Representatives of the club met a group of 30 supporters at a meeting held at the Proact on Wednesday evening.
In attendance were directors Ashley Carson, Chris Breeze and John Croot, together with chief executive Chris Turner and Nick Johnson, head of media & communications.
Ten representatives of Bob’s Board were invited to attend, along with the same amount from Bridge Inn Blues Away Travel Club and the Chesterfield FC Fans Group on Facebook.
Welcoming everyone, Ashley said: “It was my idea to have the meeting and it seemed sensible to have the three groups here. I hope you’ll appreciate that we do understand there has been a lack of dialogue with fans. We won’t solve every problem tonight but I do want this to be the first step to building bridges. There are no hidden agendas and the chairman is fully behind this initiative.”
There was a full and frank exchange between both parties in a meeting lasting over three hours. In summary, some of the main points raised included the following:
- Re International Academy (formerly known as the Development Centre). CT admitted that it had been “a nightmare” over the last six months, while pointing out that the club has received various benefits such as staffing and housing for young players and trialists. Furthermore, he said that the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) would have failed without Liam Sutcliffe’s input.
- CT and AC revealed they had both personally invested five-figure sums in the International Academy to cover debts.
- CT said the CFC branding will be removed from the CFC Village.
- When questioned about individuals who made promises of attracting investment in the club, which subsequently failed to materialise, Ashley said: “We live and learn by it. We’ll be a lot more diligent in the future and it won’t happen again.”
- CT said he had no knowledge of the raffle which was organised with the offer of two places on the pre-season trip to Hungary. In the wake of the scandal over the raffle, AC added that Chesterfield Borough Council said they were satisfied with the running of Spire Lotto and other draws organised by the club.
- CT & AC pointed out that player sales have been necessary to cover the financial shortfall.
- AC revealed that there will be a £1.5m shortfall by the end of the season which will need to be addressed by the chairman or player sales.
- AC revealed that the mortgage agreed with A&S Leisure is more cost effective as it is paid on a reducing debt, month by month.
- The chairman is proposing that all interest payments on directors’ loans are stopped, including his own.
- CT confirmed that he had initially opposed plans for the introduction of Premier League U21 teams in the Checkatrade Trophy, adding: “It was forced upon clubs in the end.”
- AC said that the possibility of closing the Club Superstore on Wednesdays is being considered. “It is the day of the week when there are little sales,” he said. The Club Superstore should be opened on Saturdays on non-matchdays in the lead up to Christmas, he added.
- It was suggested that Jim Brown’s loyal service to the club should be rewarded with a testimonial. “I think that’s a good point,” said Ashley.
- Re plans to mark the club’s 150th anniversary, CT said that an invitation had been sent to Rangers to play in a game. AC admitted that the club had been guilty of not doing enough for the fans in term of a celebration, adding that he had not been in favour of the gala ball held at Chatsworth House.
- AC revealed that talks were in place regarding a potential concert at the Proact next year.
- Commenting on the strength of the squad, CT said: “The chairman believes, as I do and Danny does, that when they’re all fit and playing, we can compete in this league.”
- CT revealed that the second-year option on Ched Evans is on the club’s terms.
- When the subject of the club’s IT system was brought up, AC said that it had been “a thorn in the side ever since it was installed at the stadium”. He pointed out that Shrewsbury Town’s IT system cost £180,000 while the one installed at the Proact cost £750,000, describing it as a “complete over-spend”. The IT contract was recently awarded to SBK Computers, whose MD Steve Coe stated his company could save the club at least £10,000-a-year. “What the club has had in the past has been horrendous,” he said.
It is proposed that similar meetings will be held in the future with other fans being given the opportunity to attend. AC has suggested that the next one take place towards the end of January.