(PART 1) PETER FREUND ON...
Prior to Monday’s dramatic victory Co-owner Peter Freund took the time to be interviewed by me. I have split the interview into two parts due to the length and in Part One we cover:
- Where Peter wants to see the club go
- How to boost home support
- Improvements to the ground
- The recruitment strategy and local talent
- A word on Memphis and Tim Howard
- Thoughts on Salford - any parallels?
What was the recruitment strategy this year, obviously you signed a lot of young players?
The strategy was to bring in as much talent as we could and to bring in young players that we could develop and we wanted to sign Manny - that was really important. We were obviously disappointed to lose Conor Wilkinson but we had no choice as he had a buyout clause in his contract; so we will see how the season goes up front. I feel like we still need a big centre forward to go score goals but it is what it is.
Where do you see the club in 5 years time?
Ah, 5 years! Well we would like to be in the football league and it wasn’t that long ago the team were in League One. I think given the size of the club and given the ground that we have - we are the smallest club in London. Right! So I reckon if we have solid footing in the football league: that is probably the main goal. However, that would have to be in League One because there is always the danger of being relegated out of the football league when you’re in League Two. So, overall it would be great if we had two promotions in five years but I’ll take one.
As you are aware Salford have had a strong backing and heavy investment and they aim to get to the Championship as soon as possible - with them getting promoted last year do you share them ambitions?
Well - anything is possible! But they’ve been promoted three years in a row now and that’s amazing especially as they now have David Beckham on board. But we’ve got Tim Howard, that’s not bad is it? Our aspirations are - we will go as far as we can but honestly the Championship budgets are tricky and hard to sustain. So personally my aspirations aren’t as high as the Championship but well we’ll see.
What style of football do Memphis play, is it a style you want Dagenham to adopt?
Memphis is a frustration for me, they are playing terribly and some days I look at the USL Championship ( second tier of American soccer) and thinks it’s nearly on par with the National League but now I’d bet on The Daggers defeating Memphis. I hope I don’t get my coach upset if he sees that quote!
Are there any more plans to improve the stadium small, like the scoreboard or big, like more seating?
Yeah, we are going to try, so we are going to try and look at the areas of the ground we get the most complaints about like wash rooms and food stands for example. As we go, and it’s a process, we are going to continue to put money into the club because we believe it is really important.
Once Tim Howard has retired will he be more involved - possibly a sporting director?
Yes, so he actually wanted to come over with us for Bank Holiday weekend but he couldn’t because he is stuck... in goal for Colorado! Once he finishes, this is his last season, he will be more involved and he is coming over in November. In terms of the sporting director role, he is very close with Peter Taylor but not the sporting director of Dagenham & Redbridge or Memphis 901 FC. But, he has obviously got a very keen eye and very knowledgeable of the game - he is really a great advisor for Peter and they talk.
Is local talent something you would look into as there are a lot of great players in the area - Liam Gordon is evidence of that?
Yes, I think he is very good and he is an amazing shape too. One thing we do talk about when we recruit is that a lot of players like to play near where they grew up. You end up giving bigger offers to players who live further away; in fact one is at Yeovil and he said ‘I want to play for Yeovil because I grew up near there’. So it is important to have players that grew up round here playing for Dagenham.
I have seen the offer for the Bromley game and think that’s great but how are you going to go about boosting the attendance?
That’s a good question. The easiest way is to get back to the football league, and get promotion - then I think the fans will come. But the reality is we need to do a much better job with the community at getting into schools. Also, one idea we have is engaging West Ham supporters; for example a lot of National League clubs have been doing discounted offers. So if you have a season ticket at West Ham and they are playing away you can come to Dagenham and get discounted tickets.
The first thing we wanted to do is clean the ground up, so we’ve replaced the seating; got a new video scoreboard and a new club shop. We are trying to get this to a place where everyone can be really proud of and then introduce it to a lot of people.
We’ve just hired a Commercial Manager who is from West Ham so we are going to really try to pitch the ground to a wider variety of people.
Thanks for reading, Look out for Part Two,Keane COYD 💙❤️⚔️