Q & A | Operational Board Q&A - Part 3

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Tue 17 Dec 2019

We continue our Q&A with the operational board…

Ken Davies & Peter Jones asked a similar question: What is the role and responsibilities of Carl Darlington?

Spencer Harris: Thank you Ken and Peter, Your questions were very similar so I will answer with the requested details. We have a detailed structure of who is responsible for what in the Football Department. The tool is known as a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) for those who know the model.

The aspects of running the Football Department that are covered in the RACI are as follows (there are multiple sub sections not shown here):
-Football Philosophy
-First Team Player Recruitment – external
-First Team Player Recruitment – internal from Youth / CFE
-Academy / Youth U18 Recruitment
-CFE Recruitment U9-U16
-Management of the First team
-Management of the Academy and Youth
-External Football Communications
-Internal Football Communications
-First Team Finance
-First Team Administration and Organisation

Carl’s role within this RACI structure includes:

Consulted on (i.e. has a staff input to but does not have final say);
- Football Networking
- Type of football we play
- Evaluating and watching players
- Identification and due diligence on player targets
- Team selection and tactics
- Post match review and analysis
- Organising training sessions
- Leading training sessions
- Player fitness & Strengthening
- Teamwork development & motivation
- Opposition scouting and analysis

Carl has also helped the club with building capability and role descriptions for our Analyst and other staff roles and has provided links between the Football Club, Glyndwr University and the FAW Trust.

Gaz Trow asked: Is it true that we have turned down interest/investment from a local consortium twice in the last few months?

John Mills: Hi Gaz. This is untrue. To date, no consortium\interested parties have never been told that we are not interested, we have had few interested parties whilst the Club has been under WST control, none of which have gone beyond the initial enquiry stage.

If any seriously interested group did want to take their interest further, there is a process voted in by the WST membership to deal with it, and should that interest prove to be creditable, the Membership would be notified immediately. The reason the process was put in place is to deter ‘tyre kicker’ types which could incur significant costs to the Club but would lead nowhere.

Jackie Mason asked: Do you think the unrest among the fans is actually affecting the players performances on the field?

Dixie McNeil: Hello Jackie, good question! depends on the player obviously. Believe it or not when you are playing your concentration is so high you never hear the crowd. Your mind is either set on when I’ve got the ball and what am I going to do with it or what space can I get into to receive it. However, if you are being booed or shouted at all the while it may get to some of the players.

Several Supporters asked a similar question: Why do we have to charge potential outside investors a fee just to talk to us?

Mark Williams: A process was voted by members at the WST AGM in 2018 that outlines the process the Society Board has to follow. These are the first five stages of the process:

1.Approach to Society Board
2.Signing of a non-disclosure agreement
3.Initial meeting with investor
4.Trust Board review the investment proposal
5.Covering expenditure of the Society and its representatives

At stage 5 there is a requirement for a bidder to deposit £5,000 + RPI but you can see this is after an initial meeting has taken place. The £5,000 is to cover the Society’s costs e.g. if an investor requires a lot of financial information I may have to take unpaid leave or we may have to appoint a financial advisor in my absence and this is to cover our costs as it is normal that a buyer would cover costs. I have been involved with company acquisitions from both sides of the table through my day job and it is usual for the buyer to pay all of the seller’s costs in relation to a transaction

Neil Lloyd asked: Why didn’t the club do anything in 2016 for the euro’s, we are quick enough to accommodate ub40 and Olly Murs, but our fans really needed a base for them to full enjoy at least some flavour of the euros party (i was out in france)

Gavin Jones: Hi Neil. Basically, it wasn’t our stadium to hold any Euro party.  The club didn’t take on full control of the stadium until August 2016 – that was after the Euros. At the time we had a license in place with Glyndwr to play 30 matches and to have an office base’

Also Neil asked: We have a great away following, maybe the club could offer some deals on away days, surely putting a few coaches up for free travel wouldn't break the bank yet would back the players away from home where we have struggled all season

Gavin Jones: We do. A reduction of £2 for WST Members. We offer a not-for-profit away travel system. The club don’t run the buses to make money. A recent example was the match at Eastleigh where we only had 12 supporters booked onto the coach but we did not alter the prices or type of coach as we aim to make the away travel break even over a season.

Kevin Hampson asked: Do you think the appointments made on managers has been the right one over the last 3 seasons?

John Mills: Hi Kevin. One problem in football is the unpredictability of how all the parts that contribute to success fit together, especially when one of the key parts is the manager. For every successful manager, and not just at Wrexham, 95% are, by definition, failures by not gaining promotion, winning leagues etc. So, when you employ a manager, you are always looking at that very high percentage of expected failure. It doesn’t mean you expect it, but you try to ensure you at least give the manager, and hence the club the best chance of success by applying as many criteria during the selection process as possible, include industry knowledge when available and base your selection on their capabilities, not their popularity, name or reputation. And, of course, availability. Good managers are usually already in work, which then means you have the issue of dealing with their employers, who would be reluctant to allow their manager to leave, as we have been with other clubs.

Have we got it right? In some cases, yes, in others no. And to throw into the mix, when we do get it right, and the signs of success start showing, you are then vulnerable to higher placed clubs poaching their services. Because Wrexham is a big high profile club our managers tend to get noticed more than others. However, this isn’t just at Wrexham, but, as we’ve discovered over the years, football is an industry out on its own regarding how it works.

Mark Barns asked: Since the WST took over the running of the football club, there have between seven and nine non-caretaker managerial appointments, depending on whether you count Andy Morrell and Andy Davies. (The others are Kevin Wilkin, Gary Mills, Dean Keates, Sam Ricketts, Graham Barrow, Bryan Hughes, and Keates again.) How many of those do you think you have got right, and how do you think that ratio compares with other football clubs?

Spencer Harris: Hello Mark. Andy Morrel was appointed on the say so of the WST whilst still under the ownership of Geoff Moss so we should include him. It is our view that the turn over of managers has been too high. However three of the eight managers employed by us left for either personal reasons or were poached by clubs significantly higher in the Football Pyramid.

Those who have worked out best are Andy Morrell, Sam Ricketts and Dean Keates. Bryan Hughes achieved 28 points in his first 15 games to get us within a win against Leyton Orient away from winning the League, but then was in charge when the results resulted in our worst first half of a season under Trust ownership and ultimately left the club because of it.

On the comparison with other clubs it is difficult to compare directly without doing a large scale analysis exercise so everybody would likely have differing opinions on whether we have fared better or worse.

Mark Barns: In hindsight, what decision as a Board do you regret most since you took over?

Spencer Harris: The appointment of Gary Mills as First Team Manager despite it probably being the most universally accepted and welcomed appointment during our tenure.

Mark Barns: In hindsight, what accomplishment as a Board are you most proud of?

Spencer Harris: See the list to Alan Edwards question and we are proud of all of that. Although we are in positions of leadership there are many people who have contributed to all of that and each deserve credit.

Mark Barns: In your opinion, what type of person would you most like to be able to add to the football board, if such a person was willing?

Spencer Harris: That is really a question for the WST Board. However, the type of characteristics needed to be on the Board are:

- Someone who has only the interests of the Club at heart – is in it for the club
- Someone who is willing to take a lead, communicate honestly despite sometimes facing criticism
- Someone who has the experience and ability to digest and understand situations and therefore make business decisions.
- Person who has the capability to take on major projects and also the ‘availability’ (either has the time or makes the time at the expense of other parts of their life) to be able to deliver what they say they are going to do
- Someone with knowledge of Football and the peculiarities of how it operates but yet understands it is a business with real employees

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