Businessman Martin Hellier, the owner of Hellier Group which sponsors the Main Stand at Huish Park has spoken to the BBC’s Matt Faulkner about his interest in Yeovil Town and what he would do if he were the owner. Here’s a transcript from his interview yesterday.
MH: “I think in business it would always be a wonderful luxury to be acquiring a very successful, very achieving business but by sheer definition it is probably unlikely to be for sale at any reasonable price for someone like my point of view. One of the main enjoyments of business for me is the challenge of it, taking something that might not be in the best possible condition and making efficiencies and improvements.”
MF: You mentioned your tweet earlier about expressing an interest in the club, you also stated that you wouldn’t be interested in being in a part-owner. So does that mean on some level, you’d actually like to run the club?
MH: “I think in terms of running the club, running it as the chairman of the club, but any successful business does surround itself with some very clever people and that is certainly how we operate as a group.
“I think in terms of consortiums and so on, when suddenly, with eh greatest of respect, everyone’s coming out of the woodwork and saying I’ll run it with this person, we’ll run it together with these people, well I can only look at my history in a sense of without being in the driving seat of being able to make decisions, your voice and opinions and the way you want to take things forward can become very diluted and then you’ve suddenly got multiple directors arguing about how much we should charge for a cup of coffee down there or something.
“That’s not to say I know everything, I have some very clever advisors in our group who will give me the best advice that they feel is right.
“It goes back to how you run a business and how good you are at running a business and how free you are to make those choices and, quite rightly, how you are the only one to blame when it goes wrong.”
MF: Martin, fans will hear you talking about business, and I think will set alarm bells going. We hear on bigger stages of football clubs, we hear fans think that the board is removed from the lcub, they only want to make money, they don’t want to see the club successful, other than to make money. How are you going to convince them that actually there is a proper balance that you can have here that could allow you to do what you want to do and the fans to see what they want to see on the pitch?
MH: “Of many opportunities which have come up to me before, I have never felt so committed to wanting to make this one work and at the same time I have never been more realistic of the unlikelihood of possibly getting very much back from it.
“I can understand the suspicion and concern – what’s the hidden agenda? I think you can only portray yourself at this stage to someone who is genuinely committed. There’s several elements to this business and none of which are mutually exclusive to each other in my view, of what the problem is.
“First and foremost, player investment is lacking. From what I have seen recently, players need the confidence to press forward and take opportunities. Recently they are a little stiff on the pitch, partly down to the feeling of low morale throughout the stadium, the general animosity on social media and the pressure they are under when you are hovering around the relegation zone. And that is reflecting the confidence of the players who’ve not got the sort of mavericks.
“I believe also the mechanism of feeding up players from grass roots no longer exists and that need to be addressed along with the heritage, we don’t seem to call ourselves giant-killers so much these days.
“The next point is clearly there is a disconnect between the fan base and the current owner which would need restoring. Retail business is consumer driven and football clubs are fan driven. You have to restore the dialogue between representatives of the fans like the Glovers’ Trust and so on and the club itself.
“The (lack of) matchday experience is a coming through a lot from fans and needs to be addressed. There needs to be a programme of continual improvement of standards for the fans in terms of the amenities, the outdated decor of the bar and catering facilities and so on – it’s not just one thing, it’s many things.”
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