Chris Marsh: Walsall need to back Dean Keates
Dean Keates is doing everything he can to bring success to Walsall.
He’s set about implementing a new scouting network, although I still can't believe we’ve been operating without one.
And he’s also started the process of clearing out the deadwood and bringing in his own men.
He's determined to improve the club from top to bottom in order to bring success to supporters
But if he is going to achieve everything he wants to, he needs to be backed by Jeff Bonser and the board.
And as much as it pains me to say it, we need to start taking a leaf out of Shrewsbury’s book because I’m worried there is a new sheriff in town.
I’ve had a look over their latest set of accounts and they make for very interesting reading.
Between July 2016 and June 2017, they sold some high profile players as well as some land next to the ground to supermarket firm Lidl. They invested that in a new training facility which cost in the region of £1million.
But more interestingly the club revealed it has no debt and holds £1million cash in the bank. The directors also took no salary or dividend payments from the club – unlike those at Walsall.
Of the signings Paul Hurst has made as manager, nine have cost money.
But you can’t say the same about Walsall, even though, I feel, the clubs are more than comparable.
Andreas Markis aside, the Saddlers have relied heavily on free-transfers. Most of our signings have been players out of contract.
Yet we also sold Bescot Stadium to a supermarket giant. We also saw key players – such as Tom Bradshaw and Rico Henry – leave for big fees in recent years.
But the bottom line is Shrewsbury are now in the play-off final and could be about to win a place in the Championship.
That is what a bit of ambition can get you and that is what our board needs to start showing.
I don’t want to see Keates having to scrimp and save. I want the club to loosen the purse strings just a little bit and give him the tools to do the job.
I think in the past some fans have accepted the way the club is run because it has stayed afloat and posted a profit. There have been a lot of clubs who haven’t managed to keep their heads above board.
But what is the difference between Shrewsbury and Walsall? Nothing, if we’re being honest, we are the bigger club.
Yet it’s the Shropshire side who could be in the Championship next season and who are showing all the ambition.
That breaks my heart. I really hope our board back Keatsey this summer, if they do they won’t regret it.
Finally this week, I just want to pay my respects to former Albion and Walsall man Ken Hodgkisson who passed away recently aged 85.
When I was 13-years-old, Ken used to coach me every Thursday between 6pm and 7pm and Spring Road in West Bromwich.
It’s amazing how these things stick in your head.
And he was a lovely, lovely man. He was hard but fair.
Back then, when you turned 14, you could sign for a team as a schoolboy.
I had offers from Albion, Coventry and Walsall and I choose the Saddlers because I thought I would have a better chance of making a career there.
I think it was the right call; I was playing for the reserves at 15 and made my full debut at 17.
Ken helped me on that road. He was a great man and I’ll forever be grateful for the role he played in my career.
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