlate to the type of players we can get in."

Advertisement block