Jon Whitney vows to win fans over at Walsall focus meeting
A spirited Jon Whitney passionately discussed Walsall’s future with disgruntled fans at a focus meeting held last night.
The Saddlers boss appeared alongside club directors Stefan Gamble, Dan Mole and Leigh Pomlett at a question and answer session at the Banks’s Stadium.
The meeting was held amidst growing unrest amongst supporters – with many fans concerned about Whitney’s management of the team as well as the direction the club is heading in under owner Jeff Bonser.
Around 300 supporters attended the meeting to discuss matters on and off the field with buoyant Whitney impressing fans with his answers.
He said: “I think we have lost a connection with supporters.
“The season has not finished, we have got plans for this season and the future and we are determined to put smiles on faces.
“I know I cannot turn all of you tonight but I'm determined to turn you over the next few weeks and months.
“I want to walk into this meeting with you patting me on the back. I think you will one day.
“I have been offered many other jobs over the past few years. But I am a Walsall man through and through and I’m determined to make you, the supporters, proud.
“I want us all to be proactive moving forward.”
Alongside Whitney’s vow to bring a brighter future, a host of other issues were also raised at the meeting.
In questions submitted to Bonser – who refused to attend – it was revealed the owner would consider any “sensible” offers to purchase the club.
He also confirmed he would be keen to unite Walsall Football Club with the Banks’s Stadium, which the chairman owns as a separate entity in a pension fund.
Chief executive Gamble then revealed the current market value for the freehold of the ground would be between £5million and £7million.
Mole also confirmed the entire board would like to unite the football club with the freehold – with that potentially possible if the club receives a lucrative sell-on should ex-Saddlers striker Troy Deeney leave Watford this January.
Walsall negotiated a sell-on clause that will see them secure 20 per cent of any profit above the £500,000 they sold Deeney for in 2010.
And that means the club will receive a substantial cash windfall if the striker, who has been linked with moves to Newcastle and Albion this month, does move on.
Elsewhere, Whitney revealed a host of other matters affecting the team on the field.
As well as confirming his intentions to sign a couple of attacking players this month, the boss also disclosed youngsters Liam Kinsella and Kory Roberts are in talks to sign new contracts.
He also said James Wilson – who made a shock exit from the club yesterday and is expected to join Lincoln – was offered a lucrative deal to join the Imps and moved for family reasons.
Finally Gamble revealed Walsall have sat down with the representatives of star man Erhun Oztumer three times to discuss a new contract.
But while the 26-year-old has so far refused those offers, the chief executive said he hasn’t ruled out committing his long-term future to the club.
"We have spoken to Erhun's agent on three occasions and made really good offers,” Gamble said.
“Erhun up to now has declined those offers but he has not said an outright no to us.
“He has said he has got options and he wants to consider those options.”