21. Have you now decided that there is no need for a Director of Football at Barnet?
AAK. We have drifted quite a bit since Paul Fairclough retired and need to find a way forward for the Club that will provide some long-term stability.
I tried this before when moving Rossi up from the under 23s which initially brought some exciting football but the results dipped so I felt the best way to support him was by appointing an experienced mentor in Mark Mcghee.
Immediately, this went wrong and the experiment ended in failure which I will always regret. However, the model is still fundamentally a good one and we just need to get the right personnel in place.
As an aside, our subsequent relegation has ripped the heart out of our whole youth set up and if we do not get promoted this season then we lose our Academy licence so you cannot fault the staff who have all been looking to move to other clubs. This has badly affected morale but we will soldier on and try and find a way forward but need an experienced head with football experience to create a good football ethos throughout the Club.
22. On the occasions when we are selling away tickets for cup ties, please could we find a way for members to buy tickets without going to the Hive in person? It’s a 180mile round trip for me and I’m not easily able to stay after games.
AAK. This is quite difficult sometimes because other Clubs insist on sending us paper tickets which we are obliged to accept and are responsible to pay for, even if they are lost in the post, which happens all too frequently nowadays. The ticket office will normally assist supporters in your position so next time try writing to “for the attention of the ticket office manager” at tellus@BarnetFC.com with your request noting the distance. If you do this as soon as the tie is drawn them I’m sure they will try and help find a solution.
23. What involvement do you have in transfers?
AAK. The manager will normally provide me with their top three or four targets and I will normally agree the deal with the Club and Agent. I do have an input and will pass comment on their choices to understand the rationale. We have a pretty decent success rate of landing the players we go after but ultimately managers stand and fall by these decisions and I, like you, feel that money could have been much better spent.
24. Do you ever stop a player being signed for reasons other than the cost?
AAK. Rarely but it does happen. There are a number of factors that have to be considered that are not always just football related.
25. I believe you have planning permission for another stand at the south end of the ground, plus other facilities such as a sports hall and additional parking. What is the likely timescale for starting these projects?
AAK. We are just working on this now and hope to make some announcements in the coming weeks.
26. Why do we normally only hear from you once a year? Would you consider doing short video interviews a few times a year?
AAK. I do quite a bit of media but nowadays there is so much out there and every answer tends to lead to more questions which can be quite time consuming to deal with. I try not to interfere with the football staff who regularly update you all on all things football but always happy to give more time if the media boys feel some input is necessary.
I have never been on Facebook or twitter but there is talk of having an “official” response on one of your forums which could be a pretty decent idea and can help improve communication and understanding.
27. Do you enjoy watching the matches or does being the owner make that difficult?
AAK. It’s absolutely torturous and I yearn for the days when I could just enjoy a match and not have to carry the baggage of the game home with me. Of course, it’s always more fun when you’re winning….
28. Excluding the current playing staff, which players have you most enjoyed watching since you took over?
AAK. Dougie Freedman was amazing, Jason Puncheon was gifted, as was Albert Adomah. Sean Devine was great fun to watch, Ian Hendon was a great professional and John Akinde was just awesome! There are others but too many to name.
29. If something unfortunate were to happen to you, what would happen to the club?
AAK. This is quite a sobering question; I suppose it will be up to my family.
30. Can you imagine a future scenario where you would choose to appoint Mad Dog again?
AAK. Martin and I have become good friends over the years and I have a lot of respect for the work he has done at the Club, although generally in very short spells! I wouldn’t rule him out; he can be frustrating but also extremely inspirational.
31. Some of your managerial appointments haven’t gone too well. What is the shortest time between making an appointment and you thinking to yourself – I’ve made a mistake? (No need to name the manager concerned.)
AAK. I find it very hard to always land the manager I want. They like the Club and the facilities but know that if they do well, then we will not be big enough to support their ambitions and if they fail then finding a new job will be difficult. However, that does not excuse some of the choices I have made and sometimes you can see the writing on the wall within a few games.
32. Depending on Alfie Pavey’s injury, will we get striker cover?
AAK. This is a difficult one. Strikers are in the highest demand of all and it’s very hard to land the right player the manager wants without paying a significant fee. Right now we are right up to our budget and the League rules would make it very difficult to find the wriggle room for yet another signing.
33. What’s happening with the proposed new south stand?
AAK. See 25.
34. Have you got the fight or interest to get us back to Barnet?
AAK. We have made a new home here now and Harrow Council have been very supportive. I would never rule out a return to Barnet but the politics in the Borough do not lend themselves very well to football and it’s not possible without Council support.
35. Barnet FC’s connection with the town of Barnet has gone. Agree?
AAK. I don’t think it’s gone but of course it’s not what it was.
36. Barnet FC has to address the identity crisis in Edgware. Agree?
AAK. I don’t know about an identity crisis but feel we need to do more to embrace the community around our new home. We certainly need to grow the fan base and hope all supporters can help in this regard.
37. The shuttle bus demise feels like a Barnet artery severed. Agree?
AAK. No, the simple truth is hardly anyone used it.
38. Can you build a Bees fan base with the isolation of Barnet FC?
AAK. Not sure I understand this question, we are not an island.
39. The football club must promote Barnet FC in Barnet. Agree?
AAK. Yes and No. I’m getting on in my years but it seems to me that nowadays everything is about social media so we have expanded our Marketing and PR departments (now four staff) to try and grow our media footprint. This will have a far greater impact than local promotions.
40. Do you think new fans in the Edgware area can be found?
AAK. In our local area, there are large Polish and Romanian communities who are very football friendly and so we must do more to engage these populations and all others locally to help build a stronger fan-base.
41. Club needs to communicate, not alienate. Will you address?
AAK. For fear of alienating anyone…I don’t think our Club alienates at all and certainly we never set out to. Unfortunately, the minutiae of every comment tends to be unpicked on various forums and some enjoy putting a negative slant on everything said. For the record, we welcome all here, even if we do sometimes forget to shine the welcome mat and our Club’s fan base is now one of the most diverse in the UK. We should be proud of the good things.
42. As a fan for over 15 years now, I do not enjoy watching Barnet play home fixtures anywhere near as much as I once did. Do you feel the same and what plans do you have in place to improve this? We cannot simply move from one apology to another.
AAK. This is a very fair comment and I have to agree. The Hive is much bigger than Underhill and is fantastic when full, or even half full but that’s very rare these days. It’s a large singing and positive atmosphere that makes football fun and we could do with all your help and suggestions in the best way to get the place rocking….and yes, I know, entertaining winning football will be a good place to start!
43. With the exciting partnership with a university and a fantastic opportunity to attract over 800 football degree students who are local to the Hive, why have we failed to offer some sort of promotion or simply offer free tickets in the classrooms?
AAK. We have some plans in this regard so hope to build this into our relationship moving forward.
44. Do you take any responsibility for the failure of the first team over the last 3 years and if so, what do you plan to implement to improve the team on the pitch?
AAK. Ultimately, I bear all responsibility and am not trying to deflect blame. However, I am a supporter at heart and just want to enjoy a good game and a good win. I am not a Football Coach and they make the decisions for recruitment, selection and formations.
Appointing Darren Currie was my first step to improve the team on the pitch and feel he will do well if we can all show a bit of patience. I know he and Junior Lewis are desperately trying and would appreciate the Bee Army getting fully behind them and the team.
45. Approximately how much money was made during the FA Cup run and what percentage of this has been invested into the team?
AAK. We made about £500k and ALL was invested in the team. Not a penny comes out of the Club to me or anyone else; it all goes on player salaries, transfer fees, coaches etc. If we sold a player for £10million tomorrow, every penny would go back into the team.
46. I would like to know if you are a Bee’s fan and if so, how come I never see you at The Hive?
AAK. You can’t have been looking very hard as I generally do a 70-90-hour week here but this is quite funny as everyone else complains that I practically live at The Hive!!
47. I would like to ask when is the screen in the east stand going to be fixed it has been out of action for weeks now?
AAK. We thought the problem had been finally repaired but has once again resurfaced.
It’s very annoying and we are now waiting upon yet another new part so let’s hope it
works this time.
48. Can the tannoy system in the Bees stand be looked at because the sound cannot be heard from the speakers clearly unless you happen to be standing directly in front of them I’m sure this must work properly for safety reasons?)
AAK. This is the first I have heard of this so thanks for bringing it to our attention. We will get it looked into and hope the tannoy repair company do a better job than the LED company!
49. When will the first team have a proper cash injection so we can have proven quality players who just may get us promoted and get the crowds back?
AAK. Have you seen the size of our squad and the number of players we have gone through in the last few years? Our problem has not been the availability of financial support but the squandering of money on some players who frankly have just not been up to the task and an extremely unlucky injury crisis that saw about a dozen first team players ruled out with season-long injuries.
50. What is your plan for the club over the next 5 years and how do you want the ground to develop?
AAK. We need to find our own football template and stick with this in the long term to develop our own Barnet way. This will be the long-term project for the Club and we have to get it right this time.
With regards, the ground, well as I have said previously, we hope to make some announcements in this regard over the coming weeks.