LIVE UPDATES: We’re at the Billericay Town Fans’ Forum at the New Lodge, Blunts Wall Road, Billericay.
Manager Craig Edwards, new owner Glenn Tamplin and new chairman Danny Groves will be chatting with fans about their plans for the club.
There are well over 100 people in attendance – standing room only in the bar!
Glenn Tamplin has started by welcoming everyone present and said that Craig Edwards will answer questions too, including when he will get his first three points under the new ownership, which raised a big cheer!
GT explains he played for CE 20 years ago at Barkingside and he knows what it feels like to kick a football around with passion and be in a winning environment.
He says that the most important thing he can input into the club is not money but more a desire to build the club up at all levels.
GT says the new players haven’t gelled yet and every one needs to be patient.
The Colts (Youth team) and Ladies teams are very important to the new ethos of the club.
GT hopes to get 1,000 fans at matches every week and hopes to support all areas of the club and that they’ll support the club in return.
GT says that the club needs to be able to fund and pay for itself – so he is setting the club up to run as a business, and not reliant on his money.
GT went on to talk about his experiences in football and how he would run the club. He wants to make Billericay Town to be somewhere that the fans want to come.
He hopes to offer free admission to local schools and get local schoolchildren involved as mascots each week. He says that the club will dedicate a lot of time to disabled supporters – there will be charity fundraisers at the club in aid of disabled charities.
GT wants to get more youngsters through the doors.
He talked about his experience in business – said he has learned a lot.
A question from the ground – the ground isn’t very disabled-friendly at the moment, and will this be improved?
Danny says that a topographical survey is taking place next week to find out where improvements can be made.
GT said there will be major changes to the ground and access for the disabled will be improved. Drawings are being made at the moment.
Another comment from the fans – is the club doing more to publicise the games through the town?
GT mentioned that Phoenix FM is giving the club more publicity and the Echo is now increasing coverage. DG said that all marketing opportunities are being looked at.
GT said that more leaflets will be produced and asked if the fans can help to distribute them to help publicise the games.
A question from the fans – has the new ownership had any discussions with Basildon Borough Council?
GT says that there is only six months left on the lease at the ground and he will be visiting the council to talk about his plans to see what they will and won’t be happy with.
Another fan mentioned that a former chairman, Rod Moore, put in plans for a new stadium 20 years ago but they were rejected. GT says he will be thinking positively and will be constructive with the Council.
GT was asked if it would be possible to turn the whole pitch round. He said that they have already looked at this but the cost was prohibitive.
GT went on to talk about his strengths and weaknesses. He says he won’t take unnecessary risks. Money has already gone on new players and patience is needed. He stressed that he wants to make the club a community and a family.
GT explained why he chose Billericay. The first reason was because Dagenham and Redbridge turned down his offer. He’d also spoken to Bishops Stortford but the deal wasn’t right for him. So there was an element of luck, but he is very happy at the set up at Billericay and feels fortunate that other offers did not go through.
GT then went on to outline his plans for the club.
GT says that clubs are definitely trying harder against Billericay now they have brought new players. However he says the club can still get in the playoffs and be the best side at the end of the season. He also hoped for a cup final this season too!
GT says that if plans go through, it will take 2 1/2 years to build the stadium he wants. He doesn’t see any reason why Billericay can’t be in the National League in 5 years and have a 6,000 seater stadium. He will open up facilities to attract new corporate sponsors too, which he feels Dagenham and Redbridge does well.
GT’s vision is 3 promotions in 5 years. He says it’s a lot to ask for but he wants to excel where the club has failed before. He repeated that at the end of that time the club has to run without GT and his wallet.
A question from the fans – will the club be building a 4G pitch as previously mentioned on Phoenix FM? GT said yes, he wants a pitch behind the ground, with new changing room and bar areas which the Colts and Ladies can use along with local schools. It could hopefully bring in more income.
GT says he will be looking for at least 40 more parking spaces with the new facilities.
Another fan asked the club thinks it could get 6,000 people to fill a stadium? GT says he believes the club can come up to 1,500 people a week. He says that he can build a bigger stadium due to his knowledge and resources in his existing steel business.
GT then asked the fans if he wants standing areas behind the goals to remain. The fans in the room were very strong in their support of keeping this.
GT asked if the food and drink should be improved? One fan asked if cards could be taken behind the bar – GT said this would be arranged. Another fan asked if lunches could be served on match days too, and GT said they would look at trialling this.
Another fan asked if Steve and Sharon Kent were still going to be involved in the club. GT said that they are welcome to continue their involvement at a different level if they want to be.
Another fan asked if floodlight bulbs could be purchased! DG said that this is in hand.
A fan asked if the TVs could be improved in the bar area with the introduction of Sky Sports. DG said that improvements will be made and would look into getting Sky back to keep them in the bar longer.
GT then spoke about what is currently under development.
– A new website, to include a forum and other developments to benefit the club
– A new Billericay Town FC logo, which would keep the old heritage but modernising the style. The Mayflower motif would stay. The fans would be presented with the old badge and four new designs by the end of January and fans would vote on their favourite
– A new slogan, to help the club and the fans be as one and get behind the community, players and supporters
– A mascot – which will involve supporters’ suggestions
Fans were asked for suggestions to the website and a number of fans were very complimentary of the unofficial site at btfcunofficial.wixsite.com/1880.
One fan asked if the New Crawdaddy Club would continue and GT said that events would remain an important part of the community feel of the club.
Some fans talked about the number of official and unofficial sites, Twitter accounts and so on. GT said he wants to unite the club and wants to talk to any fans who have issues with this regard.
GT wrapped up by asking for feedback at the following web address: www.billericaytownfc.co.uk/feedback
He said, “I look forward to this exciting challenge which I intend to make my ultimate goal for my family, colleagues, and those of this amazing club.”
GT then handed the floor to manager Craig Edwards.
He was immediately asked if he was confident that the players would succeed on the pitch.
CE said that the club has had a lot of new players come in recently. The club has also has its worst injury crisis in his time as manager, losing several key players to injury.
New players had to come in quickly as the squad was getting short. This coincided with GT’s introduction to the club – if GT had not come in, lower league players would have been recruited instead.
CE was very confident on Saturday but the club just had a bad day. He said it would settle down.
CE says that every year the club has to build a new side, and this wouldn’t happen in future as he hoped to keep the core of the club.
The cups are very important and the club aims to “win the league in the second half of the season” which would put BTFC in the playoffs.
One fan asked if the injured players would be part of the club’s plans and CE said the sooner the players come back, the better.
Another fan asked if the passion and commitment from players would continue and CE said he wants all players, no matter what level, continue to give everything they’ve got on the pitch.
CE was asked about player recruitment. He said that all of the players who had come in were good lads and the challenge was keeping players motivated who had dropped down a level to play at BTFC.
One fan asked if the side was settled now. CE said that if players didn’t have the desire to play at BTFC he has to let them go.
CE said he felt it was exciting times for the whole club. The club was on a dip in form but the team has quality players who want to play well and he expects them to bounce back.