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Club News

Club Statement

17 September 2013

Vale Statement

Valiants, 

There are several issues which warrant this announcement and I apologise in advance for the length of it. When I took over, I had hoped that most of the media attention was about what was happening on the pitch – for whatever reason that has not happened. Yet, let it not be forgotten, we are in our best position for over five years yet all I seem to hear is doom and gloom!

So let’s look at recent events: The incidents relating to the Bradford game are now well documented regarding the racist chants. The Club does not condone such actions by a mindless few and, in order to assist our responsible fan base, we will make more visible signage with a telephone number for you to text or call to report any such racist or antisocial behaviour in the future.

It’s not an ideal situation but at least enables us to possibly identify those fans, who have let this fantastic club down.

Following on from the Oldham game, the antics of a mindless few could again have resulted in some of our fans being injured due to the launching of a smoke bomb in the Vale fan's area.

We are trying to build a family focused, community football club yet a small minority seem to be on a self-destruct mission to undermine all the good things we are trying to achieve. Why is this?

The incidents of disorder before and after our game against Wolves on Saturday August 31 have been well documented.  

It is right that we now let the police do their job in ensuring that those suspected of criminal activity are put through the criminal justice system and subsequently for the courts to decide on appropriate sanctions upon any convictions. We fully support the police and the courts in this process and when it is complete, we the Club will look at the actions of those involved and decide whether or not the Club should impose its own sanctions.  Each case will be treated individually on its merits.

It has been widely reported that innocent parties may have been caught up in the police operation with some people receiving what appear to be quite serious injuries. Clearly in this regard I would encourage these individuals to report these incidents to the police or the club. 

Alternatively, you can complain to any force using the online form on The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) website, www.ipcc.gov.uk/complaints; The telephone number is 0300 020 0096. Or, if you feel this approach to be too formal and you require legal advice or support in your complaint or just wish to provide general observations I recommend you contact the Football Supporters Federation.

Having been in discussion with Amanda Jacks, Director of Case Work for the FSF you may wish to contact her directly at amanda.jacks@fsf.org.uk or by telephone on 07703 519555.

Now, let’s turn to the issue of financial fair play. At the time of signing Carl Dickinson, the Club was contacted by the Football League and advised that we had reached the limit on player costs, based on the Club's turnover and expenditure forecast which was submitted some months earlier, by the then Finance Director. In simple terms, the Club is restricted to spending 60% of its turnover on its player costs.  

This is a Football League regulation with the logic behind it being to bring more financial accountability into the running of football clubs and to ultimately create a more level playing field.

This is not a reflection on Port Vale’s finances it is a reflection on the Football League's governing of financial fair play. The framework is flexible, in that if your turnover increases beyond your initial submissions, then the opportunity to review and in turn increase your player’s budget exists.  

On recently tuning into the Praise and Grumble show on BBC Radio Stoke, I listened to a fan referring to me going around with a 'begging bowl’, which infuriated me and prompted me to phone into the radio show. For those of you who were listening I am sure you sensed the annoyance in my tone of voice. So I will reiterate what I said, which is this: any additional funds that come into the club, over and beyond our budget forecast will enable Micky to spend more on players. It’s that simple.

I now wish to turn to communications to and from the Club.  Having taken on quite a lot of initiatives since the close of the season, on reflection maybe I was being too optimistic in how much change we as a Club, its fans and our staff could accommodate. One of the areas where we are clearly failing is communications to the fans and in turn how we deal with enquiries coming into the Club. It didn’t help that we had technical problems with the phone system which have now hopefully been resolved

I apologise if there have been times when requests or complaints have been made and not responded to as we have clearly let you down in this regard. I am looking to overhaul all communication channels and provide a consistent level of service and reasonable response time.

For my part I believe I have been approachable. How many other Chairmen in this division can be contacted directly on twitter or via the club’s website? I am always happy to have a dialogue with supporters.

We have a great staff base at this club, and whilst there are still some additions to the back room team to be made, we are improving how we deal with things. Customer service, whether on a matchday or if you book an event here, is paramount to our business success. If you have any complaint at all, let us know. Simply give us a call.

With regards to the story in the Sentinel about our ex-players, Port Vale has several hundred ex-players who have pulled on the shirt to represent our Club. Any such player is part of the heritage of the Port Vale and in turn has my highest regard and respect for their past contribution. All members of this unique club have had, and will continue to enjoy the privilege, on request of a match ticket without fee or favour.  

The Club's stance on former players has not changed and I can confirm that ANY ex-player can continue to contact Mr Bill Lodey on telephone number 01782 655814 or email secretary@port-vale.co.uk to request a ticket for any future home game. I trust that this puts the record straight.

I also announced recently that we are opening a Vale shop and Ticket Office in the Potteries Shopping Centre. The management of the Potteries Shopping Centre have been very supportive in allowing us to do this without too much financial risk.

This is for a trial period of six month after which, we will decide if it is viable. Please make it happen by showing your support.

Finally, if you are not already aware, we are welcoming Coventry City to the Vale on Saturday who are the team of my home city. Coventry is facing their own challenges, but I have to say, are playing exceptionally well in view of the adversities they are facing. 

Let’s pack the Vale and remind our visitors what a community club is all about. It is a big day for me as many of my family and friends are Coventry City fans – the city of my birth – but I am Vale through and through and hopefully we can secure all three points.

Your Chairman 

Norman Smurthwaite

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