On Tuesday afternoon, representatives of both PTB and OASF met via Zoom with club chairman Abdallah Lemsagam along with board member Adam Morallee. We thank them both for their time.
The meeting lasted for 90 minutes in total and the time was used to discuss the feeling of frustration amongst fans that culminated in repeated on-pitch protests over recent weeks.
Both fan representatives tried to convey the feeling of why we have ended up in this position. The level of questioning was very direct from both sides and the following matters were discussed (not an exhaustive list):
– The Sporting Director role
– Previous regime
– Stadium ownership
– The 3/5 year plan
As well as wanting to convey the true sense of dissatisfaction and disassociation amongst fans, we wanted signs that this had been heard and fully acknowledged by the custodians of the club. Sadly we came away from the call not feeling this was the case and that it was highly unlikely that a significant change in approach would be forthcoming (in our current opinion).
Obviously, it was incredibly frustrating to hear that the gravity of the situation wasn’t felt by the owner and that the feeling of anger was mainly down to results on the pitch. We explained that poor results is something we are used to, but it has never deterred fans from attending games and has never led to protests like we have seen recently. We tried to explain that this is NOT about results and even if there are 4/5 consecutive wins, it wouldn’t absolve the club of its behaviour off the pitch. By the same token, poor results on the pitch don’t define how we as fans feel (albeit, when staring at the trapdoor to non-league, we can’t afford to be complacent).
Mr Lemsagam stated a lot of work had been done to get the club back in a stable footing, following the position we were left in by the previous regime and this work continues. We explained that while we don’t doubt that there were inherent issues and that the decline of the club didn’t start 3 years ago, we are 3+ years down the line and we have to address the here and now. Whether the owners feel at fault for the current situation is irrelevant, we are here now and something drastic needs to happen.
The role of the sporting director was discussed and that to make a decision in the best interest in the running of the club and to send a statement of intent, would be to remove him from his role and let the current manager have full control over the playing side of things. It was made clear that this wouldn’t happen and that the chairman is happy with his performance. We feel that for numerous managers to face the axe while the Sporting Director remains in place, amidst our poorest recruitment in living memory, gives the impression that he has security of tenure. This is obviously a valid concern for both ourselves and for supporters.
While we have seen a recent coming together between PTB and OASF (and we fully expect this to continue), we also have to appreciate that we are different entities that can achieve results in different ways. The Trust can exercise their right to challenge the club in the manner they see fit and we fully support their right to do so and feel the correct personnel is there to truly hold the club to account. As with the OASF statement released this morning, the club have agreed to respond by the end of the week with next steps
From a PTB perspective, we still feel that the relationship is untenable and that while Mr Morallee chaired the meeting professionally and tried to offer suggestions, we cannot be sure whether there is the desire at the very top to make the fundamental changes required in order to bridge the gap between supporters and the club.
We await a response from the club on Friday but can assure fans that next steps are already being taken as a group and these will be announced in the near future.
Reclaim The Faith