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In Conversation With Glyn Hopkin

Posted: Sat 04 Feb 2017

In the following interview, carried out by Ned Keating, Glyn gives his views about moving the Club forward together on and off the pitch and how he aims to achieve that

The name ‘Glyn Hopkin’ is recognised by most Dagenham & Redbridge supporters with his name having been emblazoned on advertising around the ground as well as the Stadium sponsorship carrying his name for a number of years. However, recently Full & Life Members overwhelmingly accepted a proposal by a consortium of existing Directors, with Glyn being the lead investor, to invest a total of £1.3 million into the Club. He will be bringing his considerable business expertise gained as a very successful local and regional motor trader to bear on the club.
 
Becoming involved in Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club
“I’ve been coming to Dagenham since 1994. Steve Thompson invited me down just after I opened my first showroom to dine in the hospitality lounge with a friend. The funny thing about that day I remember is that I wasn’t allowed in the boardroom because I wasn’t wearing a tie, but I’ve forgiven them for that.
 
“I was the first Stadium sponsor but that was done on the back of actually helping the club out after the club missed promotion in their first play-off final. After that I was keen to get some investment into the club so I actually offered the club some money to help them get promoted the next season. Steve Thompson offered to call the ground the Glyn Hopkin Stadium which was very nice.
 
“I was also a trustee around that time for two years during the early 2000’s, so I came to understand how the club works financially. I knew then that the club is very well run but can basically really only survive by selling a player or having a cup run to make the books balance.
 
“I think the current Board have done a terrific job over the years I’ve always said that, they’ve put their heart and soul into the club and they’ve done whatever they think is best for the club. Unfortunately, well run clubs get relegated that is one of things about football. I was very keen to work with people that have been at the Club a long time and know the ins and outs of how the club works.
 
The investment by the Consortium
“It was great to get basically a full support for the new consortium and we didn’t have one vote against at the meeting which is really good.”
 
“There’s not a huge amount of debt within the club. Eventually any debt that is there will be reduced down and then we are certainly not looking to take on any unnecessary debt in the future to add to that.
 
“I don’t think we are going to get a return on our investment but what will most certainly happen is that I’ll personally put some more money into the refurbishment when the season finishes. This will not come out of any budget for the Club or the player budget, so the improvement I will take care of myself. Over a course of time there could be other areas we will be looking to improve that I might have to put my own money in as well. I’m not looking to do loans because a lot of clubs have got into difficulty and I don’t think that’s right for the structure of the club. I’m in this for the long term, I want to take this as far forward as we can possibly go but I certainly want to do it in a financially responsible manner.”
 
“This Club is a good club and is very important that we keep all our links with the community, I’ve already met the leader of the council to cement that all the community work the Club does do will continue.”
 
Balancing the books and buying and selling players
“The number one priority is to get back into the Football League but my philosophy is that we improve every aspect of the club over time. I’ve known John Still for a few years and I’ve said right from the start that we are going to give him our full support. An the important aspect now is the Club no longer has to sell a player for financial reasons, I think that is important as in the past the club has had to so that the books balance. If we do choose to sell a player it’ll be the right decision for the club and the player but not because of financial reasons.
 
“One thing we do not want to do which is heavily part of John’s philosophy as a manager is stop a player from moving on. The whole Idea is that we attract the best youngsters in bring them on and then when the time is right for the club and the time is right for the player we won’t stand in their way if the right offer comes in. I will stress though that it is no longer a case of moving a player on because we have to. I have also said within reason if he comes to us with a player that he potentially wants to sign then we will look at it. The three names he gave to us we signed - Donnellan, Sheppard and Howells.
 
“One thing I’m not going to be doing is telling the manager who he should sign and who he should be playing; that’s the reason he’s at the club. Our Job is to support him with what he needs and we have made that abundantly clear to John if there is something he wants then we will look at it. I will go over the training ground every week, not to interfere but to sit down with John and his management team and they’ll tell me what they have been planning, what they are looking to do or any problems in which I will try my best to sort out. We have been in dialogue with John for months and John very much sees this as a project and very much wants to be part of that project. The team he has built is a project for him and he sees a future in that team, we are all very hopeful that we can go up this year if we do not go up this year we will be a very strong side next year.
 
The training ground and gym facilities
“We actually received a very generous donation from one of our supporters to improve the gym facilities at the training ground. The fitness coach was keen to get a proper programme for the players so they receive the proper supplements before and after the game, the programme is expensive but we have now put that in place so from now to the end of the season the players are on a proper supplement program. John has asked if there is any way of improving the training pitch, so now the current groundsman we have at the stadium is also helping out at the training facilities as well. So it’s mainly about looking at what we can do in every part of the club. ”
 
The youth set-up at the Club
“We’ve already discussed that we want to be bringing more youngsters through the ranks. We are looking at all the youngsters that maybe won’t quite make the grade at Premier League teams around us but are up to a very good standard; so we are looking at several different ways we can recruit that. We have got a very good coaching team running the academy so we’ve also got to have a look at how we can help them out as well. That is something I see as a very good investment for the future and we are going to be backing that 100%. We have just recruited somebody who will be going out looking at Cat 2 teams at 15 and 16 year olds and feeding them into our program. It’s about making certain we strengthen the academy apprenticeship system we have got but we won’t be going back to a Cat 3 with teams all the way down to under 9’s. Although that is not saying we would not look at some junior teams to be affiliated but that is the plan.”

Driving home the Club’s name and moving forward commercially
“Commercial manager Dave Hennessey has done really well over the last 6 months but he’s only here on a year’s work placement so we need a permanent solution. Steve Thompson has carried out the interviews and we have offered the position to someone; we are now waiting on them to come back to us and confirm a start date. This will be a full time experienced Commercial Manager, their role is to get some revenue into the club but also interact with the supporters as well and look at other ways that we can get people coming into the stadium increasing the supporter base.”
 
The manager
“John has done an absolutely unbelievable job over the years for this Club. It hasn’t been easy for him as he’s had to rebuild the squad since he has come back. We are in fourth position and there is real optimism around the club that we can hopefully go for promotion this season despite an awful amount of long term injuries and obviously people being affected with all of the takeover talks that have gone on. I 100% want John to stay, which will be something we will sit down and discuss with him.
 
The Supporters and trying to build up the fanbase
“Chairman, Paul Gwinn, and I had a meeting with the Supporters Club about a month ago at one of their Committee Meetings. We went through everything that they wanted to see or were unhappy with at the club.
 
“One way we are looking to get supporters in on a matchday is by upgrading the bar facilities at the club. Obviously the club has wanted to but for financial reasons they have had to concentrate on putting the money into the team. We have got some money set aside that doesn’t affect the player budget because the last thing I want is people saying we’ve spent money on the facilities rather than giving money to the team. I’ve explained to John that we will be improving the facilities but that it is from a separate pot of money. At the end of the season there will be work done, we are going to put air conditioning units and heating units into all the bars so it’s a more welcoming facility for the supporters when they come here on a matchday as well as people who want to use the facilities for events not on match days
 
“I want everybody to go forward together, I’ve been around the bars over the past couple of weeks and I’m more than happy to talk to any of the supporters, any of the members about their views; what they’re unhappy about and what they would like to see in the future. I can’t do everything suggested to me, but I will try and make as many people happy going forward as I possibly can.”