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Walsall apologise for relocation upset

By Joseph Masi | Walsall FC | Published:

The travel section of the Walsall Football Supporters Club is set to move into the Banks’s Stadium, chief executive Stefan Gamble has confirmed.

Royston Randle, great niece Chantelle Walker and great, great nephew Sean Maitland

The body, which organises away travel for fans who wish to attend matches by coach, has been run for the past 40 years by popular supporter Royston Randle.

Since Walsall moved to the Banks’s Stadium, the organisation has been based next door at the Saddlers Club.

But back in April it was revealed the Saddlers Club is set to close with Mr Randle waiting to find out where the travel section would be based.

Mr Randle was dealt a huge shock during Walsall’s Checkatrade Trophy clash with Middlesbrough on Tuesday when he was told via steward he had just four days to pack up his office.

The news left the 70-year-old, who is in a wheelchair, visibly upset.

But upon hearing the news, chief executive Gamble moved to reassure Mr Randle he doesn’t have to depart his office in four days. He will also have a new office at the Banks’s Stadium.

“I have spoken to Royston Randle and apologised profusely on behalf of the club for any distress that may have been caused by the way in which this matter has been handled,” he said.

“With the closure of the Saddlers Club back in April there is a ongoing process which will see the club surrender the lease back to the football club, a condition of which will be vacant possession.

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“This means that the Walsall Football Supporters Club travel section will eventually have to vacate their premises situated within the Saddlers Club.

“However, it has always been our intention to relocate the travel section to one of the available spaces within the Banks’s Stadium to allow them to carry on seamlessly.

“Unfortunately, due to miscommunication at our end, they were prematurely asked to vacate the premises, without being informed of the alternative arrangements we have put in place to ensure minimum disruption.

“I therefore understand why this caused such great distress.

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“Moving forward, the travel section will be housed in the old programme shop situated in the University of Wolverhampton Stand at the Banks’s Stadium and they will only relocate to this area once it is ready to accommodate them and will not be asked to move before that time.

“The travel section has provided an unbelievable service to the football club and Supporters for over 40 years and as a club we are truly thankful for the dedication of all those involved, in particular Royston, without whom many supporters simply couldn’t get to away games.

“As a club, we are committed to providing them with a base from which to operate and offer our continuing support for the great work they do.”

Chantelle Walker, who is Mr Randle’s great niece, was with her uncle when he was told the news on Tuesday.

And she said he is now relieved the issue has been resolved.

“A steward told someone we know that my uncle had just days to leave his office and then past the message on to us,” she said.

“We don’t know why that happened or why the steward was involved.

“It came as a massive shock to my uncle, who had tears in his eyes.

“This is a man who has been diagnosed with cancer but I have never seen him so defeated.

“He lives for Walsall Football Club and loves that club.

“I am just glad that Stefan Gamble has rung my uncle and got it resolved, the issue was never with him.

“It never should have happened but they are now dealing with it in the right way. My uncle felt disregarded but now he is a lot better.

“This has restored his faith that they do respect him and appreciate what he does.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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