Archive for May, 2011

Walsall Labour Group Back Jenkins!

Neil @ 2:09 pm Monday 30 May 2011

There was a massive development in the saga of the freehold of the Banks’s Stadium today, as the Labour Group on Walsall Council have come out in favour of the Authority taking action to secure the future of the ground.

The Press Release reads:

Walsall Labour Party is calling for urgent talks on safeguarding the home of Walsall Football Club, Bescot Stadium.

Labour councillors are urging Walsall council to meet with representatives of fans and the club to see how it can ensure the team continues to play at the 11,000 seat ground built in 1990.

The call comes after the ground’s owner, multi-millionaire Jeff Bonser, announced he had put the stadium on the open market, leading to pleas by prominent fans for the council to step in and help secure its future.

That plea was rejected by Conservative council leader Cllr Mike Bird who said the authority could not step in.

Labour Group leader, Cllr Tim Oliver, said in the present economic situation the council buying the stadium might prove to be unrealistic that didn’t stop the authority using its expertise to find other ways to secure the future of Bescot.

“This out of hand rejection of a role for the council in the club’s future is short sighted, to say the least. “

“The club has a fantastic reputation within football as a well run, family friendly team which projects a positive image for the borough nationally.

“It and the stadium is a real asset to Walsall bringing in visitors and business not only on match days but also in its other activities such as conferences and leisure events. In addition it has made an important contribution to the borough by supporting numerous sporting events aimed at youngsters.”

He added: “The authority does have the skills and expertise to look at other possibilities which would open the door to the team continuing to play at Bescot. We understand that around twenty other local councils around the country have come to such arrangements for the benefit of their communities.

“It would be wrong of Walsall council to refuse to help secure the Saddlers’ future so we are calling for all parties on the council to support urgent talks with the club, fans and Mr Bonser to see how we can help save the Walsall FC’s home.”

26 Councillors down and just 5 to go!


Bid in for the freehold?

Exile @ 9:11 pm Thursday 26 May 2011

Looks like Mike Bird is trying to deflect attention from the inadequacies of the council to recognise a goose with a golden egg when it sits in front of them by suggesting that there’s already a bid in for the freehold at Walsall FC.

Obviously there’s more to come on this one and details are sketchy, but have a look at the Express and Star for to story here.

Discuss this on the messageboards link here, after you’ve clicked an option on our trite little poll.

The Freehold. I hope
  • the council buy it (44%, 114 Votes)
  • a sugar daddy buys it (44%, 114 Votes)
  • Bonser keeps it in the family (12%, 33 Votes)

Total Voters: 261

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Bombard The Council!

Neil @ 1:29 pm Friday 20 May 2011

Despite the fact that Jeff Bonser has also come out in favour of the Council buying the Bescot freehold, this is now the time to start putting pressure on the elected members.

According to the Express and Star, Steve Jenkins has written to all of the 60 Councillors, asking them to give their backing to the scheme.

The three supporters’ organisations, the Trust, Unity and the Supporters’ Club have got together to produce a letter which you can send to your local Councillor (or the Leaders of the Groups, if you live outside the Borough). The contact details for the Councillors can be found here:

The text of the letter is:

Dear Cllr

As you may be aware, there are stories in the local newspapers concerning the sale of the freehold at the Bescot Stadium, and that some people have suggested that the Council purchase this, not only to help the football club, but local communities and the Borough as a whole.

I’m aware that this has been dismissed already by the Leader of the Conservative Group, but the reason I’m writing to you today is that, as a Council, I implore that you should meet all parties (WFC and the supporters bodies) to discuss the matter and highlight the benefits that would follow, both to the council and local communities.

Without some kind of intervention, there is always the danger that the freehold could fall into the hands of someone who did not have the interests of the football club at heart and then the ever present danger of the town losing the club and, with it, something that provides the town with much of its identity.

I would remind you of the words of Alan Benson, the then Mayor of Accrington, some years after the town lost its football club in the early 60s:

“People do not realise just how important a League club is to a town’s status and prestige until it is too late. Accrington was known nationally by reason of its soccer team. When you travelled to another part of the country and mentioned where you were from, people immediately linked Accrington to its football club. Now they say, ‘Ah, the town which couldn’t keep its football team’. Accrington Stanley could have survived with the proper backing.”

I firmly believe that if the council and the club were to work together more closely in the future it would be hugely beneficial to everyone in the town and its image nationally.

Yours sincerely

It’s time to step up the pressure and bombard the Councillors!

Jimmy “The Legend” Walker Close To Signing

Neil @ 2:03 pm Thursday 19 May 2011

The Express and Star is reporting that Jimmy Walker is close to signing another one year contract with the club.

Dean Smith has “revealed he has held positive talks” with Walker and is confident of tying him down for another year.

“I’m in talks with James Walker and hopefully we’re very close to agreeing something,” he said.

“I knew Jimmy from before, he’s a good lad and did really well for us last season. He’s got more to offer and I think he believes that as well.

“Hopefully we can sort something out with Jimmy as soon as possible and he can commit himself for another year. Then we’ll see where he goes from there – it might be a year but he might be capable of doing another after that.”

Walker was runner-up in the supporters’ Player of the Year poll after returning in October following a six year absence.

He helped the Saddlers to the Great Escape in League One and Smith insisted, despite the former West Ham man turning 38 in July, he hasn’t lost any drive.

“He’s a motivated lad and he really enjoyed this year,” he said. “The thing for him is he wants to see us kick on and build on the momentum. I said to all the players I don’t want to be in the position where we’re fighting for survival again – I want us to move on and carry the momentum.”

But Smith doesn’t believe Walker is eyeing Harrison’s appearance record yet because he is too focused on his game.

He said: “I don’t know with Jimmy – maybe, maybe not. I think his sole focus is on playing football. He enjoys the banter and enjoyed last season. He’s certainly got the hunger there. I had a chat with him during a round of golf and he hasn’t lost the drive as he beat me on the last hole!”

This would be the third excellent peice of news. folowing the option on Jon Macken’s contract and the signing of Andy Butler. A good signing in the centre of midfield, and the spine of the side will be looking very good indeed.

All Stars Game tonight at Bescot!

Exile @ 10:35 am Thursday 19 May 2011

Quick reminder, there’s a Walsall All Stars charity game tonight at the Bezla, raising funds for the very worthwhile Stillborn and Neonatal Death charity, SANDS, who provide support for anyone having to come to terms with the awful prospect of losing a baby or potential new life.

Only three quid adults, a couple for concessions, and you’ll see Walsall stars strutting their stuff and have a great Spring evening out as they try to stuff the Wolves “all stars” (Stevie Bull appearance not guaranteed).

This is part of a much bigger effort from WFC’s own Dan Mole and his wife Emma, who’ve set their sights on raising at least ten grand for SANDS. They’re nearly half way there but rather than steal their thunder please see their story here and read more about SANDS here.

Go on – if Leroy May can make it onto the pitch, you can get into the stands. ;-)

Legend Chris Marsh Backs Jenkins Plan

Neil @ 4:28 pm Monday 16 May 2011

Legendary full back Chris marsh became the latest high profile Saddler to back Steve Jenkins’ plan for the Council to buy the freehold of the Banks’s Stadium.

Jenkins, concerned that the ground may fall into the hands of property devleopers, called for the move over a week ago and, despite an initial rejection from the current leader of the Conservative Group, Mike Bird, the momentum seems to be gathering with Marsh’s intervention.

Marsh says:

“I would rather have someone like him, with a bit of influence and razzmatazz, trying to do something than not at all.

He’s one of the most genuine people you can meet. The fans have to back Steve all the way and hopefully we can get the council on board. If you can show me a bigger Walsall fan than Steve then I’d like to meet him.

He used to go to New York twice a month for long weekends for work but he’d fly back on a Saturday to watch Walsall and then return to New York on the Sunday. He’s the real deal.

He goes back to the Don Penn era, he lives and breathes Walsall.”

Jenkins has worked with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake and goes to as many games as his schedule allows.

But Marsh insisted, despite the glamorous lifestyle, that Jenkins always wanted to play for the Saddlers instead.

He said: “He’s a big mover and shaker in the music business and he’s got a great job. I used to say I’d swap jobs with him, but he’d always say he’d give up everything to play for Walsall and walk down the tunnel at Halifax on a wet Tuesday night.”

Marsh believes the council now need to seriously look at the proposal – because it would be a political goldmine.

He added: “It would gain you votes off fans, you would influence 5,000 to 7,000 votes. It’s a no-brainer.”

Jenkins On The Offensive Over Freehold

Neil @ 1:36 pm Friday 13 May 2011

Steve Jenkins has gone on the offensive over his proposals for the Council to buy the freehold on the ground, despite Cllr Bird dismissing the idea on Wednesday.

Jenkins has called for talks with both Jeff Bonser and Mike Bird regarding the future of the football club.

“I know Mike Bird has responded by wishing the club good luck but saying they have no interest in buying the stadium. For me it was a personal response.

My view is the stadium and the land is a far bigger issue than one councillor’s view. With the utmost respect to Mike Bird, I accept what he’s said and that it’s one vote against. As we stand it’s one against and 59 more (councillors) to go.

The council have their own problems at the moment so I’m not trying to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There’s some work I’ve got to do but I suppose I’m marking their card to say I’m coming. It’s worth being on their agenda, so let’s just talk.”

Last week’s local elections left a hung council with the parties holding talks about the future and a change could hold the key to Mr Jenkins’ proposal.
And he insisted the whole town would benefit should the council, who have rejected the idea several times, by the ground.

“Let’s say we’re moving towards the top end cost of £6m to £7m (for the ground),” he said. “If you borrow that amount of money then you’re repayments will be £225,000 to £250,000. We know the rental income from the site is £477,000 a year. So you would know the council would have £220,000 to £240,000 of income to spend for the town”.

The proposals have already been welcomed by the Supporters’ Trust and by Unity, who both see this as a positive way forward for the football club.

A statement from the Trust has already pointed out that, with the Council hung, Cllr Bird has no right to speak on behalf of the Council as a whole and this is a matter that needs to be put to the whole of the Council.

First One – Butler Signs!

Neil @ 12:17 pm Friday 13 May 2011

Player of the season and new fan’s favourite Andy Butler has signed a two year contract with the club.

Butler, who arrived part way through the season, became an immediate success, was granted the captaincy and played a huge part in the club staying up, with his drive and enthusiasm.

As I’ve said before, this man may not be the greatest footballer, but every team needs someone with his passion and will to win. Dean Smith could hardly have made a better first signing in this close season.

Butler said on the official site: “It’s great to have my future sorted out. I’ve loved every minute of my time at Walsall. “The fans took to me straight away and to captain the side has been a real honour. Next season is all about kicking on and taking the club forward and I’m delighted that I’ll be here to play a part in that.”

Dean Smith said: “I’m really pleased that Andy sees his future here at Walsall. He’s a very popular figure both amongst the fans and in the dressing room. He leads by example and is a player with great ability and an attitude to match.

I was very keen to seal his long-term future so to do so less than a week after the season has finished is very pleasing. I’m looking forward to him captaining the team again next season.”

Steve Jenkins Calls For Council To Buy Freehold

Neil @ 4:13 pm Monday 09 May 2011

The Express and Star are carrying a story that record impresario Steve Jenkins, possibly Walsall’s second most famous fan after Pete Waterman, has written an open letter to the paper calling for the Council to buy the freehold of the ground.

The report quotes Jenkins as saying:

“Having had time to think about this situation, it is my firm belief that the best way forward for Walsall Football Club is for the land to come under the ownership of the council.

Not only would that safeguard the club’s future and make sure that our team remains at the Banks’s but the local authority would gain possession of an increasingly valuable community asset”.

Jenkins, who was at the match on Saturday and tries to attend all home games, added: “I have great respect for Jeff Bonser and the job he has done with Walsall Football Club over the past 20 years. The greatest benefit of his chairmanship has been the knowledge our football team was secure, would remain intact and play their games in Walsall.

“However, I must say that I have become increasingly disappointed over the past weeks with the knowledge that the club’s land is now on general sale. This sale brings a serious feeling of insecurity and throws us back to the days of the 1980s when the club’s future was in the balance.”

Council leader Councillor Mike Bird has so far ruled out the possibility of the local authority buying the land. He said the council had no plans to buy the stadium and the 17 acres around it.

Councillor Bird said the council had been approached on “two or three occasions” in the past few years over taking over the ground but it was not something it was considering at a time when it has to save £70million.

However, following the Conservatives disatrous showing in the Local Government elections in the Borough last week, Cllr Bird may well be looking for support to shore up his creaking regime.

Bloxwich-born Jenkins insisted he wasn’t looking for the council to “bail out” the Saddlers — only to become a partnership. He wrote: “Council ownership of football stadiums is the way of the future. There are already over 20 senior clubs enjoying strong relationships with their local councils, including stadium ownership.

It’s critically important where our land and stadium ends up in this selling process and my belief is it should stay in Walsall, for the people of Walsall.”

Saddlers stay up – the Great Escape

roger6 @ 4:51 pm Saturday 07 May 2011

Nine points off safety at the beginning of the year, but today Dean Smith and the Walsall lads have stormed back from the brink to escape relegation and secure League One football for another season.

Hundreds of Saddlers fans are on the south coast celebrating – if you weren’t able to make it, leave your thoughts on the message board.

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