The Reds' CEO spoke with numerous media outlets over the last week and we've collated the key topics following the end of the 2019/20 campaign.
ON THE DEPARTURES OF COACHING STAFF
We’ve released Max Senft from his contract. He’s returned to Austria for family reasons and we understood this was important to him. He’s going back to a small club that’s in Vienna, in what is the fourth division over there and so he’s around his family.
We were never going to stand in his way, and he has the full support of Gerhard also.
It’s a similar situation with Matt Rose. He has a young family in London, and he was trekking back and forth between here and there and during the Pandemic it became clear that again, for family reasons, he wanted to stay down there and so he’s moved on as well.
As a Club, we want to thank both men for their hard work and effort put into this season, they played a big part in what we achieved and we wish them both well in their future endeavours.
Gerhard was sad to see them go, but understands that’s football. He himself is back home with his family in Austria at the moment and we’re talking about adding to his staff ready for the new season. But he and Adam Murray have grown really close, along with Kevin Pilkington and we’re working together on bringing someone else in to work with Gerhard.
ON THE BRENTFORD GAME
I know it’s a cliche, but the feelings were indescribable. I’ve been in sports my whole life, in and around it, playing the game and then being on this other side of it. And I’ve never had an experience in sports like that before.
It changes your chemistry, your perspective. Not just in terms of football, but on life and what can be achieved or accomplished.
It was an amazing evening, one that I’ll never forget.
ON THE BELIEF WITHIN THE CLUB
It’s a fools narrative, but I had a Catholic upbringing. And that is that you never say never. So until the final whistle, if there is a glimmer of hope, you believe.
So I truly did believe.
But it wasn’t just me. Everyone around me, from the guys in the front office, to the coaching staff, the whole squad of players. Every week, after every game, even after Leeds we were saying ‘we still have a chance’ and I think that attitude served us well.
Don’t get me wrong, after some of those games the players and staff were disappointed. You could see it in the faces, in their demeanour. But no-one gave up hope.
I think that’s the beauty of this sport in this country. That until the very last second, until the dying moment, you’re always alive.
What happened at Griffin Park is the perfect example of that.
ON RETAINING CHAMPIONSHIP STATUS
We’ve done everything that is asked of us in terms of being a Championship club. We are planning for another season as a Championship club.
Whilst we are heavily impacted by the decision of the upcoming appeal for Wigan and their points deduction for going into administration, we believe we stayed up last week and we are preparing to compete in this division next season.
But as I said in our recent Club Statement, we will fight by all means necessary for our supporters, for our staff and for our Club.
ON THE FINANCIAL SITUATION
Last time we were relegated from the Championship it cost the Club between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000. And so coupled with the financial hardship thrust upon us by the Pandemic, these have been really testing times.
We’re not out of the water yet. July was our trickiest month.
We can’t state it enough, just how massive the support has been from our fanbase. No-one saw this coming, and none of us know truly where it’s going. We all hope for the best but this Pandemic is unseen for all of us.
So for our fans to back the Club in the manner they have, it just adds to your will to fight for them. We’re at around 7,500 season ticket sales right now, which is amazing faith from our community.
Staying up completely changes our perspective as a Club.
As a group, as a supporter base, as staff inside the Club, it has a monumental effect on how we move forward. Not only in terms of logistical things such as finance and sponsorship, but the mentality of the Club.
For months now we’ve shown great pride, perseverance and a fight to survive and it’s so evident around the place, that there’s a real belief and excitement about us going forward.
ON GERHARD STRUBER
Gerhard is our leader. He’s on a multi-year contract. He wants to come back and work with this group. And we can’t wait to have him back.
Of course, for what he’s achieved, he’s going to garner a tonne of interest. But he’s our Head Coach and we expect that to be the case going forward.
This is a guy who came to the club in November, to a new country that wasn’t his first language, a league that he’d never worked in, with staff and players he didn’t know.
So for him to do what he’s done, during the Pandemic as well, without his family - he has two young children - then he deserves enormous respect.
He’s back home now, and off the high of Brentford and us staying up, he deserves that time with his loved ones and that period of reflection.
But we have no doubt that he’s coming back and we look forward to this relationship developing further.
ON PLAYER RETENTION
We want to keep our group together.
Again, this group have shown that when they’re all together and fighting for the same cause, they can take on any team in this league.
They’ve grown as a team over the last year, and they look like a good Championship side. So if we can keep this group together, we think that next year we could really compete, and not be fighting relegation again.
Who knows what will happen over this next few weeks, but we want to keep this squad together. We’re in dialogue with a few of our players about extensions, but most of them are already under longer-term contracts.
In terms of Alex Mowatt, we triggered the option so he’s here for another year, but everyone at the Club knows how much we value Alex and we want him here for the long haul. We just need to come to an agreement on both sides and hopefully he sees that this is still the best place for him to continue his career.
The fact that we’re a Championship team means my phone has been busy since last week. Everyone wants to be our friend again. And there have been some interesting discussions, but at this point there isn’t anything pending.
But as a Championship club there are areas we will be looking at in terms of strengthening.
We would like to add some depth and we’ll certainly look to do that.
ON SUPPORTERS RETURNING TO STADIA
We are following government guidance, and until we have something outlined by them about fans returning to Oakwell, it’s something we can’t really comment upon. But of course, we are preparing for every eventuality and we want fans back here as soon as that is possible.
It’s a real shame that we did the impressive escape without our supporters alongside us in the stadiums. And we can’t wait for the day that everyone is back at Oakwell, and the Ponty End is rocking once again.
As soon as we know more on that, we’ll inform our fanbase immediately and get the protocols in place so that it’s a safe and healthy environment for them to visit again.
ON BAMBO DIABY
I can’t provide too much detail but I will say that one of the marker dates was hit last week in terms of the final paperwork being put forward ahead of a decision being made, which is all I can say at the moment, but it does look like we’re finally getting to a point where we are getting close to some kind of conclusion.
And as a Club we are still fully supportive of Bambo and looking forward to having him back with us as soon as possible.
ON THE ACADEMY
It was a difficult time these last three months and so we’ve had to take a look at everything. We’ve had some restructuring in our Academy, but we are managing this period and the Academy at Barnsley FC will be here for the long haul.
We believe the benefits of the Academy are untold. You only need look at the amount of guys who were involved in the first team at the back end of this season, who’ve been part of the Academy system.
So we’ve manoeuvred ourselves to maintain what we have here, which many other clubs weren’t able to do in this period. And that’s testament to our staff, to our tremendous workforce here at the Club.
ON TAKING A BREAK
I won’t be going back to the States I don’t think. It’s chaos over there, very different to what we have over here.
Myself and Melissa, my partner, we went back earlier in the year for family reasons. That was a tough time from a personal perspective.
But it’s been a terrible time for lots of families, the whole situation with the virus has been really tough on everyone. I feel emotionally drained, and ideally we’d get away somewhere for a break, but it’s going to be such a sharp turnaround that it’s unlikely at the moment.