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3rd March 2023 0:30

Fans' forum, Tues 28 Feb 2023
CEO David Sharpe and manager Nigel Clough
Host: Mark Stevenson

in conjunction with the Stags Supporters’ Association.
venue: 1861 Suite at One Call Stadium
sold out (over 190 supporters in attendance)

Available in full on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIZNfGYU-dE&feature=youtu.be

selected comments, transcribed by Martin:

Q to Nigel: When are you getting a new contract?
Nigel: There's no rush. No great hassle. What we don't want is anything to distract the next 3 months' work that we've got to do.
If we are as bad as we were on Saturday, you might not want to be asking that question.
David: The appetite is for Nigel to stay. He's done an outstanding job since he's been here. Having stability shows you what you can do.
If it's not to be this season that we're to be promoted, then possibly it's next season. So far we're making progress on and off the pitch.
It comes down to the owners and the board - they're big fans of Nigel.
We don't want any distractions, it's right for the summer.

Q to David: how do you feel you've done (in the job)?
David: That's for everybody else to answer I suppose. I feel I've done ok.

Q to David: Are you committed for the long haul?
David: In football, something could happen tomorrow. I'd like to think so. There has to be a level of success. If we finish in the play-offs again, that's two years on the bounce. Things off the pitch are going better.
It's the owners John and Carolyn ... it's their ambition ... if they're happy with me. So far, I just carry on and crack on and see where it takes us.

Q to David: Any thoughts of you investing in the club?
David: For me it's a job. I love coming in to work. I love working with Nigel and the guys.
But for me, investing in a football club ... you don't see a return on your money ...
Nigel interjects: he's not that daft!
David: With the levels of finance that John and Carolyn have put in over the years, 100% credit to them. It takes a lot and passion and drive and deep pockets and they've not wavered from their ambition.
I'll leave them to keep investing.

Q to David: are there plans in place to increase the capacity for next season?
David: It will be very tough to get it done for the start of next season.
It was very close to selling out the home ends on Saturday, we didn't quite, but it was very close.
It all come down to the obvious, which is Bishop Street. There are plans in place. However John and Carolyn have always discussed, if we're in League One that's something they might push the button on. It's their money, it's their decisions. It will be a big investment. It's not cheap at all.
There's various things. You could go for a stand like at Harrogate or Salford. A 2000 seater or all standing if you're allowed to do that. You still have issues with the houses behind.
It comes down to what league we're in and if John and Carolyn are happy to do it.

Q: Is Elliott Hewitt's contract due to exire at the end of the season?
Nigel: yes it is, but we do have an option on it, so technically he has up to 18 months left.
We have entered into negotiations to extend that by another year.
David: That's progressing very well.

Q about kiosks. Answer not transcribed.
Q about closing Quarry Lane after the game to let pedestrians leave. Answer not transcribed.

Q: This season we've changed the way our home attendances are announced from the actual number of fans present to the number of tickets sold. Why is that and how does this benefit the club?
David: Last season we were doing the same. Maybe before my time we announced the actual attendance rather than including all season ticket holders.
Every club I believe, or 90% of them, announce attendances as though all season ticket holders have turned up.
We want to show a higher attendance because we're competing ... when you see the average attendance, they'll be including all season ticket holders.
For example at Bradford, they announced the attendance was 18,000. The actual was probably not anywhere near that.
The majority of clubs do do that. We certainly did it at Wigan, because otherwise our attendances would be 5-6,000 some games, and you could be embarrassed about it.
If there's an appetite to do actuals rather than including season ticket holders, we can look at it. It's normally affected by just a couple of hundred. You might only have about 8% or 10% that don't show.

Q about cleaning of stadium, pigeons being culprits. Answer mostly not transcribed. Someone is coming with a hawk.

Q about left back:
Nigel: We had Lewis Page ear-marked as back-up. He got injured in the Notts Senior Cup game.
We looked in January. There's not many out there.
David: We came close to signing a left back in January. But that club we were getting him from couldn't find a left back to replace him. We thought it was going to get done.

Q about Friday night games. Answer not transcribed.

Q: what is Danny Johnson's attitude like in training?
Nigel: he's fine in training, no problems.

Q on PA system. Answer not transcribed.

Q about Pym vs Flinders
Nigel: I think Christy is a better goalkeeper. Simple as that. Need our best team on the pitch. He's our number one.
Scott ... we have an option on him for next season ... because he is a brilliant to have around the place and as good a number two as you will have.

Q on Hiram Boateng. Answer not transcribed.

Q on Jason Law. Answer not transcribed.

Nigel: we don't have a massive scouting network. We go out and watch the games ourselves, myself, Simon, Gary, Andy and Michael Forsyth is the only other one we have.
They are at 3 games tonight: Simon is at Harrogate, Gary has gone to watch Wimbledon, and Michael Forsyth has gone to Kettering to watch the 3 loan players we have.

Q to David: where do you think we'll be in the next 5 years?
David: You have to be realistic. You look at the top end of League One, you've got Sheff Wed, Derby, big football clubs. I think in 5 years time middle of League One is not unrealistic.
Anything is possible but there has to be a sense of realism.

Q: who do you thing is our most improved player ... Elliott Hewitt?
Nigel: I wouldn't disagree with Elliott Hewitt.
We're very pleased with Christy Pym as well. The main thing we look at (in a keeper) is Christy doesn't cost us goals. He's made very few errors.

Q: when will Stephen Quinn retire?
Nigel: It might be his last season. But don't hold me or him to that. He might change his mind. It's great to have him around and on the pitch.

Q: this goes to Cloughie, question on Lewis Page
Nigel: It's Nigel. One (Cloughie) is a little bit rude and one (Nigel) is more polite.
Lewis Page is not training with us any more. He trained with us up til January, he's training with another club at the moment. He couldn't quite get fit. He was getting fit and then we couldn't commit to anything so he's off with another club at the moment.

Q: we see Andy Garner on the phone a lot during the game, who's he talking to?
Nigel: We have an analyst upstairs. You get a different view of the game from when you're at pitchside. It is a better view from up there in terms of seeing an overall picture of the game, but you can't get involved as much.

Q: about right backs in the Vanarama National League.
Nigel: I'm not aware of any great right backs who are as good as what we've got.
But the striker at Notts County Langstaff is certainly scoring some goals. And there's a few very good Wrexham players. Unfortunately they're on about 3 or 4 times what our players are earning!
Wrexham are taking players from League One and they're getting a pay-rise. They are changing the landscape.
And Colchester and Gillingham are changing the landscape as well.

Q about deals in January
Nigel: We'd been after a centre half since the summer. If Alfie Kilgour had been fit and available, we'd have taken him then.
Davis Keillor-Dunn - we were so close to getting him in the summer. He just chose Burton in League One ahead of us.
David: When we sold Hawks and Lapslie, there's always a plan. We just don't tell you the plan.
We'd been chasing Keillor-Dunn for the last 3 windows.
Reed came about ... we didn't think he was available because he's such a good player ... it came about randomly, I was on the phone to the Director of Football at Swindon and he said do you want Louis Reed. I knew straight away that Nigel and Gary would want him.
David: Alfie we paid a fee for, Louis Reed we paid a fee for, Keillor-Dunn we paid a fee for, Callum Johnson we paid a small fee for.
But we were within what we sold Hawkins and Lapslie for.

Q on Christy Pym
Nigel: It's just a loan at the moment. David's got to negotiate with Barry Fry over that one.

Q from Dean: I've got commitment from the SSA committee to donate £10k from the fans for a canopy outside Sandys.
David: Either just a cover which doesn't stop rain coming in sideways, or to have sides as well with a bar and heaters in. Hopefully put in place for October.

Q about pre-season friendlies
Nigel: we've planned to go to York. Also Retford.
We may well go up to Scotland. Hopefully at least one game up there on a Tuesday evening. We'll go on a Monday. We also might play a game on the way back on the Friday, where York might come into it.

Q about Corey O'Keeffe and Carl Piergianni
Nigel: We thought we had better options in that position (Corey O'Keeffe). We didn't think he was good enough defensively.
We did try at several junctures (to sign Carl Piergianni). Then we felt that he was at the wrong age for what we were looking for in the summer. We like Carl a lot, we think he's a good genuine centre half.
We did try to sign him in a couple of windows.