Leigh Pomlett vows to make big changes at Walsall

He met the media for the first time as Walsall’s owner and chairman yesterday – and Leigh Pomlett vowed to make changes that will be music to the ears of all Saddlers supporters.

Stefan Gamble and new owner Leigh Pomlett
Stefan Gamble and new owner Leigh Pomlett

The international businessman, a fan since he was five, vowed to do everything in his power to unite the club with the freehold of the Banks’s Stadium.

But he also promised to increase the playing budget in order to give Walsall the best possible chance of success on the pitch.

There are no bigger issues for those who stand on the terraces.

And in terms of the playing budget, Pomlett has already got work. Despite only being confirmed as chairman on Monday, the 62-year-old has been the key decision maker at the Banks’s Stadium for the past few months.

He appointed Darrell Clarke as the club’s manager. And he has already diverted more funds into the playing budget.

“I will be directing more of the cash in the business into the playing budget,” the chairman said.

“I have already done that and I will continue to channel as much as I can into the playing budget.

“Darrell Clarke hasn’t given me one name yet that we haven’t got.

“Stuart Sinclair, James Clarke, Gary Liddle, Rory Holden – he wanted to sign these players and we have done it.

“I want us to focus more on the playing side and making sure we are very successful.

“This club is an interesting business model because it has wonderful conference and banqueting facilities which other clubs would kill for.

“Sometimes fans think we focus too much on that side rather then the football. Actually they are mutually required.

“They don’t have any business without the football club and visa-versa

“It’s important we continue with that side of the business.

“But there will be a shift in emphasis, mark my words, I mean a shift in emphasis.

“I want us putting more money into the playing budget.”

Previous owner Jeff Bonser owned Walsall Football Club and the Banks’s Stadium as separate entities. He then charged the club rent to play at the ground, with that money going into a pension fund of which he was a beneficiary.

Pomlett confirmed no reduction in the rent payment will be forthcoming. But he said he is determined to purchase the freehold to end it once and for all.

“I insisted when I bought the club that I had the option to buy the freehold,” he continued. “Not for me personally, but for the club. I insisted upon that as part of the deal. If that was not there I would not have bought the club.

“I believe uniting the club with the freehold is an important step.

“I can’t do that now, there are technical and financial reasons why I can’t do that now. But I will be putting together a plan with the rest of the board to achieve that over time. I wish I could do it tomorrow but I am a company director not a magician. It has to be managed over time. But I am determined to make it happen.”

Asked if he could guarantee a purchase of the freehold, Pomlett added: “It is on my agenda to make it happen. There are no guarantees, it’s not an easy thing to do, whenever you deal with property transactions and freeholds it’s complex. But it is my intention to do it and as soon as I can I will do it.”

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