Glentoran owner welcomes 'clear the air' talks with disgruntled fans

Photo showing Ali Shams Pour
-Credit: (Image: Glens TV)

Glentoran owner Ali Shams Pour has welcomed 'clear the air' talks with the club's disgruntled fan base. Pour was in Belfast on Thursday to meet with representatives from the Glentoran Supporters Union to discuss the Oval club's continued failings on and off the pitch.

The Glens finished fifth in the Premiership last season, 30 points behind champions Larne. They also suffered the financial blow of missing out on Europe, and changed managers at the tail end of the campaign with Declan Devine replacing Warren Feeney in the hot-seat.

Five years into his ownership at the Oval, Pour has invested a reported £3m in Glentoran, but their only trophy to date is one Irish Cup success in 2020 under former manager Mick McDermott.

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Speaking ahead of Thursday's scheduled meeting, Pour told Belfast Live: "I am meeting with fans today. I am looking forward to it. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time.

"I mentioned to the guys a few times about meeting the supporters' clubs for a chat. We both have our reasons to meet, and I think a lot of things will be clarified today. It should be a good meeting.

"There is a lot of misinformation out there. And all these fans see is the men's first-team performances and that's how they are gauging the success of the whole club. But it shouldn't be like that.

"Yes, the results were extremely disappointing. And I never imagined we would finish fifth and 30 points off the top and not qualify for Europe. I am still shocked.

"But if you take a step back and take a look at it more holistically. The women's team is flying, they won a double and are seeded in Europe. The Academy is doing well, we have kids going to England and we have Premier League clubs talking to us about forming partnerships.

"The community work we do is also commendable. We gave out 10,000 meals, thousands of Christmas presents and hampers. None of these things were happening five years ago, so the club as a whole has progressed very well.

"But the men's team's performances have been disappointing."

Some fans have called for change at boardroom level, questioning the structures in place on Mersey Street.

Pour doesn't believe there is any need for "drastic change" within the corridors of power at the Oval, despite the club's stagnant position in the Premiership.

"I don't feel there is the need for drastic change. We have a board that makes decisions," he said.

Photo showing former Glentoran manager Warren Feeney
Former Glentoran manager Warren Feeney -Credit:INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

"I am on the phone for an hour a day with the club, wherever I am in the world, to follow up on things. We have a general manager, a commercial manager, we have a full-time team here.

"So I wouldn't say drastic changes are required. There is always room for improvement in any business, and I will be addressing these issues moving forwards. To be fair it was Mick McDermott, Paul Millar and myself who started things off. Mick is away now, Paul has another full-time job as well.

"So I can see why fans need some clarification on things. And I will discuss that with them when I see them."

Meanwhile, Pour has played down reports that players were not paid wages and bonuses earlier in the year, speculation that sparked more criticism from fans.

He added: "I asked the players about this. There was some confusion. We can never pay anyone late. I have other businesses, and not once have any of my employees been paid late. And that's something I believe very strongly about.

"I think there was an issue with bonuses, which the players thought were paid late but they misread the contract. I was here a few months ago and asked the players and there was a misunderstanding.

"But I will be checking this again so there is no issues there. That's the last thing we would do, paying someone late."

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