Next Game: Preseason Friendly - Evesham Away on Tuesday 17th July at 7.45pm

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Interview With Hereford FC's Acting Chairman - Chris Williams

After last night's Hereford FC AGM, BN spoke to acting chairman Chris Williams.

"We presented a set of accounts which have shown a surplus and we're ten points clear in the league. So the football side is also doing well.

"It's been a good meeting with lots of interesting questions from the floor.

"I'm very happy with the way the meeting went."

During the meeting mention was made of further work on the Edgar Street stadium.

"We've got certain works we have to do to this stadium - and it's a great stadium. People often say to me how nice the stadium is now, it's the best it's looked for ages and that's part of the work we've tried to do.

"There is some work we have to do every season, like replace a number of seats, because that is a committment we've made to the Safety Advisory Group (SAG). But there are major things we want to do as well.

"One of our strategies is to give a good supporter experience to those supporting Hereford FC. The toilet accomodation is quite poor, nothing has been done to it for years, so one of our plans is to spend a significant amount of money improving that so it's a much better experience for people who come to the ground.

"There are major projects, there are also minor projects. It's about putting all that together with a strict budget that we can work with to make the supporter experience so much better.

"Catering booths is something else we are going to do in conjunction with the toilets, they won't be side by side. There will be a strategic approach to that. It's not rocket science but one of the things we are thinking about is doing away with the booths and putting in metal cabins so they can be fitted out before they are delivered and connected up to services.

"We have a very good environmental health regime here . The stadium was inspected about a month ago, everything was passed, good standards of hygiene so all of that we are quite happy with. But the booths are old, there are floor tyles and so on that will need to be repaired so we are looking at a longer term strategy that will put something more modern in and be an advantage to the supporter in the amount of food they can get from it."

BN - When will these improvements be carried out?

"It depends on the budgets but as soon as possible. We are committed to spending a portion of our budget every year on keeping our stadium up to scratch. The capital expenditure as I said in my report to the shareholders at the AGM, we are committed to spending some of our capital and that will be done."

The interview turned to the subject of the lease on Edgar Street and the news that Herefordshire Council may make a statement about the lease on December 20th.

"Let me take you back just a little bit, our relationship with our Landlord is really good. When we first started this project they were really hesitant at giving a lease on the football ground to anybody. 

"I think one of the things they were worried about the finances and how the club was going to be run, will the crowds come and so on. I've had individual conversations with councillors who have said that's never going to work, you're never going to get enough people but we've proved them wrong because we have.

"There is a will to support football in Herefordshire and with that will we can start to negotiate from a position of strength with the Council and we've done that.

"We know they are going to extend our lease significently so we can obtain grant aid for some of the works.

"It's a case of extending it in an additional amount to what we've already got.

"If for example we agree ten years, I'm not saying when, but if ten years then we've got a thirteen and a half year lease so that would be fine."

BN - Are you saying it's not yet agreed or will be agreed in the next few days?

"It is agreed but it's not announced. It would be wrong of me to annouce anything the Council are going to annouce."

BN - Are we expecting an annoucement from the Council on December 20th?

"Yes, and we would expect that the fans of this football club will really appreciate what that statement is going be."

BN - Some of the facilities the club use are in the Blackfriars End which is not covered by the current lease.

"That is part of the conditions we are talking about in terms of what our lease arrangment is. We know that something is going to happen to the Blackfriars End and we know it will affect our lease at some point in the next three and a half years.

"Because of the infrastructure we have in the Blackfriars End, any proposed development has got to consider that. We have two big pylons in that end so we've got to do something with that, we've got the water supply for the ground irrigation scheme, we've got rainwater pipies that go through there, we've even got the electronic signboard up there. So all of that has to be dealt with during that process. 

"Really we are tenants but we don't have access to it to. We have rights to access our infrastructure We can not use it as part of our stand because of the alterrations that will eventually take place."

BN - What if it all had to be moved?

"It would be an expensive position.

"People imagined there was a multi-million pound development opportunity there were probably quite wrong. There isn't because of the infrastructure that would have to be moved.

"Having said that our landlords fully understand that in the not too distant future, hopefully, if football results carry on as they are going now, we will need a four sided ground and they are committed to providing that for us."

BN - Ken Kinnersley is joining the board in January which will bring the number of directors back up to full strength. What is your position?

"I am acting chairman until that first meeting on the Third of January."

BN - Will you stand for chairman?

"It's not a case of standing for chairman. I've done the chairman's role for three months and I've throughly enjoyed it but I've got a full time job. I'm an international project manager and I do a lot of work and being the chairman is a lot of work.

"The only answer I can give you is that it's not in my gift to take the chairman's role. It is the board that makes the decision.

"All the time I've been doing this job I've emphasised that it's the board that makes the decisions at this football club.

"It used to be in the past people who made the decisions. We make decisions as a board. Whatever that decision is I will stand by it.

"We will have a new chairman from that first meeting in January."