WOTMT
An Open Letter to Mr Chansiri
In the current difficult situation for our club I thought I should pen this.

Dear Mr Chansiri,

Context For This Letter

Let me start this letter by saying 4 things:

1. Like me, the vast majority of Wednesdayites respect the commitment you have brought to our club and appreciate that you have invested your own money into it.

2. I have never asked any Chairman of SWFC to spend their own money on my football club and I will never do – what someone does with their money is a matter for them.

3.I have never abused you or any other Chairman, player or employee of SWFC, those people who do are totally out of order and need to be dealt with. Involving your family, or that of anyone else, is particularly repulsive. But there has to be a place for criticism and challenge and these cannot be regarded or dismissed as abuse.

4.Our club was formed 150 years ago by Sheffield people, the club has been sustained by the local community and fans since that time. It has existed before your custodianship and will continue to do so after that has ended. Fans are passionate about the football club and they invest their time, money and emotional energy into it in a way that they do not with any other transaction – fans believe that a part of them is invested in the club. I understand that you may prefer for criticism to be managed confidentially but this just isn’t the way things are done these days – passionate fans will speak publicly.

I want to raise 4 issues with you.

A New Head Coach

Most fans now accept that the 2017/18 season is now all about securing safety and avoiding relegation and thereby remaining a Championship club in 2018/19. The performances at Brentford and at home to Burton Albion were way below the standards that we aspire to – the level of commitment displayed by many of the players was disrespectful to the fans and the club. There are clearly fundamental weaknesses in the playing squad that need to be addressed, fresh coaching leadership is now urgently required – most fans are dreading the prospect of a visit to Bramall Lane on 12th January without that new leadership being in place. I think it is fair to say that most fans don’t want our club to waste time pursuing unrealistic managerial targets; they would ideally prefer something other than a recycled manager from the managerial circuit, and would probably favour a younger British manager who has served his time in the lower leagues. Whatever you do please appoint a new manager very quickly - the majority of fans will give the new manager their support and a chance to prove themselves.

Role of the CEO

You have now appointed a CEO at the club, this is a positive move and something that I have asked for and I am supportive of, but I am sure that you are aware of the history that Katrien Meire at Charlton Athletic and the negative feelings that many CAFC fans have about her. Despite being sympathetic to the feelings of CAFC fans I am willing to give Ms Meire a chance at our football club – there maybe things she has learned from her time at Charlton Athletic and will do differently now. There are though some genuine fears amongst fans regarding this appointment and it would help me and other Wednesdayites if you could answer the following questions:

  • What objectives has Ms Meire been asked to achieve at SWFC in the short, medium and long term?
  • What philosophy and values do you expect Ms Meire to apply and embody in the running of SWFC, particularly as regards fan engagement in the operation of the club?

 

A Sporting Director/Director of Football/Head of Football Operations

My message to you on this matter could not be better put than it has been already by Steve Chu, former SWFC Communications Manager, in his blog at www.stevechusthefat.wordpress.com Many fans believe our player recruitment since May 2016 has not improved the team to any significant degree – if Carlos was able to pick his best side the majority of the team would have been that which kicked off at Wembley in May 2016. The squad players who are being given the opportunity at the moment to cover for injured colleagues are short on the ability or the attitude needed. Your investment in the team has been wasted in a large part. Fans have been asked to pay increased ticket prices that contribute to funding player wages for those who are not delivering. Many fans are sceptical about the role that advisers and agents are playing in our recruitment process and the risk of vested interests – they believe we need our own skilled and knowledgeable person to lead our recruitment process. Do you accept that change is needed?

Strategy and Finances

We assume that you remain committed to the club for the medium to long term and will continue to own it. But if that is not the case then please do tell us now so that we know where we stand. Under your ownership the costs of the playing squad have increased significantly in the pursuit of a promotion challenge, this has led you to put money into the club and fans and other commercial partners to face increased prices. You may have reached the limits of what you are willing to put into the club, at the same time many fans are being stretched by ticket prices and are clearly not willing to fund the club via the Club 1867 initiative. Comments from yourself and others at the club indicate that FFP rules are impacting on what you can invest into the club. Does this mean that limits have been reached and we need a different approach that reduces costs? Other clubs have shown that success on the field can be achieved despite incurring lower costs, Huddersfield in 2017 being a good example. Is it now time for an open conversation between club and fans on what it is realistic to try to achieve financially and how we go about trying to compete at the top end of the Championship? The resulting outcome from that conversation might be something that we can all collectively buy into. There is a major decision to be made soon on season ticket renewal prices and it would be useful if that decision could be informed by this sort of conversation.

Finally

In the context of our team under-achieving considerably, currently without a manager, a squad that needs a major overhaul and finances tight, this letter has been written with the intention of trying to engage you and fans in a constructive dialogue about the future of our club. I hope that you will see it in that light and will respond positively.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Steve Walmsley

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21.01.2018
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