Following the launch of the 2017/18 kits, Macclesfield Town lay on a special Fans Forum where supporters put questions to Chairman Mark Blower, Sir John, Steve Watson and Nick Bianchi.
The Forum started with Mr Bianchi passionately thanking the club and the fans for a memorable season last year and stating how he hoped that we would move forward together again this season.
Following this, the Forum was opened up to questions from the floor – the first of which coming from the absolute hero that is Harry Stokes. Harry asked John who he thought would win the National League this season, the response was predictably Macclesfield Town.
A question was then raised regarding how the budget for this season compares to that of previous campaigns and how that may or may not affect the size of the squad which we have to work with.
Well we are looking to have about 17 or eighteen players. We have the lowest budget in the league but we have said that before and always done well.
Last year we competed well and if we had another centre forward then would no doubt have been in the play-offs.
But we are always positive and have brought in some good players already, although we are probably looking at bringing in another 6 or 7 more in”.
Big Jim then took centre stage and asked Mark Blower why we are offering senior players 44 week contracts rather than the full 52 week package.
Well it is not unusual for clubs in our League to be offering 44 week contracts, so we are certainly not alone in that. The structure which we work to is a pretty simple one -throughout May and June we have no real income and therefore it would be difficult to honour contracts which pay during the summer.
Other clubs don’t start paying their players until the start of the season”.
A supporter then asked Mark Blower about the claim that we have the smallest in the League and what this is based on. Also it was asked if we are analysing what similar clubs are doing to compete with what they have more efficiently.
Well we do have the lowest budget in the League. Nobody publishes their budgets but after talking with other clubs then they seem pretty clued up with this. Also, we get to find out some information when negotiating with agents.
Clearly we cannot be 100% sure that ours is the lowest but it is what it is. We consistently are punching above our weight but we want to go further than that.
Most club’s have active benefactors putting money in to the club and what you need to realise is that in isolation, running a club is nigh on impossible.
However, Dan Ackerley is doing a fantastic job with promoting the club to sponsors which includes the boards around the ground and also our main sponsors Arighi Bianchi.
But it is the fans who are the backbone of the club – they always have been. Whether it is through season tickets or shirt sales for example, it is the fans who keep the club going.
We run a tight ship and have over 50 volunteers working for the club and we are incredibly grateful for them”.
The next question from the floor got back to footballing matters, as it was noted that we seemed to bringing a few players in who had captained their previous side, and so the question was asked who would be our Captain this season?
We were talking about this yesterday, and you know the players we have lost have gone now so we have to move forward.
I am delighted with the signings which we have made so far, we have made literally call after call but if other teams are offering three or four times the money which we are then obviously they will go.
But after training for the last week or so, I am massively positive that we will have leaders all over the pitch.
When we look at players then we look at their character as well as their ability on the pitch.
Sir John then added to this;
To be honest we haven’t decided yet – we need to know the players a bit better and see them play before we can make that decision.
Having said that, I want 11 captains out on the pitch – it is a team game so for me it doesn’t really matter one iota who the Captain is.
Sir John and Steve Watson were then asked to sum up the signings which we have brought in so far and asked what they will bring to the club.
Well we obviously know Shwan Jalal and he is as safe as houses and really good to have around the place too so I was delighted that we could bring him back.
Jared was a kid who I was with at West Brom, he has got bags of experience and is a leader on the pitch as well as still being as good as anyone in this League.
Scott Wilson is great movement and is a brilliant athlete so we were pleased to bring him here.
The mic was then handed over to Sir John although he laughed off suggestions that he could not remember who else we had signed!
We have brought in Keith Lowe as a replacement for John McCombe, so we were really pleased to be able to do that as he is a really good pro at this level.
Courtney Richards has also come in as a central midfielder. He is very strong and still only 23 so he has time to develop further but even now he is a really good leader on the pitch.
Scott Burgess is a lad who we have brought in from Bury and played 20 odd games for them last season and has bags of potential, as does Ryan Lloyd who were were also able to bring in to the club.
Then we have Josh Thompson who did have a serious knee injury and we will have to be patient with him, but once fully fit then he will be a really decent player for us.
So really we have plenty of experience at the back and legs upfront which is what I want.
Danny Whitaker never signs until about October so if anyone sees him then give him a nudge for me!
So we have the nucleus of a really good side, and things are going well at the minute.
Everyone likes a moan from time to time but we had a good season last year and have done for the last 3 or 4 years to be honest. We have to stay positive, we know our limitations but they really don’t make a difference out on the pitch.
There is no better feeling than that which we experienced at Tranmere last season and hopefully we will have many more days like that.
We are chasing for promotion back to the Football League – for ourselves and also for you the fans.
It was an unbelievable turnout at Wembley and if we can encourage a few of them to come to home matches then it really will make for a better atmosphere.
We need to all stick together and hopefully we will have another great season.
The second part of the Fans Forum report will be published once my wrist recovers from trying to write everything down this evening!