‘We must move forward at full power, because only one thing matters: the Feyenoord first team. Everything will have to serve that,’ said Onno Jacobs. ‘For that we have to close ranks. Feyenoord is often described – correctly or otherwise – as a club that opposes everything. We have to lose that image. We have to radiate unity and solidarity throughout the ranks. So not only in the Feyenoord blood groups, but also to all bodies to which we have natural and inseparable ties, such as the [Dutch football association] KNVB and
UEFA. We have to radiate a club you are proud to belong to. You want to belong to and that commands respect on and off the pitch as a respected member of the football family.’
The relationship with the supporters cannot be taken out of that context in the opinion of Jacobs. Feyenoord wants to increase the involvement of the supporters. Ways of doing that are currently being looked at, in consultation with the Feyenoord supporters club.
The two management team members also looked back over the past year – not the easiest in the club’s recent history. ‘The poisoned chalice was deep and it felt like it would never end. Admitted Woerts. ‘In sporting terms we obviously remember the disastrous playoff matches, the problems in Nancy, the administrative vicissitudes, the reporting on the financial woes. It felt like the whole world had turned against Feyenoord. But as Wim Jansen said, the club will always overcome and rise to the top.’
‘Feyenoord is on the threshold of a new era. Without chairman Jorien van den Herik. Feyenoord owes a deal, a great deal, to Jorien. He has not only done a lot for Feyenoord, but also for Dutch football as a whole. He saved the club from catastrophe at a crucial time. He was the only one to stand up in that turbulent period to invest funds and then have the vision to build the club up with perspective. The highlight was of course winning the UEFA Cup in 2002. It is sad that he has stood down as chairman, but given everything that has happened it was expected. The long-fought and correct final ruling in the FIOD affair was the end of a psychological thriller that you would not wish on anyone. He deserves a great and dignified farewell and we will do out utmost to ensure he gets it,’ said Woerts.
Feyenoord continues to look for new commercial openings, explained Woerts. An electronic boarding system will be taken into use soon, which will drive revenue. The club is also in discussions with the stadium managers for the joint management of catering at De Kuip. Woerts was also happy to rebuff suggestions that Feyenoord has poor relations with businesses at the Port of Rotterdam. ‘Nothing is further from the truth. Almost every big company at the Port of Rotterdam has business ties with the club and the Shipping Club was also established this season, a guild of Port of Rotterdam companies already with sixty members, which will grow to a hundred members next year. The goal is to form ties with more of this type of community at Feyenoord, starting with the real estate industry in Rotterdam. And the media developments are also progressing. Feyenoord is getting its own TV channel. The media revenues in the Netherlands are not huge in comparison with England and France, but by managing our own content it should be possible to generate income from this.’
The management team expressed its admiration for the way Erwin Koeman has coped during a turbulent period. ‘Erwin never complains, he is positive and he is really a genuine Rotterdammer, who makes do with what he has. He is giving the youths a chance: Royston Drenthe, Jonathan de Guzman, Tim Vincken. Talent that has been brought through at Varkenoord. Obviously Feyenoord will continue to invest in players from outside the club, but more than ever we will focus on bringing through youngsters ourselves. The importance of Varkenoord will increase. We have pulled out of many partnerships. Without sentiment, if it’s not working you have to have the courage to stop it. We will continue with Ghana. Varkenoord is central and if a youngster breaks through in Ghana that’s good for the club,’ concluded Woerts.