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Story posted: Wednesday, 9th February 2005

Fans Forum Transcript
The abridged transcript from the recent Fans Forum is now online. Held on Friday 4th February 2005 in the Social Club.
Q. Why do you think results have gone against us recently?

Gary Norton (GN): One reason is that we've not been able to field a settled back four. We lost Jamie Hood through suspension; Matt Smith was away for the two games over the Christmas period but Andy Simpson has done a good job stepping in at centre back. Having said that, however, since Christmas we've haven't been the same side at the back because we haven't had a settled back four which we did early in the season. It is an area of concern because the confidence seems to be a little low at present.

If we'd have won the two games against Shepshed we'd have gone top of the league with two games in hand over North Ferriby. The bad run has gone on since then. We are not playing as well as we were in the early season, we are letting in goals, which we weren't then. Yes, we are creating chances but are not putting them away.
If you looked at the results early in the season especially the away ones, we won many of our games by the odd goal with lots of clean sheets. There's been some complacency creeping in and one or two of the players seem to be riding on the back of their early season form. It's hard work that's got us to the position we are. Undoubtedly the ability is there in the players but the confidence is at a low ebb but I can't honestly put my finger on the reason.

Q: Was the result last week against Warrington the last straw for you?

GN: In terms of bringing fresh faces in, yes. We hadn't had much luck but I'm not using that as an excuse. Earlier in the season we were getting a bit of luck and were able to hold on to things when one-nil up. But when you're down, you're down and you don't get the luck. We are very wasteful in front of goal at the minute and we are conceding goals.

If you look at the fixtures, including the County Cup Final games, you will see that we have nine games coming up in April, which is astounding. That's another reason for some fresh players being brought in.
We have some decent reserve team lads but I don't think they could sustain the quality game after game.

Q: I see you've put in seven days for two more players!

GN: Yes we have. We need a little more strength and depth and as I said earlier we need a few extra players. I also want players to feel their places are under threat. Because of the small nature of the squad there may be one or two who know they will be in the squad regardless of how they play so we need to add that little bit of competition to get their hunger back.

Q: If we manage to get promotion, and I think we still have a good chance, going up to the next league as it stands now will involve an awful lot of travelling which means expense. Is the club in a position to be able to handle the extra expense?

Mark Evans (ME): Can I clarify one thing? Let's assume that we are in a position to get promotion at the end of the season it is not necessarily the case that we will go into the UniBond Premier League. We go into a pool of clubs and the Football Association and a committee look at all the clubs that are available to form a premiership division and decide whether a team is in the Southern League or Northern League.

Q: Do you know the format of the playoffs?

ME: I believe there is a draw. I don't think it's like the Football League were third plays sixth etc. But, I haven't really looked into things that far yet.

GN: Picking up on the earlier question, I do think we will finish in the top six. That was the target set at the beginning of the season. After the start we had the expectation level around the place, including mine if I'm honest, was higher thinking we could finish in the top two. After the Spalding game I did say publicly that the title was now beyond us, and I did get some criticism for saying it. But, believe me, I'm a winner and I hate losing and when we do it cuts me up for days. I did say what I did after the Spalding game to hopefully take some pressure off us. But, rest assured, we are going to do what we can and if there is any way we can catch the top two we will try to do so. There are still a lot of games yet to play and points to play for.

Q: We've not heard any more about the purchase of the Moat Ground for the past couple of months, is there any movement?

ME: The purchase of the Moat Ground is a very complicated affair. There are three sets of solicitors, an agent for the landlord, the landlord, the prospective purchaser and of course Gresley Rovers involved in this. I am certain that all issues have now been dealt with and as far as Gresley Rovers are concerned we have agreed the terms on which we will purchase the Moat Ground. Optimistically, we should complete within the next four weeks and that will mean that Gresley Rovers will own the Moat Ground. It's now down to all the prospective parties agreeing the relevant bits. We are close; we are very, very close.

Q: Will we be moving to the site already earmarked for the new ground?

ME: I've covered this at a number of previous forums. I'm almost certain it will be there for the simple reason that the District Council along with the North West Leicestershire Council include that piece of land in their strategic plan being developed for a sports facility. The facility is envisaged to be running ten hours a day six days a week bringing the funding for Gresley Rovers to go forward. We've yet to appoint architects etc because I just don't believe in going that far until we've got this piece done. But it's hoped that the facility would include, obviously the stadium, a floodlit training pitch, several junior pitches, a social club, office suites, rooms that can be used by different community projects.

Q: Are there grants available to help us?

ME: The question of grants is all tied down to your ownership of the ground or a very long lease. Once we own the Moat Ground then we look for grants to help us with the new ground. I've already held meetings with various bodies and more will be arranged in the very near future.

Q: Have you heard anything officially about an extra UniBond Division?

ME: I understand that there is talk of the Northern Premier League possibly creating a UniBond Division One North and a Division One South or East and West. Running a football club and its ability to survive from one day to the next is all based on its expenditure and how much money it brings in. It does make sense for football clubs especially at a lower level to have a smaller catchment area for its travel. Our travel costs are high and it's a lot of money to find. That is in addition to all the other costs involved in running a football club. It's a balance that has to be struck in terms of providing a league that's entertaining, provides enough of a difference and excitement for supporters and practical for the teams and at the same time where the costs are not too great. If we get promoted we will have a lot of work to do during the summer to put the club in a financial position through sponsorship and other events to fund that.

Q: Are we still getting sponsorship into the club?

ME: Yes we are. We have a very good main sponsor in Ashfield Health Care who is very supportive of this club. As you can see there are more advertising boards around the ground and more advertising in the programme. We could do with more and local companies are approached and we are working hard in this area. Gresley Rovers is rich in terms of its volunteers but we could do with more people to help on the commercial side because that is a limited resource. We are looking to do more on that side of things. We have some new merchandise and are arranging a fun day in March to try and get more people through the turnstiles and introduce them to the club.

Q: Is it still worth having a youth and reserve side because of their costs?

ME: I believe it is. We closely watch the cost of the Youth Team and the Reserves and certainly how much we take on the gate because our costs for both are not massive but do have match day fees to pay. It is fair to say that there are times when the attendance revenue does not cover the match day fees and this means we have to dip into other revenues. It is important that we retain both teams because if we've got fourteen junior teams we need something for those players to aspire to. The junior teams are not a franchise allowed to go off and do their own thing they are part of Gresley Rovers football club and players are beginning to move from those senior Junior teams to the Youth team. One of the U16's has actually made it through to the reserves. So they can see that it can happen.

Q: Why do we have so many league cup competitions?

GN: I agree it does look a bit odd but I think it's because the league wants every club to play in at least a minimum of three games in the league cup.

ME: Every league has to attract a sponsor and those sponsors need to be convinced, and rightly so, that they are going to get opportunities to publicise their brand. I believe a lot of those cups are to help publicise the brand.

Q: I'm being flippant now but I'm seventy five next birthday and I'm not saying that to get a lot of presents, but can you get me Conference football here at Gresley Rovers before I'm eighty!

ME: I sadly think that the number of levels between our league and the Conference and also the finance involved would mean that it's impossible for near future. So thankfully, for us, it means you've got to live longer!

Q: Would the new ground be ready to play on before the developers do anything here?

ME: Yes, absolutely. There are enough safe guards in the sale so that whoever develops the ground would not be able to remove us without us having somewhere to go to. The process is amazingly complicated and I'll be glad when it's done. It's taken a long time but we have to make sure it's right.
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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