Our Chief Executive Officer has spoken with the media today on a number of topics, which we've outlined in brief below!
ON THE REDS' CURRENT POSITION
“It is unexpected and not what I personally would have predicted to happen. I knew there would be a step forward, but this has been a big leap and even though that’s the case, now we are here it doesn’t feel like it’s not deserved. It feels right. We should be where we are.
“It’s not a fluke. If you watch our games, if you see the performances, if you see the work that is put in on a day to day basis, consistently, it is very much deserved.
“We are thrilled and enthused to be in this position but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
ON COVID-19 AND THE LAST YEAR
“It’s something that we can all take away from this strange, COVID-time, that whether you’re a fan, a player, a staff member, this last 12 months as a club we have been able - together - to provide a release and a sense of joy that is - in a way - priceless.
“You cannot quantify what this year has provided for everyone. Not just those of us here at Oakwell, but to our supporter group and everyone connected to this club. Everyone has had a shift in terms of what they can achieve, what they’re meaning is and what life is about, because of what we’ve all gone through with this pandemic.
“It’s something I will always remember, and something you can never walk away from. It’s been great.”
ON STADIUM PLANS
“The Premier League’s auditors have been around Oakwell in the last couple of weeks, just surveying and seeing what would need to be done, in terms of our ground externally and internally to meet the requirements of being in the Premier League.
“We have plans in preparation, moving forward, but we are trying to avoid that P word because internally as people we are all focused only on the next game. But of course, there are plans put in place should it be necessary.
“There are all sorts of things that would need to happen and they are very strict on you getting it done. There isn’t an exact timeline on some of the things, but it would be a major overhaul. Oakwell - as we all know - is an older stadium. And the last time we were a Premier League club, there wasn’t as many boxes that needed to be ticked.
“But the amount of infrastructure that would need to be added is pretty large. But as much as we all want to get there, there’s a bit left to go and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
“I don’t personally have an update on the ownership, because that’s above my head.
“But I don’t believe anything would have any impact on Oakwell and those improvements or upgrades should they be required.
“Talks between the club and the town have been positive and we’ve looked at ways to improve things, regardless of the division we’ll be in moving forward.
“There are a few things around the ground; not only the structures themselves but the playing surfaces, offices that we’ve got estimates on. There are a number of things we’ve had assessed and surveyed, but nothing has been definitively put into place at this point.”
ON FINANCIAL CHALLENGES
“Our accounts will be published shortly, and whilst it won’t show the full impact of the pandemic and the lost revenue, it will show that as a club we’ve done a lot to maintain our self-sustainability.
“And a lot of this is testament to our Financial Director at the club, Robert Zuk who has done an incredible job alongside our tremendous front office staff, to keep a steady ship and for everyone to be on the same page throughout these tough times.
“We are now at a point where we can see sun on the horizon, if you like.
“But the accounts will be released soon and there won’t be any surprises I don’t feel. They’ll show the standard ebb and flow of the last few years for this club, where once again with the efforts of all involved and the outstanding help of our fanbase, we’re able to survive and prosper as a club no matter the circumstances.
“The financial challenges haven’t stopped, and won’t stop for some time. But again, as a club, Barnsley was able to put itself in a place where we were better off than most of our competitors.
“We’re still not in the clear yet, obviously, but we took steps and decisions were made that allowed the club to continue to function in the way that it has. In fact, it’s been able to grow and flourish in a time that’s let’s be honest, growth has been difficult to find.”
ON FANS RETURNING TO OAKWELL
“We’ve always planned and prepared for that eventuality and were it to come up, we feel we’d be ready to go. And now, with the shift in dates, I think anyone can work out why they’ve picked the 17th and the 22nd of May.
“But as of right now, we haven’t heard anything from up above or had any decision passed onto us in terms of fans being allowed to return for the playoffs.
“We are hoping - regardless of whether we are in the playoffs - that fans will be allowed back in stadiums as soon as possible, because it’s the best thing that can happen for us as a sport.
“We’ll be ready for their return, we are just waiting for the green light.”
“I think Barnsley as a club is a little bit different, somewhat unique in our approach to recruitment and so we put forth a plan A and a plan B of what our squad would look like depending on the end game, and then look at where we need to improve in certain areas in terms of matching our philosophy and the way we want to play.
“And we’re doing that. But we haven’t yet set out a budget in either respect because we know our restraints.
“Will those goalposts move if we are in the division above, of course in terms of finance but regardless of that we are still able - because of our approach - to plan ahead anyway because of how we want to play and the model of the players we can attract and go after.
“We’ve got structures in place in many different areas now, across all continents so we have started to dip our toes into the North American, Central American, South American, African and Asian markets. With the new rules in place, it’s given us a little more scope and so we can slide our data sets and our recruitment lists into those areas, widen our nets a little in those markets.
“Now, it’s still difficult because to get the points needed to get a work permit in the UK they would basically need to be an international player or a youth international. But those are markets we are looking at and I think they will definitely help us in the future to really grow us as a club.
“I think it’s going to be harder for us to recruit in continental Europe.
“We’ve done a really good job in the last couple of seasons to get some young, hungry and talented guys to Barnsley from some of the smaller first divisions and the second divisions of bigger nations over there.
“Now, a lot of those guys we’ve pursued and were able to bring on board would probably not be here under the current climate and the restrictions now put on immigration.
“So whilst our net that we cast has got bigger in terms of globally, it’s also narrowed somewhat in the other markets so it’s tricky, but thankfully we are on our toes and we feel confident that we’re in a position to keep the club ahead of the curve.”
ON CURRENT SQUAD AND CONTRACTS
“There a number of players we are talking to. A couple we’ve engaged very recently. Because as we’ve said numerous times, that core group is important to us. We’ve got a number who’ve had tremendous seasons and are getting a lot of attention, so we have to look at what the squad is going to look like at the end of the season and make sure everyone is on board and feeling valued.
“We want these players to grow with us, as we push forward as a club.
“I said last year that it would have been criminal if the core group who’d stayed up in the last seconds on the last day weren’t able to be kept together so we could see what they could do this time around. And we managed to achieve that, minus Jacob Brown who was a huge player for us last year but I think you can see that we are reaping the rewards now for keeping that group together.
“As a club, our model is one of remaining self-sustainable and so we accept we can’t keep every player all of the time. But this group, with more time, more camaraderie, more chemistry has shown what they can do, and so I think that shows that we again need to do our very best at the end of this season to try and keep the core together.
“We obviously want Alex Mowatt to be here with us long-term. We’ve made him numerous offers and we remain in dialogue with him and his advisor. But we’ve put it to one side right now, and rightly so. It’s something we’ll address at the end of the season.
“But we have always been honest when saying we want him here, as our captain and our leader in the midfield. We’ll have to see what comes of that at the end of the season.”
ON RUMOURED INTEREST IN VALÉRIEN ISMAËL
“There is of course going to be interest in Valérien because of the unbelievable job that he’s doing, but he has given us no hint or impression that he wants to be anywhere else but in Barnsley.
“We have him on a multiple year contract, he’s at the front of our ship and we want to keep him here for as long as we possibly can.
“I think he really believes in this project here, and we value him so highly. He has been a real breath of fresh air since he arrived and has helped us enormously in making the strides forward that we’ve managed over the last six months.”
ON DARYL DIKE
“The Dike transfer figure is an organism. It just grows on its own, with more oxygen every week. It’s fun to watch from afar when you actually know what it is, and you see people talking about it and the things that are being reported.
“We have a price for Daryl that we set with Orlando at the beginning of the deal. We have first rights on him, if we want to exercise that option at the end of the season. It’s achievable for Barnsley but we just need to see where we are at the end of the campaign.
“But of course, Daryl’s form has been so good since he arrived, that yes, there are enormous suitors looking at him. The focus for us is the next five games. But we would have to see at the end of the season where we are financially. It’s not necessarily about the division. But I think his performances have put him in a position where there are teams already in that division who are now interested.
“He’s a 20-year-old kid, he has the world in front of him and he’s as big a part of the decision also. So let’s just see where we all are at the end of the year.”
ON SEASON TICKET SALES
“We have had an unbelievable amount of backing and support since we launched our season tickets. Just yesterday, we passed the 5,000 mark and for our club, our community living through this difficult time together, to be able to receive that kind of support is awe-inspiring.
“I still, every time we ask our fans to come out and support their club, to support the badge, they do it unflinchingly and I have a hard time putting it into words just how much that inspires me.
“So they’re out there, they’re on sale, it’s the back-end of the early bird period and we’re ahead of where we’ve been in the past and that’s really a testament to our fanbase and the Barnsley community as a whole.”
ON THE PROMOTION DREAM
“It is the dream. Whether you’re on the bottom rung of the ladder, or you’re in touching distance of it.
“But we are still keeping our feet on the ground. Every one of us here is focused only on the next game in front of us. Just as Valérien says himself, it really is one by one.
“We do believe though, that we can win any game when we step onto the pitch.
“It’s that kind of belief that we’ll need to maintain if we want to achieve the dream.”