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Save Our Southend
Oct 26, 2003
Hockley now on loan to Rayleigh
Chairman's Blog

Firstly before I deal with Q&A there are one or two things to clear up.

The first relates to Peter Clarke and an article in today’s Echo. In last week’s blog I set out the position, once again, surrounding Peter but for the record there have been no discussions with Peter about him renewing his contract since he and I me in my office, following the window closing, on 10th September 2008.

At that time Peter wanted to focus on his football which I respected and to keep his options open until the end of this season. Before the start of the season, i.e. July 2008, we made it clear to Peter’s agent that we would be interested in extending his current contract but here again the agent wished to keep Peter Clarke’s options open and would not engage in discussions on his behalf at that time.

It was for this reason Peter was placed on the transfer list, in August 2008, for clearly with the clock running down he would have no value to the Club at the end of this season – which is now the case (the Club paid £300k for Peter going into the Championship). Whilst we would have extended his contract in July last year we are now saying we still want Peter to remain at Southend United and wish to talk to him about a new contract. With just two remaining games hopefully we can have those formal discussions with Peter and his agent soon.

I have been unequivocal and consistent and I hope once again I have made it clear that Southend United would like Peter Clarke to stay at Southend United. Whether terms can be agreed I do not know but I hope so.

The BBC website took this out of context by referring to conversations that were had in July 2008 but making them sound as if they were conducted in the last week or two and on the back of that the Echo article of today has appeared. Finally, Steve Tilson yesterday reiterated to Peter that we would like to talk to him about a new contract and I understand has put the Echo straight as well.

After dealing with negative things I would like to move onto more positive things but right now that is not the case.

Since last Saturday’s match against Leicester City (including on Sunday) I have received a number of emails about the Leicester City fans who occupied corporate boxes above the East Black section of the ground and also the fracas which took place in the north end of the West Stand. I of course cannot be involved in everything that goes on in the Football Club but certainly do not mind people writing to me directly if they have got a concern and will always try to help. I have therefore investigated the position particularly in regard to the West Stand “activity” having reviewed very carefully earlier this afternoon the relevant part of the security video which is about 20 minutes duration. I then spoke to the police who confirmed that four Leicester City fans were sitting in the Southend section block W – I guess quietly trying to keep their heads down knowing that they should not have been sitting there.

No one is going to tell me that this is an unusual occurrence for whenever the away clubs allocation is sold out there is always an attempt by fans to creep in under the radar. This is not so difficult to do and no amount of questioning or trying to control such a situation will capture every away fan if they are truly intent on getting into the ground to watch their team. Our ticket office staff are trained to prevent these situations but not every Leicester City fan has a Leicester accent or lives in Leicester, and certainly would not declare “I am a Leicester City supporter”! Obviously if they were wearing colours they would never have got into those seats in the first place.

In answer to some of the points which people have written to me about; Geoffrey King and Dave Jobson were given information by the authorities and reported that in good faith. Having read Geoffrey’s statement myself yesterday I could never understand that Southend fans would be fighting amongst themselves and after now speaking to the authorities they now accept that this was probably a misunderstanding and may have looked as such with “Southend supporters scrambling across the seats in the melee”.

As I say, having looked at the video, I can see absolutely no evidence of Southend fans fighting amongst each other and why would we? We are all working to the same end, you, I and the Club, and that is to ensure that we remain Southend United. I have said many times how proud I am of Southend fans and I do not want anything to undermine our brilliant, and growing, reputation. That said, of course we will not condone violence and as Geoff says, if a situation arises where our fans are to blame then I would not hesitate in banning that person or persons from the Club.

Still, that does not appear to be the case here and I would like to put this behind us. I will however be reviewing the already stringent policing of ticket sales and will never again be allowing the Club to sell corporate boxes to away fans irrespective of how much reassurance our commercial department staff may receive as we did on this occasion from Virgin Media.

We are a family Club and I intend to make sure that we are sending out the right messages to the growing number of families that we attract.

Last week’s blog was too long and therefore I will just be answering a few questions this week in view of what I say above:

Can you give an assurance that your good-self is committed to Southend United for the long-term future, after the new stadium is up and running?

Matthew Marsh

Certainly I have no intention of stepping down after the stadium is completed for I might actually begin to enjoy life a little more. At the moment whilst Saturday afternoons are great, achieving our objectives is, as one supporter recently suggested, “like pushing water uphill with a fork”. I thought that was a very apt description although this week some major building blocks which were anticipated have now been buttoned down.

In particular I am very pleased with the proactive approach from Southend Borough Council in recognition of the Club’s importance to the Town and the level of investment that is being made by ourselves and Sainsbury’s.

In further answer to your question; at the end of the day I am only a custodian of your Football Club but I do have ambitions to ensure the Club’s sustained success which will come about through the stadium development and our future growth which I would like to head up.

When SUFC move to new stadium will they be keeping their excellent ground staff or will the care of the pitch be contracted out as some Clubs do.


We have no plans to change the Club’s ground staff. I agree with you, Ken Hare and his colleagues are excellent and there are certainly no plans to contract out.

1) In the new stadium will there be a 'museum room' dedicated to the history of Southend United old programmes, team kits of yester-year etc…

2) In the new stadium will there be any 'flash advertising' around the ground. I find this not only distracting to the game but some fans (me included) are allergic to it.

Douglas Shaw

1. I think a “museum room” is a good idea and perhaps fans can let us know, possibly via Shrimpers Trust, and I will do my best to ensure we organise something of which everyone can be proud.

2. If you mean by “flash advertising” the LED screens that we often see on TV the answer is yes I am considering these. It is not an item which is high on the agenda at present and we will be first investigating whether there is potential distraction for players, or indeed fans for that matter. I assume you do not really mean allergic, moreover you simply do not like them. If you come out in spots let me know!

My question is regarding the quote 'we would want to bring as much comfort to our supporters as possible'.

Having been to MKDons stadium and as such having sat in their seats, I really didn't enjoy the experience. The seats were indeed very comfortable, reasonably large and padded.

However, for me this isn't football. It's one thing not being able to stand at games (I understand the reasons behind this), but turning football into a real spectator sport, in a way that you feel as though you're not involved, you feel just like you're at the cinema is just plain wrong. For me I wouldn't ever want that, I want plastic seats if we have seats at all, nothing fancy.

I realise you didn't directly say you are considering padded seats, but I wanted to make sure that the idea wasn't one you were considering as I think it would be poor for the noise levels at the game (you don't feel like shouting at a cinema, do you?) and poor for the football fan experience.

If indeed the quote has nothing to do with padded seats and more to do with sufficient leg-room then of course I agree with that, as long as the fans are still close to the pitch, as you have previously stated.

If you are unsure as to the general supporters opinion I'll gladly attempt to gather a petition in favour of the plastic seats, as I'm confident the consensus will be.

Thank you for taking the time to read my questions and for being a top class chairman.
Fred Rivett

In terms of seat comfort we have designed the stadium to provide what is known as C90 visibility which should avoid the possibility of a restricted view i.e. even if a person of 6’4” is sitting in the seat in front, you will still be able to see over their head. To go with this the distance between the seat in front will be a minimum of 80cm and I can tell you that both these specifications reflect that adopted at the new Wembley.

I note you do not like “padded seats” but I would suspect you may be in the minority. It is very early days to be selecting seats although I have seen a number of ranges on my travels. Suffice to say what we will not be installing is flimsy plastic seats which bend at the edges if you do not sit squarely.

We intend, again via the Shrimpers Trust, to conduct surveys on various issues surrounding the stadium specification, particularly the touchy/feely bits, and perhaps they can include a heading on seating. If the survey comes out with seats different from those proposed then we will take account of supporters’ views. I am not here to impose my ideas on everybody and whilst I do not expect to keep everyone happy all of the time I do my best to accommodate the majority. Fred, you should perhaps appreciate that seat technology does move on and every time a new stadium is built the manufacturers try to cater for the masses having conducted their own extensive surveys etc.

As regard to the acoustics, we have spent some time ensuring that we not only achieve a good atmosphere in the bowl environment but also that there is limited breakout as we would want to lessen as far as reasonably possible disturbance to neighbouring properties trying to harbour as much sound within the building itself. These issues have been computer modelled and I only hope they work in practice - what we create at Roots Hall needs to be preserved and enhanced. I can confirm that fans will be close to the pitch as I have previously stated. In fact again this will be very similar to Roots Hall in that respect.

Up the Blues!

Ron Martin
Southend United Football Club