MORE than 100 supporters participated in the first Burton Albion open forum of the season.
Chairman Ben Robinson, first team manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and his assistant Dino Maamria answered questions from fans who attended in person and those participating from home via Zoom.
The forum is part of the club’s new-look fan engagement process which will also include surveys and workshops as well as more chances to question players and club staff.
Fans raised questions about ticketing, stadium facilities, encouraging new fans and about first team affairs.
The Chairman thanked the fans for their support during the last 18 months and talked about the club and community trust’s response to the pandemic.
He was asked what development plans the club had for the future.
He said the club would ask supporters what they feel is lacking from the matchday experience and explained that the club is always looking to make improvements and to maximise commercial opportunities. There are no plans for any specific project.
The Chairman was asked about increasing the number of seats.
He said it was something the club had looked at and were still debating and it is something we would need if we returned to the Championship but, currently, we had seating capacity if fans need to move from the terraces.
There was also talk about encouraging more young fans to come whether by ticket promotions or other initiatives.
There was a discussion about whether fans should be able to pay on the gate on the day.
The Chairman reiterated his commitment to giving fans cash on the gate as an option whenever possible.
The Chairman was asked about whether the club was in a sustainable position following the financial impact of the pandemic.
He said that cash flow needed support during the lockdowns and the club took up schemes provided by the Government and help from the Premier League and EFL. The club used the furlough scheme where it could.
As a result, the club has emerged in a sustainable financial position thanks to support from sponsors and partners during the pandemic so the club is being positive as long as there are no more lockdowns which would be very challenging.
The fans also asked questions about first team football matters.
Jimmy and Dino were asked about how they worked together and how they keep a big squad happy.
Jimmy said: “You want to keep them hungry, not happy. The younger ones train with the squad and play in games behind closed doors. We see them so the gap becomes smaller and if they aren’t going to affect the first team squad, we send them out on loan.”
Dino said: “We have to recruit from within, it’s the kind of club we are and if we can sell them on that’s an investment for the club.”
The manager explained how he has worked to get the average age of the team down and the older ones left are important now as role models
Dino thanked the fans for turning up in numbers at Shrewsbury and said how it drives the team.
“We always appreciate the fans turning up because we know what an effort it is to come and part with their hard-earned cash.”
The manager was asked about injuries to key players and whether that meant he needed to think again about the squad. He said that he had options within the squad and that he had to be creative.
“It’s about staying calm and finding solutions,” he said.