Yeovil Town Chief Executive Martyn Starnes spoke to BBC Bristol presenter Geoff Twentyman just before the home match against Coventry City on Saturday 18th August 2012.
GT: Good afternoon, Martyn. Thanks for finding some time for us. How are you feeling on the opening day?
MS: Excited. I think you said it all just then (in a radio preview) the opening day of the season is always full of expectation and optimism. With the squad that Gary has put together during the close season, we're very excited.
GT: It's been an interesting twelve months at Huish Park. What have you learned over the last year?
MS: Good question. We've learned that it is extremely difficult to compete in this division. We overachieve every season. We are going to have to redouble our efforts every year, to make sure that we can carry on doing that. We've got the spirit in the club and in the team that will help us achieve even more this season.
GT: It is incredible how you compete with other clubs, and you've done it for a long time now. The Sheffield clubs, for example, last year had many times what you get through the turnstiles. How do you manage to do that?
MS: Well, it's through a lot of hard work from some very loyal staff. Obviously the manager is instrumental in having to be very clever in bringing the right players in, that can compete at this level. But we've got a lot of continuity here off the field, which helps us keep all of our costs under control. We manage to put as much as we can into our football budget to help give Gary the chance to compete.
GT: You took a gamble when you brought Gary back, but retrospectively it was a shrewd move, wasn't it?
MS: Yes, I think that Terry (Skiverton) did a great job with the resources that he had. It's a very difficult job here, but Gary came in with some experience, and obviously his previous relationship with the club and the fans it gave us a lift and an impetus and we were able to use that to our advantage.
GT: What is Gary Johnson all about? Take us behind the scenes? How does he operate? Why is he such a successful manager?
MS: Well he is very charismatic. He's full of ideas. He is witty and he uses that wit, I think, to his advantage in terms of dealing with people, and dealing with the players. He's obviously a very good motivator.
GT: How are you going to get more people through the turnstiles?
MS: Well that's going to come down to a great extent, to the performances of the team. We sort of call the team our marketing department, and to a great extent that's true. As far as prices are concerned, we are as competitive as anybody else in this division, so it really does come down to the entertainment value, I think, that we're able to produce.
That's something that Gary has been very conscious of since he's come back to the club. In the pre-season and in the game against Colchester in midweek, we've highlighted the fact that we're going to be an attacking side, and there's probably going to be a lot of goals here at Huish Park this season. Hopefully a lot more in our favour than the oppositions.
GT: Absolutely. He's really overhauled the squad. Has he got any more leeway to bring more players in, or is that it now?
MS: I think the squad is what it is for the time being. We'll see how things go. It is a small squad, and so there is going to be a certain vulnerability to a series of injuries if they occur. I think we're very happy with the squad. We've got a great balance of flair, pace and strength, and provided we stay clear of any serious injuries, then I think we'll be okay for the time being.
GT: Going back to the attendance issue, I appreciate that if you win matches, score goals and entertain, then you should get more through. What would make you a reasonably happy Chief Executive in terms of the average attendance?
MS: Well, I'd love to see the average attendance get back up to around about the five thousand mark. I know it's been a lot higher here in the past, but we do have to take on board that the economic situation out there is very difficult and people have got less money to spend. It's not just hitting us. It's hitting other entertainment activities, as well as other football clubs of course. So in reality, can we get back to six (thousand)? Yes - maybe - but for the time being, I would love to see our gates get to an average of five (thousand) and above.
GT: And what's the latest on the development at Huish Park, and the area behind the away supporters, and where they congregate?
MS: Well, we're still very anxious to get a positive response from the Council. It's still in the planning application process, and we're not likely to hear any more until mid-September, and maybe even October. But it's absolutely vital that we get the support of the Council, because we need the investment in the facilities here that such a development would afford us.
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