Wael Al-Qadi – First impressions
A gasheads first impressions of new club president, Wael Al-Qadi.
I along with a lot of Gasheads spent most of Friday refreshing Twitter around 1:30 and watching the press snippets as they became available. At the time I couldn’t quite believe it. Bristol Rovers, the club I support who had just announced a £1m loss for the last financial year was now owned by a billionaire family.
Now the news that the Jordanian Al-Qadi family have taken a 92% stake in the club has finally sunk in, I thought I would give my first impressions of Wael (“It’s like Gael as in Clichy, but with a ‘w’.”) and what he has said so far.
Wael studied in London (he supported Chealsea at the time) and speaks fluent English with hardly any accent. From his chat with Nick Day at halftime at the Morecambe game he has a wicked sense of humour to boot.
He is clearly passionate, that is clear from the way he talks about taking the club forward and he counts himself as a Gashead which is fantastic. That shows to me he understands how important the fans are to the club and hopefully that will translate to making sure the fans are heard and looked after.
Evolution not revolution
He has so far said all the right things for me. Saying that “there isn’t a skip of money” and talking of “teamwork” on and off the pitch are encouraging. The key phrase of “evolution not revolution” stands out to me as the way that the Al-Qadi want to take the way forward.
I would hate for the Al-Qadi’s to come in and splash the cash as Man City did when they were taken over. I would much rather see success come through hard work and toil than bought.
Wael has said that the Al-Qadi’s are in it for the long run and they haven’t thrown out any targets like “Premier league within 5 years” which is great from my point of view. Long term stability is something this club has needed for a long time and it looks like the Al-Qadi’s will provide that.
They have targeted improving the commercial side of how the club is run. To be fair to Colin Sexton this is something that seems to have improved since he joined the board. Hopefully with the new board in place this can be improved further.
One of the standout quotes for me from Friday was:
“We will look to improve the way we recruit players and we will work on the academy so that we will continue the tradition and commitment towards producing our own players.”
This was particularly apt when Tom Lockyer captained the side against Morecambe. Another commanding performance from him shows what our academy can produce.
I think its a good sign that Wael mentioned this in particular and is looking to produce more first team players (and maybe future captains) from the academy.
Of course one of the major announcements was that the new stadium will be built regardless of the result of the court case. The board have consistently said that the club needs to move away from the Mem in order to survive.
Now that the Al-Qadi’s have committed to building a new stadium that will hopefully secure the long term future of the club and give us a purpose built stadium.
I still have my doubts about a stadium at UWE, but I’m willing to be convinced!
Fan representation on the board
One of the announcements was that supporters club directors Ken Masters and Brian Seymour-Smith would be staying on the board.
This is one of the most encouraging announcements as it shows a commitment from the Al-Qadi’s to include the fans in decisions and listen to our concerns.
This last announcement has given me the most hope for the future that the Al-Qadi’s are here for the long run and have the best interests of the club at heart.