Fans Forum - 12 November 1998

Many thanks to Martin Brailli who made the following notes at the forum:

Opening session was directed at Tommy Burns ( all Q&As have been paraphrased to save my typing but I hope I've captured the essence !)

1. Did TB make a mistake with Parky at the start of the season, and should Asaba have also been given another chance ?
- Initial thoughts on Parky were that a better 'footballer' was needed in midfield. TB admits Parky is 100% unique and loves the club and has taken his chance brilliantly.
TB wanted someone up front able to hold the ball and Asaba was not that type. They had a replacement lined up but the deal fell through ( no names mentioned) . the money for Asaba was too good to turn down. He may have scored goals if he'd stayed but we won't ever know for sure.

2. Are we looking for more firepower up front ?
- He bought Jim McIntyre to score goals, Murty for pace and balance on the right and Polsten for composure at the back. They've played 5 games between them and totally disrupted the pre season planning. They are looking to sign a goalscorer, in fact they are always on the lookout for better players in every position and if TB sees someone who he believes wil improve the team he will try and get him.
He commented that at the start of the season they had to talk to Martin Williams and persuade him that he could be a top player and MW has proved his ability since.

3. Where do you see the team finishing this season ?
Top 6
Big disappointment has been type of goals conceded - set pieces ( TB believes few teams have created many real chances against us). Also problem of concentration.
Only our own mistakes will stop us doing well and he has seen nothing to fear from any other teams. Believes we need to add 1 or 2 players to get to the top.

4. What about the rumoured link back to Celtic.
Definite 'No'
There is considerable potential here and the RFC set up is now as good as anywhere.

5. Does Skittles dive as a result of instructions, and will TB tell him to stop it!
TB seemed unaware of the 'Skittles' nickname.
He said he wasn't instructed to dive and he would tell him to stop it !!

6. Are refs being intimidated by the new stadium ?
If they were wouldn't we be getting the benefit of the decisions !
TB thought it was just down to bad refereeing.

7. Is Mass Sarr suited to English conditions ?
His signing was a gamble. His personal problems have meant he's missed a lot of training and is not properly fit. TB believes that when he is we will see a massive improvement. TB confirmed he sees Mass as a wide player rather than a centre forward.

8. Kromheer or Macca at the back ?
Macca and Linvoy are both good defenders - that's their job and anything more is a bonus. If other players can do a better defensive job they will be chosen.

9. What about the Death Row 5 ?
It's all about opinions !

10. Chris Casper
A quality player and he was very pleased to sign him

11 Who is the number 1 keeper ?
This was an interesting answer. TB wouldn't name a number 1 but said he'd been on the lookout for a new signing ! He said he'd tried to sign the Wigan keeper in the summer but had been quoted 800k which was too much. I got the impression he wasn't over keen on any of the keepers we've got !!

12. Does he think the team lacks pace ?
He quoted Skittles, Mass and Byron as having pace ( plus Murty).

Next was Nigel Howe / Ian W-S / Boyd.
Unfortunately due to writers cramp my notes became a little less exhaustive so ( partly from memory) here goes on this one:

1.How will pedestrians cross the A33 ( from someone who doesn't read the Chronic, HNA or the programme where our questions had already covered this!!)
- by traffic lights at the end of Bennett Road
Nigel also made the admission that the current road arrangements are a complete disaster !

2. Will East Stand seating remain unreserved. ?
The club has had loads of mail asking for it to be made reserved, and loads asking for it to stay the same. They made it unreserved in response to requests from fans so seem a bit caught in the middle. Roger T attempted a show of hands to see what the meeting preferred and succeeded in confusing everyone ! Boyd stepped in and I think the result was that , of those season ticket holders who had an opinion, some were in favour and some against whatever it was proposed......confirming Nigel's original comment that there was no clear solution.

3. The stewards are not nice people
NH said that the club were trying to become a police free zone and as a result one or two tangos had been a bit over assertive. He agreed that there was a problem and they would be addressing it. He stated that the tangos would be put through 'charm school' but pointed out that as they had already been through it once it might not be the answer. There was a lot of discussion on this point during and after the meeting. Some people felt NH had given them a load of flannel but I actually think he genuinely recognised the complaint and agreed to deal with it.
There was no compromise on standing -it's an all seater stadium therefore we all sit was the bottom line.

4. Is there transfer money available ?
I H-W yes - the Asaba money is there to buy players. But it also has to cover signing on fees, wages etc etc

5. When will the RFC signs go up
Still waiting for planning permission but they were on the model and they will be going up. Not getting planning permission was a cockup by the architect.

6. Why can't students but discount tickets by phone
- because they need to show an id card
6a Why can't students book over the phone but show an id card when they pick up their tickets
- good point - we'll do it

7. why was the east Stand the last to get it's facilities
- bacause it was the last stand to be built. There is a lot of work still to be done on the ground and the facilities ( incl decor, seating, shelves to but your beer on)

8. what's the position with the hotel ?
Planning permission received. NH and IW-S going to see JM this week to discuss next steps.

9. When will there be stadium tours
Soon. Richard Wickson who does the Young Royals will be doing them. Cost will be about £2 for an hour's tour, probably on a Sunday.

10. Can away coaches leave from the Mad House ?
Yes ( But Denny Fulbrook stepped in to say all the coach users come from West Reading so want to leave from Elm Park !).

11. Why are thy bringing back No Cash on Matchday policy
It was a disaster last time. They have set up 5 extra East Stand ticket windows which should cope and people are booking ahead more. They believe it is the way forward. they hope to have a number of town centre outlets soon Hexagon, town hall, Tourist Info). They were then asked why they didn't
sell tickets in Didcot - everyone looked a little lost for an answer but the point was well mae that a lot of RFC fans live out of town and have no way of collecting tickets in advance.

12. The Sportsman's Dinner at the Mad House was too pricy for 'normal' fans( £850 for a table of 10 ??) Would the club run functions at more affordable prices ?
- The dinner sold out inside a week so must have been priced right for someone ! Boyd almost leapt at the idea of running events for East Standers as opposed to box holders !! Watch this space !!

13. When will the East Stand concourse become safe to breathe in ?
- the club are looking at some fans to blow the smoke out towards B&Q cheaper than air con !!

14. Why are people stopped from moving from the East Stand to the North Stand when the North Stand itself and it's facilities are less heavily used?
- NH - no idea, seems reasonable for people to do it, would check with the stdium manager to see if there was a safety issue