Writer: Robyn Richards
Date:Thursday March 31 2011
Chairman Jeff Bonser has given a rare interview to The Guardian and declares Walsall supporters don't consider the good things he does at the club.
Tensions started to build at this time last season as fans blamed the chairman for putting his own financial priorities ahead of Walsall Football Club. The biggest gripe is that Bonser owned the land (through a pension with Suffolk Life Annuities) and charges the club a princely £460,000 to play on it.
Put this on top of the huge advertising hoarding that bellows outside the stadium and onto the M6 that charges £600,000 for advertising, events in the (mediocre) Bonser Suite and various other sponsorship deale.g. floors to go, you will see Bonser sees a life outside of football at the stadium. This all exemplified by the description on Twitter for the club being 'football stadium and event hosts.'
However, Bonser says he's not all bad as Walsall supporters make him out to be.
He said in the interview: 'The fans see the rent increased but they don't see the money (£1.9 million interest free) we spent and the money Walsall Football Club will make every year...I love the club and want the best for it, and that is how we put it on strong foundations, unlike many others.'
This is somewhat supported by the fact that Walsall recorded a (small) profit for the last year and have not found themselves in financial difficulty, unlike other clubs.
However, this in itself has been criticised by fans as he seems unwilling to put the funds and wages to drive the club forward.
As the stadium went up for sale last month, Bonser says supporters do not know how good they've got it and says he cares more about the club that other potential landlords would.
'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.'
Bonser is a businessmen out to find new deals and make money, that you can't take away from anyone. However, he no longer attends games fearing fans backlash and a plethora of loan players have arrived this season with no proper signings. Wages remain low in comparison at the club, making it hard to attract quality players. It is unclear whether Bonser will exit when a new buyer of the club is found but Walsall needs a real injection of passion, as well as money if we are to mount a serious challenge on league one. After all, fans don't really care about the money, they care about the football.
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Date:Thursday March 31 2011
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