Fan Q&A Evening reflections

Reflections and a brief recap of discussion points from Thursday evening’s supporter Q&A…

Aggborough Stadium [PA Images]

HARRIERS officials have thanked supporters who sold out Q&A session at the Aggborough Suite on Thursday evening.

Kidderminster Harriers owner, Richard Lane, was joined by new Interim Chief Executive, Neil Male, along with Interim Manager, Jimmy Shan and assistant boss Russ Penn. More than 120 supporters were in attendance as each area of the club was discussed in a hugely positive atmosphere.

Richard said today: “It was fantastic to be able to meet and speak to so many positive Harriers supporters, both collectively and on an individual basis. It’s clear we all want to move forward and all want what is best for the club, and that we’re all working hard to do that. It was a very enjoyable evening and we were so grateful to everyone who attended for their support.”

Neil Male added: “I was pleased to be able to outline to supporters our vision for the club and where we feel we can go together. There are challenges to be met but with the implantation of a culture and structure that aligns everyone to the same way of thinking – with our supporters at the forefront of it – I’m confident we can be successful.”

The opening portion of the evening was devoted to discussing the business of the club both presently and moving forward:

  • Both Richard and Neil discussed their own backgrounds as well as their hunger to get involved with the club as local people; Richard having grown with an affinity for the club at which his father, Rocky, was a director for 20 years and Neil whose son has been part or the club’s Junior Academy for a number of years.
  • Both outlined the challenges the club has met in recent months, not least financially, but added that, looking to the future, the club is operating without current debt and is “95% of the way there” to managing historical debt in a way that will allow the business to move forward prosperously with a view to being totally sustainable by the start of next season.
  • This will still require a tighter focus on spending but, generally, the business was presently in a “really good financial position.”

Neil, who was appointed to his new role this week, then detailed the vision for the club, which, among others, covered the following:

  • An ongoing, thorough evaluation and restructure of the club’s processes in all departments.
  • This was with the aim of addressing areas that require improvement, from commercial revenue generation to communication with supporters.
  • Richard added that he did not feel personally as though he was comfortable assuming a public spotlight and courting publicity himself, he appreciated there was a greater need for public transparency and communication from the hierarchy of the club. It was stated that Neil would assume responsibility for managing more regular, public updates from the club as a business, to all supporters and stakeholders.

With an eye on the future, various topics were discussed by both Neil and Richard, with additional questions from the floor. Among the noted discussion points were:

  • Confirmation that the club’s intention is to remain at Aggborough for the long-term. It was noted that this would require an improvement in infrastructure to improve facilities and, in general, make the stadium more accessible, and that discussions were due to be held with the local Council to identify ways in which this could happen.
  • There are no plans for the club to operate on a part-time basis in respect of a playing squad any time soon.
  • The ambition of the club is to reach the National League by the end the 2021/22. Despite the present league standing, there was still a desire to put together a good enough run of results to finish this season strongly and with momentum, and to be competing at the right end of the table next season.
  • The club is in talks with potential new education providers with a view to expanding partnerships, and that there is to be a tighter focus on retention of players from the club’s Junior and Academy ranks to ensure the team continues to bring through and develop its own talent.
  • Neil and Richard had raised with the National League the need for greater protection for clubs who have invested in generating their own footballing talent in respect of student registration and interest from higher clubs, and that this was being looked into.
  • In respect of imminent, further investment into the playing squad this season, it was noted that the club had been subject to a transfer embargo at the close of 2019 but that this had been lifted, as seen by the introduction of new signings in recent weeks. The manager would continue to be supported where possible, but this would be within the confines of carefully managed budgets.
  • Richard noted that he was aware that the club’s relationship with KHIST had been very healthy in the past and that this was something he and the club wanted to get back to. He stated his plans to meet with KHIST in the future to discuss.
  • A question was raised with regards to a collection for the installation of a disabled access lift within the stadium. It was confirmed that the lift was in the process of being looked into and that, on a related note, an appointment will shortly be made of a Non-Executive Director who would have a sole focus of improving the club’s diversity, access and inclusion.

Richard, Neil closed their session with an impassioned plea for supporters to continue getting behind both the team and the club and that everyone in the room had Kidderminster Harriers, and its future success, at heart.

Jimmy Shan and Russ Penn took to the floor for the football-based portion of the evening and, as a summary, discussed:

  • His desire for a ‘One Club’ mentality based around an atmosphere of positivity.
  • His hunger to forge his own managerial career, having turned down coaching and Academy roles at Premier League and EFL clubs.
  • The busy five-week period that accompanied his arrival at the club and the advantage the team have had in having a first ‘break’ for some time over the last couple of weeks.
  • His affinity with the club which had existed prior to his arrival, and only strengthened since taking the job.
  • His belief that the club has the potential and infrastructure of an EFL club and that it had that potential could be fulfilled.

He gave the room a detailed presentation which detailed his ethos in respect of tactics, principles of play, training schedules. He discussed the importance of the club’s supporters and the impact they can have on players and their performance levels.

At the end of the evening, Richard, Neil, Jimmy and Russ again all thanked supporters for attending the evening and noted the positive atmosphere within the room. It was noted that all club stakeholders – staff, players and supporters can work together to create a positive environment in which the club can be successful.

This article is about: Commercial, Community


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