Matt Southall first impressions
Matt Southall had already shown more compassion and humility in a few weeks than Roland Duchatelet did in 6 years. He was clearly humbled by the welcome he got when he first walked into fans at the Sheffield Wednesday game.
Southall has done his Addicks research, but he is soon finding out that he has only scratched the surface of what a power house of joint forces of boardroom, coaching staff, players and fans can make.
In today’s first interview Southall came across as the CEO we’d all like to report to. Open, bright, matey, caring and he will remember your name for sure. I did like that, without any contrivance, he name-dropped Shelvey and Konchesky, and he hadn’t just flicked through the Valiant 500, he really appeared to understand some of our history. He talked also of Steve, and Lee and Rav and Nathan and Jason and importantly highlighted the incredible work of Steve Avory.
He was born is South London, but spent most of his adult life in Manchester and went to University in the city after playing in Blackburn Rovers academy. Evidently connected following his years as an agent, Southall is refreshingly a football man, a fan.
The interview was obviously planned, but not contrived, and if anything I thought Matt came across as nervous, but he hit all the right notes. Custodians, rebuilding supporter relations, the academy, unlocking potential and sensible growth. I did think he was keen to squash the wealth of the backer(s), and said that clubs are already adding two zeros to values of players. No Ronaldo’s and Messi’s clearly but funds available, but these are businessmen and Southall’s primary job will to be to run a sustainable business.
Southall will unquestionably be the front man, and he made me laugh when he said that His Excellency gets a little over-excited. His Instagram page is one of a millennial with a new iPhone 11 and a trust fund and not that of an executive who runs 60 global companies, nonetheless his gaiety is quite infectious though, and we should see Tahnoon Nimer at The Valley soon.
If Southall is front man, and Tahnoon the money, then Jonathan Heller judging by his CV is the brains. In his 60’s Heller has held an impressive range of positions within the nuclear industry, commodities businesses, investment houses and asset management platforms. Sounds a very bright man.
It was ESI’s desire to be in charge at the start of January that meant that not all assets have yet been acquired. Rich Cawley broke the news this morning that Sparrows Lane is currently not under ESI’s control, but later said there is a contractual agreement to buy it in the summer and that the new owners have committed £15m to develop it. A Category 1 academy is obviously a goal.
No mention of meeting fan groups yet, specifically CAST, but the bloke has obviously been busy and as we saw has a young family. I would like to see that happen at some point soon.
The only real negative amongst fans afterwards was the fact that ESI will wait until after the transfer window before they negotiate with Bowyer and his team on new contracts. Both sides hold cards, but accept I would think that these next three weeks are crucial as a first building block of the new era. Of course I’d like to have seen Bowyer rolled out in front of a camera with a fat contract and a quill pen, but guess we’ll wait. Hopefully nothing to be worried about.
A nice start. No crack pot ideas, or double meanings. Just simply a new beginning and an understanding of what we are about. Southall can certainly rock a turtle neck too.