There was a good turn out at Spotland on Thursday evening for the Rochdale AFC Fans Forum in conjunction with the Supporters Trust.
Manager John Coleman, assistant boss Jimmy Bell, skipper Peter Cavanagh and assistant captain Andrew Tutte joined Chairman Chris Dunphy, Chief Executive Colin Garlick and Directors Andrew Kelly and Jim Marsh on the top table.
Most of the early questions centred around the team, new signings and thoughts on the season ahead. Coleman spoke openly about last season and admitted he was devastated by relegation. He is pleased with the squad he has assembled so far for the season ahead but didn’t rule out making more additions.
Coleman spoke positively about the season ahead and spoke of the importance of heart and passion in a squad, something he thinks his newly assembled squad has.
He also spoke highly of new skipper Peter Cavanagh and explained his decision behind choosing the summer signing as Captain, stating that he had a great attitude towards football and that he’ll do what is best for the club and the team.
The Gaffer and Jimmy Bell also believe that the club has a very good youth team set up and likened rising star Jamie Allan to a young Paul Scholes. He’ll train with the first team on a regular basis.
With the majority of first team and youth team players all on Twitter, the use of social networking was a hot topic. It was agreed by the top table that it was a useful tool if used appropriately.
The look ahead to the new season left the room in a positive mood, and questions soon moved on to the commercial side of the club.
Commercial manager Iain Johnstone stated that every match for the season ahead is already sponsored, while every advertising board around the ground has been taken. Sales of the new Fila replica kit are going well with over 370 sold so far.
Chairman Chris Dunphy said finances are the club were ‘fair’ compared with past history and said the club was in a stable condition financially.
Official coach travel was also brought up with one supporter asking if the club could provide a supporters coach for all away travel next season. Lotteries Manager Peter Woodhouse explained that the club endeavoured to send a coach to every away game, and sent one to 17 league games last season. Unfortunately due to the low demand on some coaches a decision was taken to cancel the coach as the club could not afford to lose vast amounts of money. Supporters were also urged to book early if they do wish to travel by coach so staff at the club can gauge demand.
Questions on the Think Tank were also raised and Dale Chief Executive Colin Garlick informed supporters that work had already been done to implement suggestions put forward (the fun day), work is still ongoing on ideas which have come from the Think Tank, while the club is continuing to look at other suggestions which have been put forward.
The club has of course recently launched a new website and supporters were keen to find out more about the problems they had been encountering when trying to access the site. It was explained that the club staff are well aware of the problems being encountered by supporters and were in communication with the FLi on a daily basis in order to find a solution.
Overall, it was a very positive forum with some good questions and very honest answers, as well as a lot of humour shown by the management team.