At Rovers, most of the focus from our fans is of course on what happens on the pitch and how we can keep improving the playing side. However for me, excluding Graham of course, the three most important men at our club (who don’t always get as much credit as they deserve) are Wael Al-Qadi, Martyn Starnes and Tom Gorringe. These men work wonders off the pitch and without these three I feel we’d be nowhere near where we are.
The first man I want to look at is Martyn Starnes. It was good work from the club to bring him in to oversee the day to day running of the club instead of having someone who lives in London. Since coming in, he’s improved the quality of staff working here and has been responsible for all of the football operations. He’s stated before that one of the main points for him is for us to get financial stability. By becoming more financially stable, he believes that we could be in the championship “within five years”, which shows his ambition! He wants us to be successful and push on, but only once we have built training ground and stadium. I certainly believe he’s helped guide us in the right direction.
The next man, who has to be one of our best signings, arrived at the club not too long before our CEO. Yet he has made a real difference at the club - a certain Tom Gorringe. Our commercial director and also the man behind just about every good thing off the pitch! The changes and improvements around the club have been nothing short of incredible. When he first came in he stated that he wanted to help the club strive off of the pitch, and boy has he done that! The new bar in the ground finally gives Rovers fans somewhere proud to sit and drink on game days. On matchdays he’s brought in the electronic turnstiles and new food in the kiosk, which includes the new partnership with Ginsters Cornish Pasties. We can also finally see the score! The addition of the new scoreboard, and electronic advertising boards, have really helped improve the fans experience. This is topped off away from the pitch - we’re now one of the only clubs in the Football League who’ve made a commitment to eradicate plastic from matchdays along with making yearly donations to foodbanks while partnering the Southmead project. We’re lucky as a club to have someone as good as Tom.
The final man, who for me is the one we should be the most grateful for, is Wael Al-Qadi. The Jordanian businessman has, in my opinion, saved the club. Week on week he is writing off losses of 65k to help keep the club afloat while still giving us the money for transfers and upgrades to the ground. He’s a man who is always in the loop and works with Starnes closely. He’s stated that he wants us to be a settled top half League One club, but has ambitions of reaching the Championship. Our budget is at max SCMP and he’s desperately trying to improve the club off the pitch along with Starnes and Gorringe. The man I believe is a converted Gashead and wants to be with this club for a very long time, seeing us progress more every year. No matter how much he owns in the future, we do need him to have a continued affiliation with the club. I also like how he speaks like a fan himself.
When you look back over the last three to four years, you do have to wonder where this club would be without these men at the very top. Each has their own qualities and when put together they form a ‘golden triangle’ of a work force. With these men in charge long term, along with some added investment, I hope within six or seven years we could be sat as a top half championship club…