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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.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. On the face of it, all good but we shall see in due course and he did say that there will be times when supporters will not like what is going to happen. ??

    January 8, 2020
    • John – I am sure that will happen but then it’s about communication.

      January 8, 2020
  2. Jorgen #

    All good, as you would expect at this point – the part I liked best was what he said about the manner in which we saw Joe Aribo leaving. Allowing young, talented players go for nothing or next to nothing, because your too tight to offer a decent contract, just makes no sense. Even by Roland’s standards, that’s crazy.

    January 8, 2020
    • Jorgen – we’ve always sold young players. I was gutted when we sold Derek Hales, but it would be nice to get some value from the academy players when it’s finally time for them to move on. And that’s not just ££ but also the team and the fans get the benefit and they make 100 appearances not just a handful before they are cashed in RD style.

      Roland’s and Meire’s contract dealings and planning were shocking.

      January 8, 2020
  3. Gary Smith #

    What I read into the Lee comment about his contract was actually the other way to your suggestions that he was perhaps waiting to discuss a contract until after the window to see what the new owners will give him in the window. You wouldn’t want to sign a contract with a new owner only to find its a RD scenario MK2 He’s had to deal with RD in his tenure so you could see why he may be cautious in jumping in until he seen a bit of cash spent in the Window.

    January 8, 2020
  4. Shadow Play #

    My take on the contract situation with Lee and the management team was that there were/are other immediate priorities such as getting in players in (and maybe shifting one or two out?). This is a time consuming process after all as those players maybe wanted by other clubs and wages, fees etc have to be negotiated. Matt Southall also pointed out that things were “lean” after the Roland years – I can imagine there are a lot of jobs that need filling and that will take up a lot of his time, do we have a CFO for example?

    All in all a good PR exercise and a sensible by Matt S to do this, I liked his candour and he was careful not to make extravagant promises, we are likely to see evolution rather than revolution and I’m happy with that approach.

    We also have to appreciate that players will always move on – but we need to extract the best value from them first, look at the craziness that saw Ezri Konsa go to Brentford for £2.5m with no add-ons, they flipped him onto Aston Villa for a ca £10m profit after just one year, no wonder they tried to get Lyle Taylor from us, they saw Roland as a soft touch. A generation of players have been trained up and sold on mostly for under their market value. He’s quite right to put an end to that.

    January 8, 2020
  5. Agree 100%, but when the old bugger did remember a sell on clause he pocketed it anyway…. Lookman

    January 8, 2020
  6. Brian Cowan #

    In 2014 Richard Murray said: ” One of the key things that Roland’s financial stability will bring us is that if we’ve got a good player we will be able to hold on to him, and not be in a position that we have to sell our assets before they have realised their full potential playing for us or their full potential in the transfer market…”

    Poyet, Gomez, Pope, Konsa, Aribo…

    January 9, 2020
    • Richard Murray was already getting a little senile in 2014.

      January 9, 2020

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