The final Fans Forum of the season took place at Upton
Park earlier this week, as another group of Hammers supporters were
given their opportunity to fire questions at Managing Director Paul
Aldridge and Financial Director Nick Igoe.
Around 25 fans attended the latest forum held at 7.00pm on Monday night. It is an event that has grown in popularity since it was first devised back in November 2004, and will continue to be held next season.
Not surprisingly, the burning issue of the evening centred around the Club's transfer plans for this summer and, following media speculation this week linking several of our first team stars with moves away from Upton Park, Paul was quick to rubbish the rumours, insisting that any major transfer movement in the close season will involve buying, not selling.
He said: "We are certainly under no pressure to sell anyone this summer and, indeed, have had no contact from any other clubs regarding our first team players.
"With a UEFA Cup campaign to look forward to next season, we are keen to build and strengthen the playing squad - not dismantle it - and so substantial funds have been made available for the manager.
"Alan has already identified a number of potential transfer targets for this summer and we are currently in the process of preparing bids for those players. As always, once there is any completed transfer news to confirm, we will announce it first on the official website."
Nick was on hand to answer questions relating to the Club's finances, including the current level of debt, revenue generated from our FA Cup campaign and ninth-place Premiership finish, and how much the new Sky TV agreement will be worth to the Club should we retain our top flight status going into the 2007-08 season.
Looking forward to next season, Paul also disclosed plans of the renovation work that is to be carried out at the Club's Chadwell Heath training headquarters during the summer.
He revealed: "We have already begun the process of installing undersoil heating in the main pitch at Chadwell Heath. We've been lucky with the last couple of winters but if there were to be a real bad frost then we would face the possibility of the players not being able to train outside for a period of time, so we have taken this step to avoid such a problem.
"We are also re-carpeting the artificial pitch at the training ground and adding a viewing area to the indoor sports hall, allowing parents to watch their youngsters train in the Academy on week nights.
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"For the benefit of the players, we are also installing brand new hi-tech cooling tanks, both at Chadwell Heath and Upton Park, which they will use for injury prevention and recovery after training and matches. It's a method that we believe will provide a noticeable impact.
"At the stadium, we are also purchasing high-quality mobile lamps, which will be placed on the pitch in the shaded areas beneath the Dr Martens and Bobby Moore stands, enabling the grass to grow evenly with the rest of the surface that is subjected to direct sunlight.
"And as some of our supporters already know, we will also be installing two brand new LED screens and full electronic digi-board advertising around the perimeter of the stadium, a matter that has been explained in more detail by our Legal and Commercial Director Scott Duxbury on the official website this week."
A number of other subjects were covered during the course of the evening, including potential redevelopment of the East Stand, the ongoing negotiations for the TV rights to our UEFA Cup matches next season, and the ticket selling arrangements for the FA Cup final.
Season ticket information for the 2006-07 campaign was also discussed, with Nick explaining that season ticket holders have been promised a special offer of being able to purchase a ticket for our first home UEFA Cup match at the reduced rate of £10 for adults and £5 for concessions when they order their season ticket.
Paul also revealed that home reserve matches will definitely not take place at Dagenham & Redbridge next season, with a new venue yet to be decided, while discussions about a potential move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium at Straford after the 2012 London games are still some way off.
On the subject of pre-season friendlies, the Club have confirmed that the squad will play three games during their regular week-long trip to Sweden in July, while foreign opposition for our final pre-season friendly, at Upton Park on the weekend of August 12/13, has yet to be confirmed due to the fact that we could have been involved in the Charity Shield at that time.
It was almost 10.30pm by the time the forum finally concluded and, following refreshments in the Ironworks Bar, those attending hopefully left satisfied and content after another evening of discussion and lively debate at Upton Park!
The first fans forum of the new 2006-07 campaign is likely to take place in September, and details of how you can apply to attend will be announced here on whufc.com as soon as the date is confirmed.