Barnet FC would like to thank the Bees fans who have sent in their questions to Chairman Tony Kleanthous.
To recap the answers given in Part 1, click here.
11) We haven’t seen a huge number of incomings at the club this summer. Do you think we have enough quality in the squad to improve on what was an ultimately disappointing season in 2016/17?
I am writing this after the transfer deadline and have to say I am full of optimism. We have arguably the best strikers from the National League and in League 2 plus some exciting young prospects all over the pitch with higher League pedigree. We have also strengthened the back line with two new young but experienced full backs and a goalkeeper who will provide genuine competition for the first team jersey. Unfortunately, we just missed out on our midfield target by a few minutes but we hope to have more news about this soon. With positive support I believe we can go all the way…
12) What are the benefits of not disclosing transfer fees?
We have never chosen this route but it is a requirement of some clubs mainly because they do not want to disclose their business to their competitors.
13) We were promoted to the football league in 2004/05 with Carlisle United and in 2014/15 Bristol Rovers. On both occasions these clubs kicked on and won promotion to League One immediately (a lot of other promoted clubs have done the same) however we seemed to struggle. Why do you think this is?
Quite simple, both these clubs have much larger fan bases than we do so are able to really maximise the financial benefit of promotion. You only have to look at our crowds following promotion on both occasions to see that the average barely increased after such a great achievement. This means we cannot invest the significant sums needed to push on to another level from crowd revenue alone.
14) Why does the club advertise home matches on the electric board outside The Hive using only club badges? Very few people would be able to identify who is playing who, let alone identifying the sport. For example Barnet v Luton in lights will attract the attention of far more passing motorists than the sight of two club badges.
Good point, I will inform our marketing team.
15) Since the move to The Hive, I understand you have spent considerable time trying to attract local supporters. Would it not now be a good idea to try and attract the lost and possibly new fans in our actual town, where the community are more likely to be football minded?
We really struggled at Underhill when the ground was on people’s doorstep so I’m not sure we would fare much better in Barnet now. We run a bus directly through the town but this is rarely full, however, I have not given up on our roots and we will always represent Barnet with pride. For now we have to concentrate on getting local support around our new home at the Hive London.
16) Why when telephoning The Hive (and emails) do we get the message, "You have reached The Hive London etc”, and not, “You have reached The Hive, home of Barnet FC”?
The brief when this was recorded was to keep the message as short as possible and generic so this goes in the “didn’t think of it at the time” file. It’s the biggest file in the building but we are still a work in progress so don’t worry you will be seeing more improvements.
17) Have you ever thought about a large advertisement board on the back of the West Stand in order to advertise home matches? With Spurs playing at Wembley next season this would be an ideal time to do this with thousands of "football" fans passing the ground on the tube in addition to the thousands that already pass in the daily rush hour. I am assuming there are no advertising regulations restricting this.
The answer to your question is yes and we do have some plans regarding this, which hopefully will come to fruition soon.
18) After achieving a near 2 decade mission of finding a new home for the Bees, I'm curious to know what the things you focus on now are and what are your ambitions for the club across all aspects of the modern game?
I made several commitments when I bought the club which I set out in the “Working Together” documents produced and published in early 2000. These clearly laid out how we needed to build a new training ground and community facilities, a stadium fit for our professional ambitions, and a FL Academy. I have never deviated from these plans despite some very strong opposition at times and my sole motivation has always been to do what's best for the Club.
Today we have facilities that make us the envy of most professional clubs but I must say I have been surprised by some of the politics and defamation we have had to overcome on the way. As we grow this becomes more distracting and I end up having to constantly defend our motives but we have kept focus with the task at hand. Sadly, not all fans stayed with the club, we have lost some support on the way and although nothing hurts more than the destructive criticism from our own supporters we have still managed to steer a successful path.
Overall Barnet fans have been very patient and supportive and I still have a couple of personal milestones left to achieve but if the Club is to achieve success on the field then we need to grow our fan base and really start to get behind the team. This is the final piece of the puzzle and the new focus of our endeavours.
Of course it’s harder now more than ever to draw support when competing with all the other available attractions in the capital. Add to this the multitude of bite size football content on viewing devices and now Wembley, which is in our catchment area, playing host to Premiership clubs and you can start to appreciate the challenge ahead.
So this is the next hurdle for us to overcome and to succeed we have to make watching football affordable as well as balance our costs. This is tough because the perception is that because we are in League Two we should be able to charge the same as teams in the North but the simple truth is that living in London and paying London wages comes at a huge premium. It should be noted that when I arrived at Barnet FC over twenty years ago the premium seated price was £23 which included 17.5% VAT, today our premium seats are only £25 with VAT higher at 20% so our charges have
increased by less than 7% yet the cost of living in London has more than doubled over the same period with player salaries nearly seven or eight times what they were back then!
This is where we need your help and every one of you can make a difference. Regular support through our membership scheme, which already represents tremendous value, is where we need to focus attention and we believe our 2017 promotion is an amazing opportunity for our fans. We are approaching the half way mark and if all of you got a friend to join then it would be effectively free as all members will be half price. The average price per game can be less than £10!!! With a buzzing Hive we will go up so the rest really is up to you...
19) Manchester United away, Wycombe at Underhill, Gateshead at The Hive all attracted over 5,000 - how will you 'woo' the 5,000 Bee Army to turn out?
How indeed, answers on a postcard please… I have tried everything in the last twenty years and seriously don’t know if that’s possible beyond having a winning team. All three of the above were special occasions and we need more of them and some fantastic new memories at the Hive.
20) Bees moved, but its paramount our identity as Barnet Football Club remains, how will you keep it?
In the past, the identity of a club was borne from its roots as a town or from works teams. In the modern day these clubs have evolved into brands in their own right and in some cases are bigger than the town from which they originated. We must also grow and evolve as a brand so we can be more attractive and appeal to a wider support base whilst always preserving our tradition and heritage. I don’t know whether the future looks amber or orange but I’m content with our current path.
21) Could the club get the Conference trophy permanently as we won it three times?
It’s fitting that as the only team to win the trophy three times and the last ever team to win the competition that it should be donated to Barnet FC. The previous Chairman of the then Football Conference, Brian Lee, was very honourable and proposed this as the suitable course of action based on tradition in these matters and I have to say I was severely disappointed when the newly appointed board subsequently did not go ahead with the proposal.
22) Although the media and communication department have been much better since the current man took over, I feel like there is much more to do. When you look at our website there are missing player profiles, staff profiles, both in the senior squad and in the U23 and the academy bit. Could you look this over because many of us fans are interested in stats, bio and facts about players (both youth and senior).
I have to confess that I seldom have the time to visit our website but they are a new team working hard and I’m certain this will improve. Please give them a little time and write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you still feel we are lacking.
23) What are the club doing to increase the atmosphere at the ground? The singing is almost gone and the enthusiasm during the games are often far from good. Some tips are to have like a singing section where you can have flags and a drum, much like almost every country in Europe has besides England. I'm from Sweden and we are a fantastic example of creating an atmosphere for every single game, regardless of the calibre of the opposition.
We discussed this a few times with the Supporter Liaison group and we tried introducing a singing section but this didn’t really catch on. We need more noise and I was really impressed with our new “Bombay Bees” fans, who now number over thirty, and brought a Dhol drum along to the pre-season match versus Swansea lifting the atmosphere at The Hive. I have always encouraged Village as he tries to add a bit of life to the place but the soul comes from you all so let us or your supporter liaison officers know of any ideas you may have because it would be great to get the place really buzzing.
24) When do you hope we will become a category 2 youth academy? What benefits will this bring?
We now have everything in place bar the on-site Indoor Hall hence our planning application. Hopefully we can get this through planning in the next few months and then start on the next stage development although we already have opposition from our local MP, Bob Blackman, who seems to struggle with decent behaviour and factual information.