Amar AlKadhi contacted me by telephone on the afternoon of the 1st April 2019 before the 5p.m. deadline where we held discussion about the situation regarding London Road and non payment of wages to players and staff. Here is a summary of the context of the conversation which I got Sean to listen in on to add as much objectivity as possible!!
LONDON ROAD UPDATE:
- Amar spoke of how a statement had gone out yesterday highlighting the rationale as to why a decision was made to close sections of the London Road terrace which he reaffirmed was due to abusive language and intimidating behaviour from a number of people in London Road. I advised Amar that from what I had seen on the unofficial message boards that the response to this had been far from positive with a generic feeling that ‘a hammer to crack a nut’ approach had been taken with the subsequent effect that many people who have never been abusive or intimidatory have been unfairly treated. Amar acknowledged that some people had been unfairly adversely affected and offered assurances that the situation would be reviewed at the end of the season.
- Amar stated that he himself had been the subject of a number of episodes of verbal abuse and that he had bore the brunt of racist comment as well which he said he was able to manage because he was ‘thick skinned’ regarding such matters.
- Amar stated that after reflection of the events of the Stevenage game, it had been decided to open the central part of London Road terrace but only to season ticket holders at this time. Amar reaffirmed that the situation would be reviewed at the end of the season.
- I stated that the lack of communication about the matter had led to all sorts of operational issues akin to chaos such as late entry into the football ground and difficulties in accessing the popular Butch’s Bar from both London Road and Star Lane End at half-time. Amar did not comment on this point and detracted away from it.
- I asked Amar why could not a less draconian measure have been used such as an increased steward presence in that vicinity that could quickly identify those who were actually subjecting others to this intimidating behaviour / abusive language and undertake a suitable protocol that is reflected within the club’s behaviour policy that the use of threatening behaviour, foul and abusive behaviour, racial, homophobic and discriminatory abuse chanting and harassment can result in arrest and / or ejection from the ground. Amar stated that in view of the current climate surrounding racism in football, he wanted to reduce any risks that the club could be implicated in such a way if such events were potentially caught on camera. I subsequently indicated that the club has a history of employing Black, Asian and other non-white minority ethnic (BAME) managers in recent years as well as a number of BAME players, and that from a personal perspective, that despite the relatively low numbers of ethnic minorities in the town, that I had rarely witnessed racial overtones.
- I advised Amar that Dean Holmes (who helps to run Butch’s Bar) had highlighted to me that bar takings for the Stevenage game were £550 less than that of the previous game which is a not insignificant amount of money when considering the club’s recently highlighted financial problems. This was not helped by people from Star Lane End (SLE) not been able to access Butch’s Bar. Amar stated that he has been in conversation with Bob Trafford regarding this matter and as a result, has tasked him with managing the logistics associated with the operational issues of this at future games.
NON PAYMENT OF WAGES TO PLAYING AND NON PLAYING STAFF AT MTFC:
- Amar described a ‘fluid’ situation regarding the club’s finances and that he is guided by those involved in day to day dealings with the club as to how much he is expected to underwrite for the club and that this is reviewed monthly.
- Amar spoke of how there had been significant recent investment to try to retain the club’s EFL status and clearly highlighted that this was in spite of the bookmakers effectively having us as relegated before Christmas.
- Amar stated that the most recent problems with paying wages on time were linked to the postponement of the Exeter game that led to a £30,000 shortfall and ‘disappointing season ticket sales for this stage of the season’ that meant that the club were somewhere in the region of 40% down in terms of revenue in comparison to recent years.
- Amar stated that until a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is appointed he would be acting in that role. Amar was unsure as to when the new CEO would be appointed.
- I advised Amar that there was strong feeling amongst the Silkmen faithful that this was becoming an all too frequent occurrence which was bound to impact upon the morale of the Silkmen players and backroom staff at such a crucial time in the season when we are trying to retain our EFL status. Amar acknowledged this and stated that he would be doing all in his power to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future.
The discussion with Amar provided more questions than answers. Based upon the responses, we as the Silkmen Supporters Trust will now consider initiating more proactive approaches such as those outlined in their previous letter to Amar (1st April 2019) to ensure a better matchday experience for our loyal and passionate fan base and timely payment of wages for our brilliant players and backroom staff.
Chairperson of the Silkmen Supporters Trust