So what would make me get a season ticket?
A change of ownership
So what would make me get a season ticket?
A change of ownership
Because its cheaper for me now
Just read this thread tonight and I realise that my whinging about the M6 car park/Smart motorway death trap from 16 to 19 from our area is of nothing to what you go through.
Good on yer my friend, you are a star, the club should be asked to reward folk like you who give so much in their love of the Saddlers.
Deja vu , groundhog day
Sounds very familiar
My trip from Liverpool feels local. Hats off sir.
I’ll renew. It is good for the soul and mind. My brain couldn’t get a better work out than going through 45 years worth of seasons, about 1200 games and around 500 players, comparing it all to this lot now and trying to remember worse teams, players, formations and games. It’s an absolute ■■■■■■■ hoot.
Thank you to many of you on here that took the trouble to comment on my previous post. Sometimes
you can feel isolated being a Saddlers supporter outside the Midlands, (although there are a few of us in the South), and these forums play an important role in connecting we relative exiles with fellow supporters.
I am not the only one who travels long distances to watch the Saddlers, but whether you travel from Bloxwich or Brixton we all want to see our beloved team compete and try to play football in the right way. As many have said in this and previous threads, what will really persuade people to turn up in greater numbers is the home form. This has been very, very disappointing over the last few seasons to say the least! But we live in perpetual optimism, (usually against all common sense!)
Sadly, for me it all went wrong today.
Driving up from home saw me still at Wycombe at 2 pm following horrendous traffic. Will have to get home again and hope to hear some of the commentary. Only the second time that I have failed to get to a game because of traffic.
Fingers crossed for a home win today; sadly without me. Safe travelling to all who get there this afternoon.
That’s rotten luck Teddington - Safe journey back home and let’s hope for the 3 points (for us all but especially for those that travel long distances to follow the Saddlers…)
An old recap. Bare in mind thats another 4 million plus in rent and god knows how much in sold players and loan repayments took. Saw enough at the forum to feel things still not right and the adulation still there for Bonser.
Walsall, that solid Football League citizen, in box-like Banks’s Stadium by the banks of the M6, seems an unlikely club for protest. Yet fans are in revolt, and their target looks surprising too: Jeff Bonser, Black Country lad and Saddlers fan-made good – in bath grips and toilet flush handles - 21 years an apparently model chairman.
Unlike Bury, Stockport County and other lower division contemporaries with which Bonser compares Walsall, his club have progressed to steady respectability, never slunk into administration, had four years in the Championship, 1999-2000, and 2001-04, and did not collapse when they went down.
The objectors, though – more numerous, according to Bob Thomas, supporters trust chairman, than the vocal core whom Bonser laments – accuse the owner of feathering his nest at the club’s expense. They point in particular to the extraordinary split in his ownership of Walsall. He and his brother Robert own a majority of the club shares personally, but hold the stadium separately – in their pension fund. Walsall Football Club pay rent, to play in their own home ground, £460,000 this year, to the chairman’s pension fund. Since the brothers bought the lease in 1995, the club has paid £4.5m rent into their pension fund.
“In his overall stewardship, there could have been many worse chairmen than Jeff Bonser,” acknowledges Thomas. “But many fans feel very strongly that financially, he has looked after himself first.”
This month, Bonser suddenly put the stadium, not the club, up for sale. With that rent of £460,000, which rises with inflation, the brothers can expect a buyer to pay £7m-£8m for it to their pension fund. In a detailed interview with the Guardian, a request Bonser granted because, he says, he wanted his own perspective heard, he says he is selling because of the protests: “I haven’t lost my love of football, but of being involved in football. I’m getting personal grief, I don’t go to the games any more. The fans will appreciate what they had with me, when I’ve gone.”
The roots of this tale of football, land and money lie in the early 1990s, in the sprawling former sewage works where Walsall built their new stadium after selling tumbledown Fellows Park for £5.7m. The club put all that was left after repaying debts and other costs, into the land clean up and construction, but Severn Trent, the landowners, did not sell the freehold. The club was always a tenant, paying £75,000 annual rent initially, rising with inflation.
Bonser took over in May 1991, when the developer ran into financial difficulties, buying, as he describes it, “two commodities”. The first was 78% of the club shares. The second was the lease of the new stadium, which cost £300,000. He and Robert bought that “commodity,” with their pension fund, and from then, the club paid rent to it, and it, at first, paid a small sum to Severn Trent. Then in 1995, the brothers’ pension fund bought the freehold too, in a land swap deal.
Bonser’s explanation for doing this is that the pension fund was a better vehicle for investing in ground improvements. “Football clubs can’t borrow money from banks – they’re considered a bad risk because of the idiots who run them and the 50-odd clubs which have been insolvent [since 1992],” he says. “Owning the ground in the pension fund meant we could invest in it.”
Bonser’s core justification is that he has invested solidly in the club via his pension fund, albeit with rent coming back at a commercial rate. He has loaned £1.9m to the club interest free and never taken a salary or expenses. When he told a local newspaper the club has never paid a penny into his pension fund, he says he was referring to not being paid a pension as part of any salary. He is straightforwardly open that his and Robert’s pension fund, administered now by Suffolk Life Annuities, does own the stadium, and does receive the handsome rent from the club.
A working man forged in the Black Country, Bonser has at his fingertips financial details going back years, the niceties of tax and pension law, all that has come in and all that has gone out. He lists the investments in the stadium since he bought it: an all-weather pitch the club rented out, a “top quality” entertaining facility called, with due modesty, the Bonser Suite, the new Floors-2-Go stand, a further conference suite, a huge, lucrative advertising billboard in prime position on the M6 and £600,000 made from surrendering some land to hotel developers.
In total, Bonser says, his pension fund has invested £3.8m. Whenever it does, the rent increases by a commercial percentage, around 7%, of that investment. The club pays that from then on, but also keeps all the additional income generated by the investments. In its first year the billboard, which cost his pension fund £400,000, made £183,000 net for the club, he says.
“That’s my frustration. An ordinary fan sees the £460,000 rent and would say: ‘Bonser’s lining his pockets.’”
He points out that his pension fund could have made a much greater return if it had invested £3.8m over the years in commercial ventures or property, than in the Banks’s.
“The fans see the rent increased but they don’t see the money we spent and the money Walsall Football Club will make every year. I was a fan from my Dad taking me to my first game in 1949, age four. I love the club and want the best for it, and that is how we put it on strong foundations, unlike many others.”
Yet it has also, clearly, been shrewd work. When Bonser first looked at the 40 acres of old sewage muck, he understood the brass was in the stadium – the land – not the club itself. To many fans any reckoning, that Bonser may be about even overall – before, that is, the plum profit he and Robert stand to make when selling the stadium –must include concrete facts. He never reunited Walsall with the stadium the club spent all its money helping to build, and he, and his pension fund, have done very well.
“I don’t believe Jeff Bonser is the evil monster that many do,” says Thomas. "But neither do I see him as the benign philanthropist. Yes, there has been investment in the ground, and it is true the club has had the benefit of it, but he’s done very nicely out of Walsall FC. “Now, with the rent at £460,000 and increasing every year, and the ground on the open market so anyone could buy it, fans are very worried about the club’s future.”
Bonser has fallen back on the lament of many lower division club chairmen, coming to the end of their time and making exits from which they stand to profit: the fans do not appreciate him any more. “Walsall Football Club won’t find another landlord to invest in it like we have,” he argues. “Another landlord will just want the rent; end of.”
2nd halves like that would!!
You’d be able to buy the freehold by the end of the season!
I am buying my three anyway but if we can start to play like we did for 45 minutes today then there will be no problem with selling tickets.
Honestly - even though I usually cant make enough games to even make it economic - Im almost 100% going to get one as soon as the early bird offer starts.
I’d like to see us strengthen and also reduce squad size a bit - but will always support regardless
Pick a team to win instead of picking a team to try and stop the opposition’s strengths and we’d get more bums on seats. It’s pretty obvious that fans appreciate a side that gets in the faces of the opposition and attacks them, at home especially.
Hi TS, Are you the guy who used to travel up with my daughter claire to the games when she was at Kingston University?
Exactly mate can understand making us tough to beat on our travels and counter attack… At home the onus is on us to start on the front foot. And give the opposition something to think about. Really happy tonight after we rose from the dead with that comeback. Just hope Darryl has learned from this though as we got out of jail. .specical mention for Adebayo was excellent today he needs to keep it up UTS
Exactly. Listen to Clarke’s post match interview. The team he picked was all about the opposition and the weather. He needs to believe in his players a bit more.
My thoughts exactly, but In his defence they haven’t given him much to be confident about. Especially against the top 6.
He was brutally honest again, I think he’s fully aware his players dug him out another huge hole today.
More games like today’s! I want to see entertainment and us winning more than we lose at home.
Fixed that for you