Derby County Fans Forum Debrief
Last night I went to the latest Derby County Fans Forum in Alvaston. You all know the drill with these by now whereby Mel, the Manager (currently Frank) & someone from the Operational side (currently CEO Stephen Pearce), talk to and answer questions from a room of season ticket holders. All hosted by Colin Gibson.
You will have seen & heard the headlines of the event and you can even watch it in its entirety on RamsTV. However here’s my thoughts on the main discussion and also a few other bits I got from chats afterwards.
When this event was originally booked I am sure the club didn’t expect it to take on the significance it did with recent rumours of takeovers, cancelled trips, points deductions and Franks future, not to mention his anti-negativity broadside, to address. As you would imagine, they wasted no time in steaming into the issues of the day and the first 30 minutes was almost entirely the panel answering pre-prepared questions from Colin as opposed to the floor.
You will have by now seen Mel call “Bullshit” on the rumour mill of him wanting out. You will though have also seen him admit that the stories have actually generated investment interest and some of it is serious. I think more important though than actually answering these questions, is more his undoubted passion and knowledge of the whole club from top to bottom.
A club owner who throws around stats and details about the U18 team in the same breath as the minutia of the various Sky TV deals on the back of splits in the wage bill of first team players active and inactive (40% of our first team wage bill are not involved in the first team if you missed that beauty) and multiple ‘what if’ scenarios around promotion and relegation doesn’t strike me as a guy who isn’t interested. Conversely it strikes me as a guy who absolutely loves it. His piss take of Radio Derby was also hilarious. We have to trust him to do the right thing going forward and I think he will.
Outside of this my other key takeaway was that major plans are afoot for next summer. There were several mentions of recent meetings to discuss the next window and the challenge and opportunity that will be created by the number of players who will be leaving (contracts and loans). Lists are well under way and research is happening now, which in itself seems more measured than the previous fiasco’s we have seen. Frank suggested he actually doesn’t pick the players but just gives a profile to Joe McClaren who then gives him options, which sounded a far cry from Paul Clement saying he had worked with Nick Blackman before and liked what he saw! (insert facepalm emoji here).
They also have a really good angle on the elite U-23 market. Don’t worry about a new wave arriving to follow Wilson and Mount, Frank said they were very much eyes on that group of players and even Mel was talking about a few lads from City, Arsenal etc afterwards.
One thing you can bank on right now is that Max Bird is going to be heavily involved next season. He is very well thought of both inside and outside the club and I think you will see him fully join the first team with next summer’s recruits in the same way Bogle has done this year. Everyone seems to like him a lot.
Talking of Bogle, I think we can all see him being our cash cow next summer and the good news is that, although I have no solid knowledge or detail, I understand that there is no horrific sell-on clause for Swindon outside of, I assume, bog standard development fees and normal standard level contract stuff. In reality most contracts have sell-on’s nowadays of some description, they just don’t always get spoken about. For example Will Hughes clauses were well documented, I guess from a PR perspective to cover the derisory fee we got for him. Not so well documented but I would imagine in place all the same were clauses we have for Hendrick and one we maybe got a tickle on when Tom Ince went to Stoke. Hopefully they’ll be something there to soften the blow when Forest sign Vyds for £15m next summer.
It is very easy to be cynical about these type of events, but I honestly found it really interesting and entertaining and it was tough to come away with anything but enthusiasm for the run in and the subsequent summer re-build. I don’t think all clubs do these type of things by any means, so fair play to Mel and the Rams and equally fair play to Frank who took most of the questions and stayed around afterwards until every single person had got their photo and autograph.
A good night had by all. Now let’s smash Rotherham and really get this show back on the road.
Come on you Rams.