SOUTHEND United manager Ron Martin met with a group of supporters following Saturday's clash with Morecambe at Roots Hall.

The fans had originally been planning to protest about the way the Shrimpers had been run.

But Martin invited the supporters in for a conversation.

And Echosport has now been sent the full minutes from the meeting. 

"It was acknowledged that there has not always been as much communication direct with the fans as we had wanted, other than what is reported in the Echo, other media outlets and within the club statements which has caused fans to become very frustrated and annoyed with the way things are perceived to be run.

"Ron was not aware that a lot of the information he is happy to share about the club, actually hadn’t been put out publicly. RM confirmed that the HMRC debt will be paid by the 28th October, from monies to be released next week by Lloyds and money from his own pocket, rather than the club.

"The transfer embargo will also soon be lifted. He advised that HMRC take court action on any debt which is not paid within two days of payment due, and this is why it has become a common occurrence, and once the proceedings are started, there is very little that can be done to stop them.

"There are a number of clubs in the EFL who have had the same issue with Lloyds at present, with holding onto funds.

"Lloyds are doing this as they are concerned that should fans request call back of payments made on credit/debit card, Lloyds would have to process these and could be out of pocket if they are unable to recoup the money back from the football clubs.

"Originally funding would be released on a game by game basis, but due to the delays on fans returning, Lloyds had wanted to delay payment until fans return and the revenue stream is up and running again.

"However RM has spoken with the Head of Credit at Lloyds, and it has been agreed that the money will be released to us in tranches. The first being next week, a further tranche around November time and the rest in Q1 next year.

"A budget is being put together this week, and RM said a very small amount of investment may be required, which he will do, within the fair play rules.

"There is also hope that an EFL rescue package will be communicated in the next few weeks to help out all lower league clubs.

"RM spoke about how the drop from League One to League Two had impacted the wages available to players, with most having a 50 per cent pay cut.

"He has also streamlined the wage bill by releasing some of the higher paid players (such as Cox, Kiernan, Ridgewell, Kightly) and the total wage bill has been reduced from £2.8million at the beginning of last season and reduced to £2.2m at the end of last season and currently stands at £1.1million this season, which will greatly assist cash flow.

"This will increase as a result of current negotiations and further signings, and of course we have to stay within a cap of £ 1.5m which includes related fees and costs.

"We asked how he felt the transfer embargo was affecting the squad and he said that it doesn’t concern him.

"He is aware that currently we are unbalanced with way too many younger, inexperienced players, but he is starting to counteract this with the signings he has brought in (five so far) and a further midfielder to be signed on a permanent contract this week.

"The transfer embargo limit of 23 is not an issue, as they are simply bringing in players at the top end, and releasing them from the bottom end.

"Therefore there is no immediate gain from having the embargo lifted MM commented that the market is strange at present.

"The good players want good money, the experienced players, left on the shelf, are there for a reason, and the remaining players available to sign are young.

"MM would like to bring in a further centre back (on top of this week's new signing) as a permanent addition if possible.

"They both agreed that short term contracts were sometimes preferable as opposed to longer contracts for players, who usually through injury, have very little game time.

"MM is confident that having Macca, White, Lennon, Dieng and JD back will start to balance the experience.

"He was pleased with Kyle Taylor's debut at the weekend, as he only met most of the squad before the game on Saturday, having not been in training with them and literally didn’t even know his new team mates names on Saturday.

"MM admits that he is about two weeks behind with fitness, but they are working to resolve this. MM would like to always be looking a year ahead at the squad, however given that he has only just taken charge, it has not been possible to do this, however he is 100 per cent committed to building the team.

"It was refreshing to see that MM and RM do seem to have a very good and positive relationship. MM has brought in six (soon to be seven) of his preferred staff to compliment his management style.

"MM said that players have been training hard, and Mark and his staff have been working late into the evening, so they can analyse the footage and see where mistakes are being made to rectify them.

"MM has said that he can see ‘green shoots’ and believes things are going very well, even if we are not yet seeing the results on the pitch.

"We asked about the selling of players such as Humphrys and RM said it was simply the right thing to do. Stevie had experienced life back with his family during lockdown and decided that being close to home was more important so from that moment our hands were tied as he no longer wanted to be playing for us.

"MM also added, he would have only have devalued himself if he had stayed at the club.

"Regarding any offers for other players, the club had turned down a £400,000 offer for Charlie Kelman from Spurs and also turned down a proposal for Elvis on New Years Eve.

"Ron was also asked about Nile Ranger returning to the club as some fans have said on various social media sites they would give him one more chance, but Ron confirmed that Nile will NOT be returning to the club.

"We asked Ron, is JD (Jason Demetriou) the spokesperson for the team as he said he was speaking to him by text the other day in an interview.

"Ron said he speaks to JD, and one or two other senior pros which included Simon Cox who was the spokesperson for the team but there is not one individual at present.

"In general Ron doesn't interact with the players too much as that's the manager’s role and he doesn't want to undermine Mark's position by interfering too much with the players.

"JD went to Ron and said he would love to stay at the club longer and would be prepared to renegotiate his contract to include a reduction and an additional year (those discussions have not yet progressed) and combine his playing with some coaching.

"Ron said that he wouldn’t do that right now as it wasn’t the right time but appreciated the o¬ffer from JD and it just goes to show how much JD wants to stay at the club and help out, which Ron loved.

"He said “that’s JD all over”.

"RM mentioned that he is aware that sometimes we have paid too much in agents fee, however he has seen this as being a good investment as by paying the agent more, you build longstanding relationships and you are more likely to get the player you want.

"There was the inevitable talk about the new stadium and what the timescales were.

"RM said that once the planning application was finally approved (which he hopes will not be too far away now) the construction would be underway in around nine months from planning approval, with approximately a six year completion time frame for the enabling residential development of the stadium.

"The stadium itself would take about a year to build with the initial three sides being built first and the fourth stand to be built further down the line.

"Once the stadium is built, and the associated residential resold, RM confirmed the club will have no debt at the new stadium which he stressed that they don’t currently have at Roots Hall either.

"RM is pleased that he is now in control of the move and he is no longer having to rely on other company’s such as Sainsbury’s to make things happen, and the stadium would be under club control when finished.

"The fans stressed the importance to Ron of eventually having a four sided stadium as Oxford being a prime example with only three sides and the atmosphere being drained out of the stadium.

"Ron said this won't happen as there will be apartments built within the fourth stand so it will eventually be a four sided stadium.

"The soccer dome which is currently stored at the training ground will also be built on the new site.

"Ron was also asked how the club will make money on non-match days now that the retail and leisure plans have been scrapped.

"Ron said that the income from the retail and residential to create the investment was no different but the income streams in the stadium would be considerable and far in excess of anything we could ever enjoy at Roots Hall.

"The final design of the main stand is not complete but the main “Ballroom” which will seat 800 - 1000 people (Views both to the North and South over the pitch... the entire span of the north stand) when open plan has a capability of being divided to be used for mutiplicity functions on non-match days.

"Ron also mentioned that the Hilton Hotel will now not be built at the new stadium.

"The main reason for this being that with the airport already having one hotel and possibly another one built there just wouldn’t be the demand for another hotel so close to the airport.

"Ron remains 100 per cent confident that the stadium will go ahead.

"Going forward, RM has off¬ered to hold further meetings with fans, whether it be with himself, Mark or other members of his management.

"He has said that he has always welcomed direct communication.

"He has recognised that the club maybe need to keep fans more up to date with the goings on at the club, but also stresses that certain items can't be discussed obviously due to legal reasons.

"Overall the meeting lasted for two hours, for which we were very grateful, especially as MM had a long drive home to see his family in Bournemouth Saturday night, as he and his staff are still in a hotel at the moment and RM also had pre-arranged plans in the evening, so we did appreciate them giving us the proper time to talk.

"Ron gave us assurances that the club will not be wound up and is confident of a much brighter future on and off the field."