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Club News


27 September 2022

Club News


27 September 2022

At the end of last week, in collaboration with the Barnsley FC Supporters Trust, we hosted a fan forum giving supporters the opportunity to hear from members of the board.

In attendance at local venue, Shambles Street Bar, were Barnsley FC Chairman, Neerav Parekh, Barnsley FC Director Julie Ann Quay as well as Chief Executive Officer, Khaled El-Ahmad. 

Our First Team Head Coach, Michael Duff decided to attend the gathering as a spectator, but did join the table towards the end of the night to explain his appointment and talk of the future ahead.

Jean Cryne, Barnsley FC Director was also in attendance in a watching brief.

The question and answer session went on for a number of hours, led by Ben Lockwood from the Barnsley FC Supporters Trust and below we've given a brief synopsis of the evening's discussed topics. 


“A lot of people think that it was due to the relegation but the process of changing the constitution of the board was in place a little before that. 

“It had been in place for at least six months before things could be confirmed due to the logistical process. These things do take time. 

“Ultimately, we weren’t happy with the way the Club was being run. Whether that be the playing side, or the community element of it. There was a lot that we felt could be improved. Without going into all of the details, I wasn’t happy with the way certain things were going and then other members of the board were on the same page so we did what we could to make change happen.

“There were board meetings where I disagreed with certain decisions but the way that the system works meant that I had only one vote so there was only so much that I could do. But now, with the new structure and all of us on the same page, we feel over the next couple of years that we can take the Club forward in the right direction.

“It’s not going to be quick, these things take time, but hopefully over the next couple of years you’ll see a much better run Club.”


“I think so far I’d give it a six out of 10. We inherited a real mess, you know. It’s hard to dig yourself out of a financial hole, but also a morale hole. It’s like with you guys, the fans, you weren’t feeling great about the Club. So it takes time to address everything. 

“But we appointed who we believe is a great manager in Michael Duff. We think he’s doing a great job and is building a real winning mentality around the Club and that’s what we want. None of us want to lose, we want to be successful. But we want players to come and want to be here, to want to play for Barnsley. 

“We aren’t too far into this process and it’s going to take time. But for now, all we ask of our supporters is to stay behind Michael and the players. I can take criticism, but the young kids on the pitch need your support.”


“We are in a bad position financially. There’s no way of getting away from that. Most of this information is public. We put in a million pounds in the summer. And as of yesterday, the board just made another capital call for £3,200,000, which we will put in as equity. 

“This is simply to tide us over until January. We inherited a Club that needs money purely to sustain it, never mind investing in players or the infrastructure. So we’ve made that call and the money will be used to see us through until January.

“To be completely fair, the first million pounds of capital raised, everyone invested. If someone doesn’t invest, they get diluted and their stake effectively lowers. I can’t speak for everyone else, regards this capital call and whether everyone will invest. But for those who do invest, their stake remains the same and those who don’t, their stake is diluted. 

“This is a season of stabilisation. We will see where this takes us. But regardless, we will keep going, year after year. The Club is in no danger of folding.

“I can guarantee you that any decisions, good or bad, are those made only by the current board. 

“In terms of the cash injection earlier in the summer, it was money that was needed at the time. It’s public record in Hong Kong so I can say it, but everyone contributed pro-rata. So no shares were diluted. Any money that goes into the Club is to keep it running, to keep it afloat at this time given our current financial situation.”


“It’s still tied up in legal issues so I can’t say much on it. All that I can say is to watch this space. Hopefully, there’ll be positive things on the horizon.”


“Things are positive, we’ve met with the council several times and we have an ongoing discussion about a potential extension to the lease here at Oakwell, so we are excited.”


“It was ****, is the simple answer. And I don’t think anyone could judge it any differently. Obviously, during the season I was criticised for saying that we’d stay in the league, whenever I was asked that question. But what would you expect from a CEO at the Club? As long as there was a mathematical possibility, I was going to be supportive of that. 

“We’ve done a thorough review of all departments, we’ve tried to review everything, from the injuries, the GPS data, tactical assessments, we went through the recruitment decisions, player contracts - all of this to try and make sure that the next big decision, like the manager for instance, it was the right one. 

“The main ingredient was the need to build a winning culture. And I think that leads onto the appointment of Michael Duff. I think there was around 30 to 40 candidates and quite quickly we knew who we wanted. And that’s also why it perhaps took a little time. 

“I don’t think we left a stone unturned, we reviewed everything in the hope that the mistakes of last season aren’t repeated.”


“We have a specific department that led on that, and Hex came to us through a third party, an intermediary. We did our due diligence, that we felt was good enough but obviously in retrospect it wasn’t as detailed as it should have been. But with an intermediary in between, who’ve worked with sponsors in the past, there was a certain assumption of trust. 

“We wanted to be innovative, we wondered if we should look at something interesting, like crypto. We were open to something that was essentially different. We went ahead with it and quite quickly, **** hit the fan. 

“We never knew of those individual people. The way that it was presented to us, we were getting HEX as a company, through the agency or third party. So when this came to light, that was news to all of us. And then we acted straight away.

“Our fans’ engagement regards this issue was very good, and, in my opinion, a strength of cooperation between Club and fans where - together - we put Barnsley FC above financial gains.”


“As Khaled has said, it was a mistake that we made and realised soon enough. But the team inside, from Khaled and the media team, everyone involved, that they don’t get enough credit for, as soon as we realised the mistake had been made, they literally worked 24 hours to get it rectified and worked with PR and legal teams to figure out how we could get out of it. 

“And I think within three or four days we had got out of that deal, apologised for it and made amends. I mean, mistakes will be made. But it’s how you react to it and I think Khaled and his team did a really good job in rectifying the mistake.”


“It was a really bad mistake. And it was quickly apparent on that first home game across social media. I think the fans really helped on this too. Because you really called it out. Because when this was set out to our commercial team it was a company called HEX, but when you start drilling into it, you realise it’s not. It’s just a coin, or a code even. 

“They 100% misrepresented themselves and with our crisis management and legal advice, we were able to get out of the deal pretty quickly. And then we rolled into the Together Red concept that Khaled came up with, I think that’s proven to be pretty successful until we get to a game and some fans are chanting at a physio from one of the visiting teams. 

“And again, we are in crisis PR, we are talking to the EFL and it’s just really unfortunate. And I wanted to bring that up because as a woman on the board, to hear fans singing ‘show us your ******’, that is so demeaning. 

“It’s just awful.”


“It’s been a really interesting few months, combining the issues mentioned with getting through the transfer window, and the board of directors have had to work together a lot. The board don’t meet like this and then disappear. 

“It’s really important for supporters to understand the board are putting money in, using all of our resources and network to get ourselves in a better place, and trying not to look backwards anymore. All we’re focused on is working with the incredible set of players and coaches we have here, and our fans, and just to get out of this mess. 

“And I think we’re baby stepping and getting up there. One thing I want to say is having Jean and James (Cryne) is just so helpful, the legacy of wisdom and knowledge and experience that we just lean in to. We have the same dreams and ambitions as you and we’ll do our best to right the ship.”


“We have a blank slate which is really, really exciting. One of the most important things about Barnsley FC the IP (intellectual property) of the Club. So the first thing we talked about today in our board meeting is how we bring that back in to our Club. 

“The vision commercially for our Club is to own our IP and control how it’s seen out there in the world. From a retail perspective, with Kid Super, we’re working on a new kit, and it’s interesting when we bring someone new on board to work with the brand; they love the incredible story and how it’s 135 years old. So we go back in to the history and how we celebrate that, and one of my goals is to bring back younger fans and a younger community. 

"There’s some really interesting ideas we’re developing, but the main vision is to bring back that IP, and use spaces in the stadium for signage, screens, and so many different pieces of content we develop that we can partner with people on. Buying and selling players shouldn’t be the main financial foundation of the Club. It needs to stand on its own commercially. That’s our aim as a board.”


“As part of the review of last season we’re now investing in a new EPOS (electronic point of sale) system to improve service times, new equipment to hold food warm or to cook quicker, we’re reorganising the catering and hospitality internally. A lot is going on behind-the-scenes, but it just takes time; we are reviewing how we speed up the service and what we offer. But what we haven’t had in the past is data, so we’re looking at how we can use your phone and an app to collect food items. But this takes time. We’re very confident we’re heading in the right direction.”


“Already this summer, the board and owners, outside of the cash injection, have been open and willing to invest in players. It’s important to remember that, when it’s easy to be critical of the situation. 

“We made a £300,000 bid for a striker this summer, and we knew it was money coming out of our pockets as the Club doesn’t have any at this point, so when it comes to January we will support Michael and make sure we drive for promotion. That being said, there are some serious financial constraints at the Club at the minute, so I’m not going to say we’ll spend crazy money but we will put the Club in a position where it can challenge.

“We might not need to anyway, as the players you see continue to keep developing and keep winning.”


“Don’t get me wrong. I love it. I think it’s really great. I love being able to talk to you all. Someone tweeted me today saying something was broken in the ladies bathroom, so we’re going to fix it, and that’s really helpful. What I get upset about is that I really want to win here. If it helps supporters by venting at me then I’m fine to be the bearer of that. But it’s important that we all have a winning mentality. 

“Look at how great we’re doing. We’re sixth. That’s good. So my synopsis of social media is I’m happy to be the one, as I enjoy talking to you, I really, really do, but when you’re down in the dumps I don’t want to be down in the dumps either as it’s my job to be positive and optimistic, and if I can do one thing during my time at Barnsley it’s to say ‘look, you have an amazing Club’. 

“As someone said to me in a quite aggressive manner recently, ‘you’re going to leave, you’re going to go, we’ll be here forever’, and you know what, that’s probably true as I’m not from Barnsley, this is your home, it’s your home Club and means so much to you. 

“If I can make one little contribution, it is to help you value what you have, rather than thinking about all the rubbish and the bad things. Think about the fact we’re still standing. Literally, if you knew the depth of what has gone on, we should not be standing. But we are standing. And we are thriving. That’s my synopsis of social media. Happy to be there. DM me.”


“It did take time. But the next move for me was always going to be an important move. There was lots of different reasons, a lot of moving parts. I had to make sure my family was right; there’s always a bigger picture. There’s a lot of things the supporters don’t see. They just see a manager and 11 players. But we have families, we have responsibilities. 

“The reason it took so long was because I needed to make sure. I met Khaled, I had three interviews. I drove up to Manchester. And I did speak to other clubs too. But for me, I was on the same side as supporters, on the outside looking in. So I’m looking at everything; a history of sacking managers, relegated last year - why? Well, I’m not going to find all that out in a day or two. 

“But ultimately, I make a decision and once I’ve done that, I’m all in. 

“I’m still learning. There are things done differently at this club compared to my last club. But that’s okay. I came in knowing that I was head coach. 

“All I’m here to do is to leave the club in a better place than which I found it. And I’ve done that at every club. That’s not me making big statements. I’m not saying we are doing this, that or the other. But what I can do is guarantee hard work, I can try and improve the players and I will look to build a winning culture. 

“I’ve had two clubs in 27 years so I think that’s better than fairly loyal! So as long as I think I can still improve, and that I have the support of the board and the supporters, I’ll be here giving the club everything. 

“I did that as a player. I wasn’t a very good player. But I gave everything.”

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