Fans Forum – Best Bits…

The annual Supporters Trust fans forum was held at the Liberty last night and as ever it was a great night with some interesting revelations. In case you missed it here’s a summary of what was said. If someone reading this was there last night and can add to what I’ve said then feel free to email me and I will amend accordingly…

Stadium Expansion – Club want to push ahead with this as soon as possible, now that the training ground and youth has been sorted it’s a top priority and with the new TV deal coming into play next year it’s seen as the best time to do it. Club are in negotiations with local authority over expansion and stadium purchase, likely to take 4/5 months to sort finer details including extra car parking facilities.

Huw Jenkins said the club needs an extra £40/50 million to fund stadium purchase and expansion outside of current budget and that if we want to remain in this league we may need to act differently than we have in the past. Priority remains playing squad and club do not want to fund that shortfall by selling three or four players.

Leigh Dineen and Huw Jenkins were asked would they sell a small percentage of their shares to take the trust to 25%. Neither believes that the trust owning 25% of the club would secure the future of the club. It’s also in a shareholders agreement that if any shareholder wishes to sell that they must offer the shares to other shareholders first.

Garry Monk was asked about Andre Ayew – he revealed that the player made initial contact with us and it was refreshing to speak to him as money wasn’t his main motivation and he was very eager to join us.

The mood was lightened when a gentleman told a story about being in the Gambia who went into a Manchester United shop out there and revealed to a staff member he supported Swansea and reminded him we’d double’d them last season. The staff member then revealed he was an Arsenal fan and he wasn’t our biggest fan either!

Someone was then asked about the scouting team – answer was most players are looked at for a period of 12-18 months to ensure that reports are as accurate as can be. Players are often aware we have been looking at them for a prolonged period and find it flattering and this often helps them decide to join us. Bafetimbi Gomis was used as an example.

Michu – Huw Jenkins expects to meet him over next few weeks to discuss what happens next. He’s been very frustrated by injuries and if he makes a comeback it’s unlikely to be here. Monk went onto say he’s a great lad and a fully fit and committed Michu would be an asset for anyone but he made the decision to leave last year and we’ve now moved on as a club.

Jefferson Montero has trained all week, should be available for selection at Watford on Saturday.

Question on why we didn’t offer free tickets to schools and youth clubs for York game – Answer was they can’t do that in cup games as the opposition are entitled to half the gate receipts. York did though agree to reduced prices. Club are trying to expand fan base in the likes of Merthyr and Haverfordwest but lack of seats restricts us. However some are offered tickets when away clubs only bring half of their allocation as there are then 900 extra home seats to sell.

Monk and Trundle asked if they miss playing – Trundle said in the week he’s okay as he’s busy but on a Saturday he’d love to still be out there. He misses the buzz of three o’clock and the feeling of scoring a goal and said Monk probably feels the same minus the scoring part which drew laughs from everyone. Monk added that it’s strange on side lines where you can almost touch the atmosphere of the crowd but you’re not quite in it. Nothing replaces playing but managing is the next best thing.

Trundle also really enjoys going into schools and spreading the word on the club, he has seen one of two youngsters who have potential and has recommended them to the club to have a look at.

Leon said the roar from the crowd when he came on against Newcastle sent shivers down his spine and that he calls Swansea home and that in the end it was easy to remain here. He had dialogue with Orlando which appealed to him more for the life experience and one or two Championship clubs in the London area but no firm offers. In the end though Swansea was the best option for him even with reduced playing time.

Monk has regular contact with Ashley Williams as the club captain. Said we’ve never received a concrete offer for him and that he appreciates the chance that Swansea has given him in his career which includes captaining both club and country. He went onto say he enjoys the environment and is 100% committed to the cause as we see every week.

Monk then asked about England – response was he’s very focused on the Swans. Said Wales have already qualified and will be supporting them in France along with England unless they play each other!

Huw Jenkins revealed we now have around 20 academies around the country including Monmouth, west Wales, Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Newport and a recently opened one in Ireland. These academies are now seeing 3,000 kids a week – startling when you think a dozen years ago some games saw less than that attend the Vetch!

Monk then had his say on Jonjo Shelvey – said it was time for him to grow up and cut out his mistakes and realise his potential which he agreed with. Competition for places is strong in that part of the field and hopefully his England call up will give him more confidence. Monk also thought he was England’s best midfielder in the two games.

Monk was then asked when will we have an FA Cup run – answer was we take all Cup’s seriously as shown by our League Cup victory in 2013. Also mindful that it opens the door to Europe.

Nathan Dyer leaving – Monk and him had a good chat and Dyer wanted to play more regularly so he allowed him to go to Leicester and recalled Mo Barrow as a result.

Monk said transition from player to manager has been an experience. He wanted to be conscious on first day in charge that he was a player the day before. He concentrated on bringing the group together at first and relationship changed more when he became full time boss. Players understand he has to make difficult decisions and have been very respectful.

Question on agents answered by Huw Jenkins – Four year deal is never a four year deal these days – if player does well there’s pressure on you to sort a new contract in around 18 months. Dealing with agents is challenging but we have a good reputation and that’s why we get most of our deals done. Club understands they have to work well with agents as they’re part of the game.

Trundle believes offside rule should revert to original rule. Highlights Leon Britton’s goal v Blackpool where he shielded the ball so it went in even though he was a mile offside he was deemed not interfering with play so the goal stood.

True-to-£22 question – Leigh Dineen and Huw Cooze worked hard on this. They felt the previous initiatives have been good but haven’t appealed to everyone so decided to cap ticket prices instead. Limited the service to Jack Army members to make sure tickets didn’t fall into the wrong hands. Club have received a lot of credit but didn’t do it for that reason. Leigh hopes the scheme will help and believes it’s fair. Huw Cooze spoke to an audience in London, the fans in the crowd could see the positives in the deal but clubs not which he said is shameful on them. Leigh also highlighted that the Premier League do not give clubs £200,000 to spend on away initiatives. More request that they use £200,000 from the budget. Also said they refused to cap away ticket prices across the board.

Leon Britton asked about life after football – He’s done some stuff for Sky and BBC Wales including the Man U game and has enjoyed it. Also completed B coaching license in the summer and will do his A badge next. He’s coaching the under 14’s every Thursday. Said a combination of coaching and media would be ideal.

Question on James Beattie and Tony Roberts – Monk demands high work ethic from both and both are excellent at what they do. Monk was also disappointed to lose Garcia for personal reasons as he’d done an excellent job last term. Leon added that finishing training with Beattie is excellent and keepers speak very highly of Roberts.

Huw Cooze asked will O’Leary’s name go on wall of fame – He revealed that 120 names will eventually go on the board, not 100 originally planned and that he along with some members of the panel tonight are strong candidates to go on soon.

Club asked about expanding the fan base abroad – they see USA as an expanding market with 44% of population now watching Premier League. Asia more difficult as big clubs already established there but India expected to explode in 12-18 months and club intend to capitalise on it.

Final question of the night was about the tannoy system in West stand being poor – club are aware of it and intend to get it sorted at some point this season.

So there are the best bits from the forum. Hope you enjoyed, give me a shout on twitter @stevensos1987 if I’ve missed anything.