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Dennis Hobson answers Trust questions
Published : 06 Mar 2013 16:09:41
Scunthorpe United Football Club director Dennis Hobson attended a meeting of Iron Trust members on Thursday February 28 2013 to answer their questions. Hobson was joined by financial advisor Stewart Groves and former Chesterfield chief executive John Green, who both expressed an interest in joining him on the board.The session was chaired by Iron Trust board member Luke Thornhill, and took place in the Sir Ian Botham Executive Lounge at Glanford Park on Thursday February 28 2013. A full transcript of the question and answer session can be read below:
LT: Our thanks to Dennis Hobson and Stewart Groves for joining us. Dennis has come tonight to answer your questions about his role at the club, what he might bring to the club and where the club may be going over the next few years. Dennis, would you like to introduce yourself to Scunthorpe fans?
DH: Tonight is about showing my face to yourselves, to say I am here as a line of communication with you. I respect every supporter because the supporters are the lifeblood of the club, and want to dispel any fears that there is an “us and them” situation with the board. I don’t know if you have had any of those sort of feelings in the past, but I am here to say there is no hidden agenda. I’m a sports fan, a football fan. I’ve achieved quite a lot in the sports world in professional boxing. I’m a football fan, I played semi-professional football most of my life – it’s a shame I can’t still play, but can do the last 10 minutes if ever I’m needed I suppose… – but I’m a football fan. I’ve always had an affinity with Scunthorpe United because I’ve done quite a bit of business around these parts with being in the steel reclamation industry. I was invited onto the board. Tony Daws was the catalyst for me coming to the club. He comes to my boxing gym in Sheffield and I’ve always kept tabs on how he is doing, he has told me how the academy is performing and how he is developing some great young players. He gets really excited and you can tell he just lives and breathes this club, and that shone through. It drew me more and more to the club, and he asked me one day if I was interested in getting involved. I was invited down, and to cut a long story short that’s the reason why I’m here. I’m pretty certain being involved in Scunthorpe United is not going to make me any money, it’s going to cost me some at some stage. I’m not Roman Abramovich or anything, but I’ll do my best to help the club.
Do you have any intentions to take the chair when Steve Wharton steps down?
DH: I knew that would be one of the questions, but didn’t think it would be the first one! I’ll never say never about anything. I’ve no ego as I can get my name in the paper every week if I like through sport. I’ve no intention of juggling the ball in front of the terrace or anything, but if I can play a role in the chair I wouldn’t say no. It’s up for discussion, but I don’t know who is going to be the chairman next year. I wouldn’t say no, but if I’m just wanted as a board member I’ll do my best to help the club moving forward.
LT: On the subject of the chairmanship, there was a board meeting today. Are the directors discussing a succession plan?
DH: That’s the first board meeting I’ve been to and the chair wasn’t discussed at all. It was just about the finances and, to be honest, I kept my mouth shut a lot of the time, though I’ve obviously got an opinion about certain players and stuff like that. It was quite a positive meeting because we’ve been on a decent run. It’s about supporting the manager, Brian Laws came and had a chat with us and I think he’s doing a tremendous job. I don’t think we could have a better manager at this club to take us forward and end this downward trend we had up to Alan Knill leaving. Alan is a friend of mine, I’m not saying he is the greatest manager, and you’ve probably all got your opinions, but for sure I think Brian is the right man.
As a director, are you prepared to invest money in Scunthorpe United over and above purchasing shares?
DH: One of the first things we (DH and Stewart Groves) said is we’re going to come and stand with you for a game. We were going to do it at Crewe, but my plane was late flying back from Jersey. But I want to come and stand with the lads. It’s not a gimmick because I’ve done it all my life.
I’ve purchased shares and shown good intentions. It’s not all about having a miniature Roman Abramovich, because if that’s what you want I’m not your man. I’m here to pull strings with contacts, assisting the manager with pulling favours in because I’ve got contacts all over the world. And to help try and generate funds. We’ve got to try and make the club trendier and more fashionable, there has been a bit of a dark cloud lately as there has been a bit of a downward trend – as you can see at the turnstiles, we’re 1,000 down on last year -– so we need something livening up in the club to get people believing again and walking around with a smile on their face.
There’s not going to be a magic wand, I’ve said that on numerous occasions, and money’s not the answer to absolutely everything. You’re not going to get an Abramovich coming to Scunthorpe United at the bottom of League One that’s going to throw bundles of money at the club. So we’ve got to work from within, we’ve all got to pull together and that includes the supporters – and that’s why I’m here, just to say we’re all in it together. It’s not an “us and them”. If there are any ideas you have I am all ears and will relay any ideas to the board, and if there are any substantial that we believe may work we will work very hard to implement them.
LT: Can you clarify how many shares you’ve purchased?
I bought £20,000. They asked me if I’d buy £20,000 and I said ‘yeah’. If they’d said £30,000 or £40,000 I’d have bought them. They asked if I’d buy £20,000 to come on board and I said yes.
You said “we”, referring to Stewart, is there a group of you coming in then?
DH: I’m talking about myself first and foremost. Stewart is a business associate of mine, a close friend and has got some ideas for the club. It is all in its infancy. I’ve got John Green there who has got some ideas on how to generate funds for the club, and I think you’ll find them pretty interesting as we start to roll them out. It is ideas to self-generate funds into the club, which we need to compete. It’s tight out there. I was instrumental in bringing Akpo Sodje to the club. The club were desperate to get Akpo and thought they wouldn’t be able to get him, but the family are close friends of mine. Since he came to the club our fortunes have turned and we are more of an enviable position than we were and our destiny is in our own hands.
SG: My background is financial services. I worked in London and came back about four years ago. I have some very high-profile clients, professional footballers and famous people such as actors and actresses. That’s how I met Dennis, and that has developed into a friendship and business relationship. Dennis asked if I’d be interested in coming to this and engaging with the fans, and I said no problem at all. I have been to numerous Scunthorpe matches now so you may have seen me around. I’ve been asked to help by Dennis to put my ideas across. One thing I have noticed is you guys feel a bit ostracised from the board and senior management, what we want to do is bridge that gap and make it approachable. If you have got anything to ask or put your view across please do, as it’ll get back to Dennis and members of the board. We want to embrace the club and bring everyone together. We want everyone to pull in the same direction. We will listen, we will put our own view across as well but please do come across and talk to us. I’m not a board member.
JG: I’ve been involved in football for about 25 years. I was honorary president of Sheffield FC, but I was also involved in the commercial and corporate side at Sheffield Wednesday. Around 14/15 years ago I was chief executive at Chesterfield Football Club. Basically my ideas for Dennis and the club are for the non-matchday financial streams. We’re not using the ground to its full capacity, I think in the past they have tapped into the same pool of sponsors and money that is out there. But you’ve got your people who come to matches, and you’ve got others who want to come to something on a night when there is no football. I’m on board to try and broaden what you see here at Glanford Park. The experience I’ve had in football, and contacts throughout the Football League and Football Association, allows me to help Dennis in terms of opening contacts up for himself and the club. I’m just here as an observer tonight.
LT: John said he is here as an observer, could you clarify the role of Stewart and whether you see these two people as club staff, director, consultants etc?
DH: I think initially they are both here as consultants. It’s just a matter of getting a feel for the club. This is the first time John has had a walk round the club/ When I first came, I was pleasantly surprised by the facilities here and they need to be exploited. John and Stewart are going to help us do so, so it’s all for the benefit of the club and I think you’ll find a different attitude and atmosphere in the coming months down here with these two involved.
I think it is vital this club is used seven days a week. Can you go into details on any of these ideas?
DH: If I could fit a boxing ring in here and put a show on, I would do. That’s what John is all about. There are smashing facilities here, really accessible and some great people involved at this club. I want to let them know they are appreciated. It is all about working together to make sure you’re not just giving your money over for nothing, you’re going to be entertained. Some of the evenings John has put together are as good as anything I’ve ever been to and, I’ve been all over the world to be entertained. We want to bring the entertainment here, and keep it within people’s budgets. We’ve got to utilise these facilities. Give me a hard grafter any day of the week, you can have all your graduates, but give me a grafter any day and that’s what we all are. It’s how we earn our livings. We’ve got some good people here, we’re all on the same page and we will graft to push this club forward.
JG: Throughout the football world Scunthorpe United are seen as a certain club. Whenever you go to another ground you are accepted in a certain way, and I think with Dennis on board that will enlighten other clubs. Because if you’re liked at a certain club, the communication becomes better. We can help players come on board because the club is liked better within the footballing world.
You’ve had a look around the place and met a few people, have you liked what you’ve seen?
DH: I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t get a good feel from the club, I could have joined quite a few different clubs.
The chairman has been successful in his own business and kept this club afloat, and for years we’ve read we are a well-run club but all of a sudden we need a £2m loan. If Gary Hooper is sold by Celtic and we receive a sell-on, would the club pay SW money back to dilute that loan? Do you think the board will really listen to your ideas?
DH: I don’t know that. All I can say is I’m brand new, nothing will dent my enthusiasm as I’ve been around the block too many times. I’ve never been a yes man in my life and never will be, but I don’t think I’m above anybody at the same time. I’ll listen to anybody, I don’t get intimidated and don’t intimidate anyone else. I can’t really answer as I don’t know the chairman well enough, and need to know the mechanisms of any loans. Steve knows where he stands with me straight away. I think I bring another dimension to this club. You will see gradual change, don’t expect to see change overnight but you’ll see a change for the better as regards attitude.
We are all concerned about how the club is going to survive over the next 18 months.
DH: And so you should be. We’ve all got to pull together to make sure we survive. There are a lot of clubs in this league that might not survive, and we’re probably in a better state than some others. If we all pull together to try and generate funds and support the stuff that John and Stewart is going to bring to the table, then we’ll be ok.
There are a lot of individuals who have joined together to help the club over the past 10/15 years but there has been a shut door on it.
DH: So long as everybody here doesn’t think that all they say is gospel, and recognise it is just a suggestion. When I’m in the boardroom if I make a suggestion it is just that, something that has to be approved by the rest of the board. One thing I will guarantee is while I’m here I will be a line of communication and if you have ideas I will put them forward. If I believe, and can convince the other people to believe, they will be implemented.
If you do find yourself chairman of the club, are you confident in your own ability to be the top boy? It’s not an easy job and not something to be taken lightly.
DH: That’s a bit of a question isn’t it, if I can be top boy! I don’t take anything lightly. Without blowing my own trumpet, in boxing I started with a gymnasium in my garage and ended up taking a lad to a world title. I’ve dealt with people like Don King, Bob Arum and Golden Boy – that would be fearful for a lot of people. These are people I used to watch on the telly and wonder what it would be like to meet them, but I ended up doing business with them. When I walked into Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas I didn’t get fazed by anything. I’ve played football all my life and have been quite successful in business. I haven’t got the experience of having been a chairman, but I have the credentials from boxing and business. Look at Barry Hearn, who is chairman of Leyton Orient. It wouldn’t faze me, but if I’m not the chairman I’ll still be here supporting the club 100 per cent. If they ask me to be chairman, if there’s a better man for the job I’ll say go ahead.
JG: It’s about the people Dennis brings on board who are football-related. You have to know the football family. You need somebody who connects with the fans and who is not aloof of the fans, so I would imagine that for Dennis as a director his door will always be open. You need a voice. What I’ve had over the past couple of months is people who I know from Scunthorpe who don’t have a voice here at the club, who will just go away and moan. I think this new era, if there is a new era, one where you can always know Dennis will listen to you. He’s said already he will go onto the Donny Road End, which is what you’re after. You want somebody who will surround himself with the right people.
DH: It’s about who you know. I’ve followed football all my life and been a boxing promoter and a businessman. Being chairman of a football club does not faze me, but I’m not saying I’m going to be the chairman. I’ve not come here to be the chairman, I’ve just come on board to help the club. I think it’s a great club, as soon as I walked in I got a good feeling and there are some great people here. I hope they are going to have a bit more of a smile on their faces in future, we just have to make sure we stay up this year.
What happens if you find the ideas you are putting forward are not listened to by the rest of the directors?
DH: Then I wouldn’t know why I was here, in a nutshell. I don’t know why they’d ask me to come on board if they are not going to listen. I think they’ve asked me on board because I can bring some fresh ideas. I’m not going to dictate things, but I will be trying to put my ideas forward and bring people in to benefit the club. If I have some ideas I’m going to want to push them forward. I’m not saying every idea is going to work or will be accepted, as everything is up for discussion. If I didn’t think they were going to listen to me, or I was just going to be a cardboard cut-out in the boardroom, then I wouldn’t be here.
I’m tenacious, that’s one of the reasons I’ve been as successful in business as I have. I left school too early but I’ve been tenacious and have done all sorts to make a living. I lived in a caravan in Skegness working on the markets, and know what it’s like to have nothing in my pocket. I know what it’s like to have to graft, which is why I’m here.
The attitude you’ve brought is extremely positive, did you find it the same in the board meeting earlier today?
DH: Without going into too much detail, as you get to know me you’ll realise I’m serious about making things happen and it won’t be for a lack of trying if things don’t. Whenever I’ve been involved with business, whenever I’ve employed anybody or signed a fighter I said there is one condition – no matter what we achieve, we have a little bit of fun along the way. Life is too short to walk around with a miserable face, and I’ve had some of my best laughs in times of adversity. That’s when you have to galvanise, to pull together. Everybody can be happy, and big pals when we’re winning, but part of having a strong club unity is being able to win together and lose together. That’s when you find out who your friends are. I think I lightened it up a couple of times. I cracked the make-up a few times. I’m not saying I’m Peter Kay or a jester, but there are times you have to lighten the atmosphere.
It isn’t positive that we are not in the best shape financially, there has been some cost-cutting and some redundancies. I hate to hear about people losing their jobs, but it has been a necessity. We were talking about what costs can be cut and looking at the playing budget for next year. But there has always got to be a positive. Brian came in, and he’s a positive fella who I like a lot, and he is the man to take us forward no matter what happens this season. I think we are fortunate to have Brian and Russ Wilcox back, they are fantastic for this club and just fit like a glove. I’ve offered them a few players already, but Brian believes we can get out of this relegation battle with the players we’ve got. He brought some statistics in, and over the last six matches in form we’re fourth from top. So things are positive in that respect. It was a bit of a mixed meeting. Financially we’re not in the best shape, and we’re discussing ways of getting out of this situation. There is still going to be some cost-cutting, but one of the things I’m going to try and do is raise funds. I’m not saying it is going to be anything major, but with the people I’ve got here tonight you never know. It’s all about making more funds available for Brian to strengthen the squad. We’ve got some great youngsters coming through, Tony and [SUFC director] Keith Wagstaff are very excited about that and that is something we’ve got to look to. We’re going to have a reserve team again next year so we’ll be able to view a few players coming in and out on trial. With relationships we’ve got between us in the football world, I think we will get one or two favours done for us. We will be making it known we are at the club, and if it comes down to between us and another club over who gets a certain player I think we’ll get priority. That’s what I’m aiming to do, pull one or two favours in to assist Brian and the club.
LT: Can you clarify how the transfer targeting works, is it you offering targets to Brian Laws, him coming to you or a combination of both?
DH: I don’t think there’s any set rule. I’m asking Brian if, because of my contacts, he is interested in certain players or if he wants me to have a word with someone. He asked me if I could get Sodje, and I got him for us. He had one or two offers, but he was a player that he desperately thought we needed to have a presence up front. He’s scored a few goals for us and has already had an impact. Because of the relationship I have with the Sodjes I was able to get him for the club, and there may be one or two situations like that moving forward.
You mentioned the £2m loss and we know we’re looking at £1m loss for this season at least. The club appears to be losing its core supporters, what strategies do you think could be put in place to bring back those disillusioned fans?
DH: It’s a difficult question. Every club has got a hardcore of support, it is a religion to them and it is your hometown club you’ve grown up with. Hopefully this is just the beginning, when you go home and to work you’ll say you think something might be happening here, that a different attitude is going to happen. It’s a new era with the chairman stepping down at the end of the season, and with new personnel down here. I’ve been to quite a few matches this season and the fans are really quiet a lot of the time, there’s a bit of apathy there and they’ve been expecting us to lose. But we’ve won four out of the last five now. The big thing is to turn it round on the field, and the home form has been diabolical up to the last five matches.
If there is a different attitude throughout the club I think that has to be circulated. You’ve got 250 Trust members, so spread the word and let’s grow the Trust. As far as I’m concerned Trust members are very important, you’re not here just to be stuck in a corner – as far as I’m concerned you do have a voice. You’ve got some cracking ideas. We’ve got to keep this line of communication open, the worst thing you can do in any relationship is stop communicating and I can give you my guarantee I won’t stop talking to you. I’ll stand on the Donny Road End, or at the bar, and as long as we’re all respectful and well-mannered I’ll listen to anything.
JG: We have had a couple of meetings before today and Dennis has some ideas, but you have to remember his hands are tied as we’re three-quarters of the way through a season. We had a meal before coming here and there was a student there, Dennis asked him where he’s from and he said Scunthorpe so he asked him who he supports and he said Manchester United. His dad’s a Scunthorpe fan, but he supports Manchester United so they go to Old Trafford. Dennis has asked what you do in this climate for the unemployed, or for students, and over the next few months we’ll look at those areas. You don’t want to fall out with fans and cut off that supply of future fans, but it is future fans and those who can’t afford tickets like students and unemployed that you need to bring back that crowd. People who go through a turnstile, at whatever price, may buy a programme or a pie and it is all turnover. Those are our kind of ideas, but the timescale doesn’t allow it for the next few weeks. But I know Dennis is very passionate about these ideas, and he has said that if you have any grievances write it down and drop Dennis or Stewart a line. They will ask the right questions.
Have you got the time to dedicate to being the chairman?
DH: People keep going back to this chairman thing, I don’t know if I’m going to have the privilege. We don’t know if anyone else wants to do it. How much time do you need? It’s about knowledge and contacts. If you asked me to be here every day I can’t do it. Maybe a day a week, but if you’re looking for a chairman here every day or so many times a week I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I’ve not been asked.
Are we right in thinking there is no one in the boardroom who has said to you they fancy it?
DH: Nobody has said anything about it. Today is the first meeting I’ve been to and it wasn’t discussed. The main priority is getting the finances together first, and Steve Wharton is still working with us because he has got a good business brain, trimming expenses and making one or two cuts. And we’re looking at ways of bringing money in. That has been the priority.
How many of the current board members would you envisage being on the board this time next year?
DH: I can’t answer that. I’m not trying to be evasive, but I’ll be here.
Will Stewart and John be on the board this time next year?
SG: I would like to be on board, yes.
JG: I stand here as an observer, what I can bring on board is a bit of experience to guide people the right way. It depends if I get asked, but it is an exciting club even though it has been going nowhere for the last three years.
John Needham (secretary of the Iron Trust): Can we assure Stewart and yourself that if you are looking for people on the board, the Trust would be more than happy to find someone to join you in a constructive partnership.
DH: I think it’s important, whether it is a Trust member on the board or not, to have that bridge. I will support you as much as I can to help this Trust grow, because you don’t just want to be 250 people at around 10 per cent of the crowd but we want it to be a much higher percentage. I’ll help you in any way I can to grow the members, because I think having a Trust is important as it keeps people involved in the club. We want people to feel they are part of the club, and that is hopefully something we’ll achieve. I’ll go out and have a pint with you and talk about football, boxing or women just to show I’m here and willing to listen to anything you have to say.
If you were chairman, would you reserve a place on the board for the Iron Trust?
I wouldn’t want to make that decision. It is something you have to put to the board and we’d have a proper discussion about it. But there can’t be this golf club mentality where there is a closed shop.
One concern most people have is not your business acumen or work ethic, it’s whether you will get the support of the board because the perception is that the directors have been quite happy to go along with the chairman. I believe there has been too much reliance on SW putting cash in, in the form of loans, rather than the rest of the directors putting their own hard-earned cash in.
DH: I appreciate that. It’s not all about just putting money in, though. It has cost me £20,000 already plus my time, and that’s just for starters. I’ve hopefully already had a bearing in a positive sense on this club. I’m a busy person, but wouldn’t have joined any other club. My boyhood club was Sheffield Wednesday, but I’ve always had an affinity with Scunthorpe – I’ve got friends from round here, I’m big friends with Tony Daws and I feel for this club. Had we been in the Championship still I probably wouldn’t have been asked. We haven’t got a God-given right to be in the Championship, but it’s not undoable because we’ve done it before, especially with the academy with the way it’s performing. Look at what Wimbledon did all those years ago, they survived on crowds just a few thousand by blooding young kids and selling them for millions. They had this great spirit running throughout the club, all the way through from players to the laundry woman. That’s what we’ve got to get going here. I’m urging you all to be a part of it, and see this glass as half full rather than half empty.
You talked about tickets for the unemployed and things like that, but one area that is growing is Eastern Europeans and the club seems to be doing nothing to attract them
JG: It’s not just about going into the Polish community, it is about going to all communities. The thing is you can’t offer them anything particularly special because somebody from Scunthorpe is special as them. But it’s an area that hasn’t been pointed out to us until now. It is a quick learning curve, and if people can point things like this to us it’ll really help. There are thousands of you out there with little ideas about tweaking things, we don’t know those details yet but we’re learning as quick as we can. So this thing about the Polish community is new to us and something for us to look at. If we sign a Polish international will that do…
Where were you two or three years ago when we were in the Championship? You’ve got friends with you who have commercial nous, who we could have done with when we were riding the crest of a wave. Do you realise how much of a challenge you’ve got to get us out of this pool of apathy? There are clearly “customers” out there as we proved that two years ago.
DH: It’s about success isn’t it. To answer the first part of the question, I wasn’t asked which is why I wasn’t here two or three years ago. If I had been asked maybe we would have still been in the Championship, but who knows. We are where we are. I was asked a few months ago, I met with Keith Wagstaff and Tony, who sold the club to me. I came down, liked what I saw and met some of the people here. I got a good feel for the place. The only way we are going to turn this around is by all pulling together, and success breeds success. We’ve got to spread the word that we are capable of doing better, it’s not about being negative it’s about getting behind the team. For a start we can get the fans a bit more vocal and encouraging the player. From watching us play away we were a bit more relaxed than they are at home, and hopefully that has gone a little bit because we’ve had some decent results. It’s about pulling together and not looking for a scapegoat because it creates negativity, and if you have a negative attitude you’re not going to perform to the best of your ability.
One thing that has been touched on is that you do have fans who will come on that journey with you, but sometimes there is a feeling the club makes things a little bit too complicated when it comes to getting tickets etc. with little barriers in the way of casual fans.
DH: I think sometimes you can look for something that’s not there. We can get a little bit paranoid with seeing obstacles in the way, but can see how you start to get these negative feelings when there hasn’t been communication. There are certain things on a professional basis you have to keep confidential, so I hope you can respect that. As regards where we are now, there’s not a lot I can tell you regards finance because I’m relatively new. What you see is what you get. I’ve not come to turn this into a retail park, sell the club off or anything like that. I don’t need to make any money out of Scunthorpe United, the club is going to cost me money – I’ve already spent £20,000 plus my time. My selfish reasons for getting involved are I want us to achieve something, that’s why I’m here. If we win something, then that’s my buzz. Whatever I’ve done when I’ve been involved I’ve wanted to celebrate, with boxing I’ve got the pictures scattered all round my office. I’ve done the Ricky Hattons, the David Hayes and I’ve got posters all round my office as achievements. That’s all what I’m interested in, I want Scunthorpe United to have some great days out like we’ve got on those photographs (limited edition Alex Calvo-Garcia prints the Trust auctioned). That’s what I’m here for, creating some memories.
You need to ring changes. At the moment going to matches feels like a funeral.
DH: All I can ensure you is that I’m a tryer and I’ll do my best to make a difference. My track record suggests I make things happen.
JG: I was surprised to hear there are no cash turnstiles*. You want surprising, to open the paper to see what you can do. You want to feel part of the club, to wake up on a Saturday and think you’ll enjoy going down to Glanford Park. There’s been a malaise that seems to have come across, which has been clear tonight.
Trust chairman Tony Gosling: One of the things you’ve talked about is fan engagement, and one of the things the Trust has done is meet with the Doncaster Rovers Trust and a chap called Mark Bradley, who has done a lot of work with clubs like Doncaster, Cardiff, Norwich. You talked about the matchday experience and one of the ambitions from the chair’s report is to facilitate a meeting between the Doncaster supporters trust, Doncaster Rovers Football Club, Scunthorpe United and the Iron Trust. Would you be able to facilitate that meeting with SUFC? We think they can help you with the way you want to go.
DH: They’re putting up ideas for you to bring forward and put to us, that’s how I see it. You’re taking their ideas to bring to this club. Shouldn’t it be the Trust board’s job to take their ideas and put it to me, or whoever at the board?
[Trust secretary] John Needham: They’re talking from experience because they’ve done it. Especially Doncaster, because they’ve transformed it over the past eight months. At the moment there is no fans focus, and that’s the only way we’re going to get more people through the gate, more money and be able to spend more on players.
SG: Going back to what Dennis said originally is that he is new at this, but he has stressed he is going to surround himself with people who are capable along the way. Now I’m not disputing that Mark Bradley has worked wonders at football clubs, but ultimately he is a business that is out to make money. We don’t want to engage in a conversation with someone and find next time he’s going to slip an invoice under your nose, because between us we have fantastic contacts and can call favours in from people We don’t need to go and see a consultant to tell us how to manage our own finances effectively.
Do you think there is a need for a presence in the town?
DH: I’ve heard this. These are all ideas we need to discuss, definitely. I’d never say never to anything like that. If you think we can get more of a presence in the town and get people coming to the club it has got to be worthwhile. We want all these ideas for me to put forward. John is going to help me on that front, but we are trying to engage supporters.
It’s the fans who run the club, but we do not have a voice. Nobody knows who is going to be the chairman but it’s getting a bit late in the day. We want to come and celebrate Scunthorpe United
DH: If I thought it was all doom and gloom I would not be here. Maybe today is the first day of change.
The M&S development next door raised a lot of eyebrows, it is a big concern from a lot of fans that someone would come in, sell the ground, pocket the cash and essentially do a runner. Could you put it on record that you’re not here because of that and that the club should keep ownership of the ground?
DH: You’ve got to get rid of a little bit of this negativity and always thinking the worst. I’m here for the right reasons and can’t say any more than that. I’m not here to make any money out of the football club, I’m here to generate a bit of success and make some memories. We’ve got smashing facilities here, and whether M&S is here or Harrods I don’t care. If we can do something that benefits this club and can get a benefit from M&S, if we can open something connected to the club then so be it, but all I’m interested in is generating funds and get the best players and personnel we can. I’m sorry to see there have been one or two made redundant because of cuts, I’m new so don’t really know these people, but I don’t like to see anybody losing their job and I’m sorry that’s happened. But we’ve got to bottom out before we can go forward and hopefully that’s what we’ll do. We’ve got a lot of players on contracts at a certain level with another season to go, but I’m confident Brian can build a team around what is left. People like John, Stewart and myself are going to bounce some ideas round and get some personnel involved down here that is going to benefit the club.
You were involved with Club 9 Sports when they tried to buy Sheffield Wednesday, as the front for the bid. What happened there?
DH: I wasn’t the front. They approached me and I got pushed forward to front it, and the next thing I knew I was on conference calls with them. I got my solicitor and accountant on a conference call with them, and very quickly sussed out they were some Yanks trying to get involved with a big club like Sheffield Wednesday. I don’t know what their agenda was but I asked them to put their money where their mouth was and they gave me some baloney, so I just said I wouldn’t speak to them any more because I thought they were trying to generate some publicity for themselves. So I got pushed forward, but very quickly I sussed out they were full of flannel. Hot air merchants.
JG: I’d like to thank you all for inviting us along. The door is always open now, and please just pass it on that you have a director on board who appreciates what the fans are going through.
*For much of this season fans have been required to purchase tickets for the Scunthorpe Telegraph Stand and Clugston Stand from the main office. There are five cash turnstiles on the terrace, and iin recent games a cash turnstile has been added to the Clugston Stand again.
Dennis Hobson is a boxing promoter and owner of Hobson Metals UK. You can find Dennis Hobson Promotions here, and follow him on twitter @Dennis_Hobson.
Stewart Groves is a financial advisor, you can find more at Innovation Financial Servicesand follow him on twitter @stewgroves.
John Green is former chief executive of Chesterfield FC