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2022: The year Trivela changed the face of Walsall

Back in early June Walsall fans were looking ahead to the new campaign - hopeful Michael Flynn might just be able to bring them some success.

Benjamin Boycott and Leigh Pomlett following the announcement
Benjamin Boycott and Leigh Pomlett following the announcement

What they weren't expecting to happen was a US company come in and take the majority stake in the club and transform the face of the Saddlers.

But that is exactly what happened in shock fashion in early June - when Trivela, a US sports investment firm that were set up in 2021, came in to buy a majority stake from Leigh Pomlett.

It was the news Walsall fans weren't expecting but had long been hopeful for.

Since then, fortunes have improved on the pitch and the positive news has kept coming off it.

Here is a look back at 2022 and the year where the face of Walsall changed

The takeover

It was June 6, and out of nowhere the club announces that Trivela have taken an initial 51 per cent stake in the club.

Along with the announcement, the group and the club also confirmed that within two years they would take a further 25 per cent from Pomlett - and provide the resources to buy the freehold of the Bescot Stadium.

The firm, from Birmingham, Alabama, was formed by Benjamin Boycott and Kenneth Polk, with the former joining the board of directors and serving as co-chairman with Pomlett who agreed to stay on for four years to help with the transition.

In his initial statement, Boycott showed his ambition for the club and how the new owners wanted to build a sustainable club.

He said: "We are honoured to become a part of the community of Walsall, and to play a part in the rich history of this club,” said Boycott.

Benjamin Boycott and Leigh Pomlett a the press conference announcing the takeover

“As investors, we are extremely drawn to the passion that this town has for the team, and extremely impressed with the work that management has done to build a sustainable football club.

“We are here to learn, and we are here to support Leigh and the rest of the executive leadership team with strategic vision and strategic capital.

"We look forward to working alongside the leadership team to support Michael Flynn, the staff, and players as we prepare for the 22-23 campaign and beyond.”

It also emerged discussions had taken place for the previous year, with Pomlett explaining: “Stefan Gamble and I have been in discussion with them for nearly 12 months, have visited them in the United States, and believe that they are the right group with the right vision to help take the club forward.

"The supporters will have the opportunity to see the impact of this partnership firsthand, as the Saddlers Club will be refurbished and reopened, and the club will execute its purchase option and be reunited with the Poundland Bescot Stadium freehold."

The new era begins.

A big boost to the budget

Boycott confirms that £300,000 has been put into the infrastructure of the club - with some aimed towards the rundown Saddlers Club.

And he also insisted that the playing budget has been boosted - and that is evident with Flynn going on to bring in a number of quality signings.

Boycott explained: "The capital that comes in just for the stadium is significant. That's a big investment. The Saddlers Club is a big investment.

"Operationally, what all those pieces look like as far as player budget and those sorts of things, those are all ongoing discussions.

"Our specific view is not for unsustainable spend on the playing budget in an effort to buy promotion.

"It doesn't guarantee success and can leave the club in a worse position than you started out.

"We believe in steady, incremental improvement. The club has had a very competitive playing budget, and that's one of the puzzle pieces to make the technical side work.

"The club will continue to have a very competitive playing budget.

"As far as what that specifically looks like, we're sorting all that out."

Help off the pitch as well as on

It isn't just with stadium, infrastructure and the playing squad Trivela are interested in.

Two months after taking over, it is announced the Trivela Foundation, a USA-based non-profit organisation has formed a Walsall FC Foundation.

The Trivela Foundation made an initial grant of just over £35,000 to the Walsall FC Foundation, which was going to be used to support, inspire and mentor children at a critical stage of their education.

A new era begins for Walsall

The move was a step that showed Trivela were interested in more than just the football side of things and their community intentions were evident.

It is ours! Saddlers own their own home again

It had all been quiet from the Walsall owners for a few months - but work is going on behind the scenes.

Then again, out of nowhere, the news that some Saddlers fans had been waiting for for 30 years.

The US investment firm executes its option to own the stadium and buys the freehold from former owner Jeff Bonser - meaning the Saddlers own their home for the first time since 1990.

Boycott said: "A landmark day in the club's life.

"As of now, the club owns its own stadium after decades of tenancy. The club's home for the future in the town is secure.

"The club owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Mr Pomlett, who has delivered on his promise from 2019 to facilitate a situation where the club would be reunited with the freehold."

It is huge news and a game changing announcement for the Saddlers.

Let's get to work

Trivela have already been working harder on changing the club. And in an update to fans, Boycott talks about aspects they are continuing to work on.

They are looking to improve matchday experiences, food outlets and pre-match entertainment and stated that consultants were already looking at the Saddlers Club to decide what was needed to renovate the building next to the stadium.

Boycott said when they took over in June, they barely had a month before the first game of the season and had to focus on working with manager Michael Flynn to get a squad together.

He said: “We are football people, we were before we came here and we are heavily competitive on the field so maybe that was the focus in the early weeks because for one thing we had to get a squad together and a team out for the first game.

“But the renovation of the infrastructure of the club so that these areas are open to all has always been a priority and maybe now we have increased the shareholding and completed the purchase of the ground we can really get going on this.

“We need to attract as many people to games as we can and that doesn’t just mean by us winning on the field, it is about things like the food that is on offer and where people can meet around the ground before the game.

“As I speak there are contractors inside the Saddlers Club looking at what needs to be done with the renovation of it – we mentioned this as a priority when we first came here and it is even more important now.”

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