Karl Evans – Q&A

Yesterday evening 02/11/2020 – PTB met with Karl Evans (CEO) for a monthly meeting that have been scheduled to improve communications between ourselves and the club. This meeting took place via Zoom and Karl was sent certain questions from ourselves prior to the meeting so we could provide supporters with an update on certain aspects of the club to date.

– General Update

We asked about the situation regarding the new lockdown and whether this has any affect on the club. Karl confirmed that furlough has been extended for another month for football clubs (in line with other businesses), but he also mentioned that only 2 people at the club are on furlough at this point.

A player recently contracted Covid (already reported by the club) and has been self isolating. This period of isolation is now complete. We commented that the player wasn’t named and if there was a specific reason for this. Karl advised that if people who have contracted Covid don’t want to be named then that’s up to the discretion of that player. There is no other reason as to not naming.

Karl visited Hummel on Thursday of last week. Options for kits for next season should go out to fans this week to choose. He also confirmed that the badge for next season won’t be the one on this seasons leisurewear (the “angry owl” badge), but at this stage they are not 100% sure what it will be as discussions are ongoing.

Karl is meeting with the Trust tomorrow (Tuesday) around the memorandum of understanding to iron out any differences. From what he has seen, he saw no major issues with what was being proposed.

– Q. How have the PTB survey results been reacted to within the club and is there any follow up action planned?

Senior people within the club aren’t particularly surprised by the survey results internally. Abdallah is aware that he’s not very popular amongst fans.

– Q. We explained that if he is aware of his unpopularity, what does he intend to do about this? We said that something needs to fundamentally change if there is any chance of turning this around.

Karl said the club needs to stand up for themselves a bit more as some points they could defend, they have chosen not to thus far. As far as he is aware/concerned, he has not witnessed Harry Kewell being under any pressure from anybody to pick a certain player and/or any deals in place where loan players are obligated to play.

Karl asked what fans want from Abdallah? Do they want weekly/monthly contact from him? We advised that given the situation at this time and how fans are feeling, fans need to see a show of leadership and that he does genuinely care about this club and has its best interest at heart. We have been through a pandemic, a court case as well as a poor start to the season with no contact from our chairman. We explained how similar this was to the situations at Leyton Orient and Charlton, where owners disappeared into the background.

We explained that it’s not us (PTB) that he needs convince, we are just 4 people, he needs to convince 800 people who stopped going to games last season, 1400 people who chose not to renew their season tickets and all the people who email us to state they have been a season ticket holder for 20/30/40 years and won’t be renewing while the current regime is in place.

– Q. We mentioned in our last meeting about the prospects of a video call with Abdallah (in place of a fans forum). How is this progressing?

Karl advised that it’s been mentioned but it’s baby steps. He’s asked for support to convince him (AL) it’s the right thing to do to obtain answers to questions that fans really want to know the answers to. Circumstances should dictate that Abdallah should want to address fans to give them a sense of a plan going forward and ways to turn this around. Karl asked if that should be his role but we advised that with no disrespect meant, direction can only come from one person or fans opinions won’t change. 3 wins and/or a marquee signing won’t cut it any more.

We asked if by the time we have our next meeting in 3/4 weeks time, will Abdallah have addressed fans in some form. The response was “I sincerely hope so and it won’t be for the lack of trying on my part”.

Karl advised the support and feeling after the Bolton game was fantastic and we advised that fans want to back the club and support it. We can not like what is happening off the pitch but we will always support the club on the pitch. Fans support Oldham Athletic, but they don’t support Abdallah Lemsagam’s Oldham Athletic as things stand.

– Q. Can Kieran Maguire come in to view the accounts like we asked last year?

Karl will review the management accounts (rather than Kieran Maguire) as he’s a trained accountant and if anything looks like it needs further investigation and interrogation then he will do that. He’s not averse to having them viewed by an independent third party but this will primarily be Karl’s responsibility. Karl asked what people want to know and we replied that we want to know the details around the key indicators that show the club are being run well and on the right track.

While on the subject of the accounts, we stated that there was £1.9m listed on the accounts for buildings and assets and if we don’t own anything (stadium, land, training ground) why does this show as an asset to the club. Karl advises it depends on the lease agreement in place but without seeing this, he couldn’t confirm for certain.

– Q. What is the current situation with the North Stand?

Karl said he doesn’t see any benefit of doing a deal (to purchase the stadium) at this stage given the situation (the pandemic). A lot of the safety issues have been addressed already, but there are a few things in the North Stand and a few things in Main Stand that need sorting. Ultimately they want to get the North Stand/stadium under the clubs control. Karl also added that “nobody else is in with a shout in those conversations”.

We asked if fans were allowed back in stadiums for the game against Cheltenham, which stands would be open. Karl confirmed that only the North Stand couldn’t open.

– Q. Are rent payments up to date following the court case in March.

Karl said he had asked the question and was told that “what was agreed to a certain time, has been paid” and “When we had problems in March (when we ended up in court) that has all been paid”. Karl said he suspected that there may be a stand-off until things are progressed further in relation to the stadium and everything would be wrapped up under that agreement. What he does know is that no one is knocking on the door saying “you better pay this or else” as was certainly the case when he was at Bury.

– Q. Was everyone paid on time in October?

Everyone was paid for October on time. EFL iFollow money came in at the end of September which helped. Karl said he wasn’t sure about the ‘pay period’ that has been previously mentioned but you would have a set day for pay and then it may stretch a few days after that.

– Q. With the EFL looking at potential points deductions for late payment of wages (as per Macclesfield), how would they view the above?

With regards to points deductions for late or non-payment of wages, a lot depends on how this is communicated to the players by the club as to how the EFL will view it.

– Q. Will the club be claiming under their Business Interruption insurance for loss of profits following the recent test case which set a precedent by ruling in favour of the claimant?

The club are investigating claiming under their business interruption insurance for a loss of profits during the pandemic. Shahed will be looking at the paperwork with a view to submitting a claim.

– Q. What is the current situation with the LED boards (after they were switched off for recent home games)?

Karl got an independent person to look at the LED boards and the concern is that they aren’t fit for purpose and they have been switched off as a result. We advised that fans had invested in the boards (originally finding for a scoreboard) and have a vested interest in this and why they aren’t being used. Therefore any action taken would need to take into consideration the fan feeling.

– Q. What things would you say you have changed at the club since you have arrived?

Karl said it’s fair to say communication has improved and while sometimes it can lack substance/detail which is frustrating, he is working on that more as he gets his feet under the table. He has tried to get involved on twitter and have dialogue with supporters. He enjoys the banter and he has certainly sensed the mood of supporters but can also see the passion that we have for the club.

There has been great buy in from the staff and he is trying to bring more unity within the football club. He wants us to do things the right way all around the club, whether it be the first team, the community trust etc and he wants us to be the best football club that we can be in every aspect, whether that is dealing with the local community, local business’ etc

Fan on the Board

While discussing the topic of the board set up and future board meetings, we queried this role as we (as fans) haven’t heard much to date. It would be good to quantify what this role is and how it benefits the fans or indeed whether it is designed to do so.

To be clear, we are not talking about the Trust Representative on the board of directors, we are taking about the role of Richard Bowden.

#FREEWHEATZ

We spoke about our campaign and pointed out that while we are paying his wages and we are shipping a lot of goals, does it not make sense to have David Wheater in the team/squad. Karl said DW is currently injured. He was concussed in a game at Wythenshawe a few weeks ago and then upon returning after the mandatory 2 weeks, he picked up a back injury and remains unfit. PTB pointed out that a player would not be sent to train with the youth team if they were in contention for a starting place. Karl said the club were looking to provide an update on this.

We still had a few queries to relay to Karl but sadly his laptop battery died so we were unable to get a full response. We have followed up our remaining queries via email. These were related to:

– Season Ticket Refunds following new Lockdown
– Supporter Liason Officer
– Clarification on David Wheater’s Situation

As soon as we receive a response on the outstanding queries we shall provide a supplementary update to round things off fully. It was a very open and honest meeting on both sides and we are again appreciative of the willingness to engage and we hope that this gives supporters some information that they are looking for. We will obviously continue to push for a resolution to pertinent issues at the club, to convey the feeling of fans and create a platform where we can be treated with the respect that we sorely deserve. We will also continue to offer our assistance to Karl in order to help him in his role.

Reclaim The Faith

PTB