Amber: Hello Martin. You are one of the more recent directors to join the board. How did it feel coming into a club where everyone seems to have been around, like, forever ?
Martin: Well, the least flattering photo ever taken of me - the one in the Boardroom in amongst all the board members - has me looking like I've been around more-than-forever, so I guess I just fitted in alongside the other long-term inmates.
Amber: A little bird, but definitely not a Robin, told me you were born in Sutton, is that right ? So have you always been a supporter ?
Martin: No word of a lie - the Sutton Mansion aka St Helier Hospital - was where it was at, for me and our kid (my sister, as those of you familiar with Oasis land will know). We moved up to the outskirts of Manchester with my Dad's job when I was 2, but I always had a soft spot for my home-town U's. And I got heavily into non-league up there with the real Robins, as Altrincham are also known - one of the few other big big giant-killer names outside the League.
Amber: How did you come to get involved with the club ?
Martin: I've been working with a Saudi company called MBuzz for a number of years - they provide telecom products and services to big companies around the Middle East and newly in Europe - in fact, some of their mobile switches were recently installed at Surrey Uni over in Guildford, so there's another local connection. A few seasons back, MBuzz sponsored Saudi-owned Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi at Wembley. They got a lot of positive feedback, and so decided they wanted to get more into sport. I suggested they might want to get involved with the U's, and they thought that would be a great first step.
Amber: Is Sutton the only club that MBuzz is involved with ?
Martin: No, we play a similar role with a club called Linense in 'Segunda B' - the Spanish 3rd division. They're just over the border from Gibraltar, and in fact a lot of Brits living in Gib come and watch them play. MBuzz Vice Chairman Youssef Abdellaoui's son plays for them too.
Amber: What sort of ambitions do MBuzz have ? Where do you think Sutton can get to ?
Martin: We first got involved a couple of seasons ago when the club was riding high in our League, and everyone was hoping we'd get promoted into the Football League for the first time in our history. MBuzz put quite a bit of cash into a war chest so our squad wouldn't get raided by League teams during the January window that year, and also to add to the squad if Dos felt it was necessary. We didn't quite make it, as everyone reading this will know, but we're hopeful we can get back up there soon. If we can keep our present form going, you never know...
Amber: So can the fans look forward to a pre-season friendly in Jeddah ?
Martin: Hahaaa, there again, you never know! ... or in Riyadh, the Saudi capital where MBuzz is actually based. Football is big in Saudi Arabia - huge actually. The big Riyadh or Jeddah derbies will get 50-60,000 fans, and they're just as heavy-duty as over here... scarves and drums and all. We'd have to pick our oppo fairly carefully though - Al Hilal, the Saudi and Asian Champions League winners, just came 4th in the World Club Cup that Liverpool won!
Amber: It must be difficult attending board meetings if you aren't based here.
Martin: Well there's this handy thing called FaceTime - as long as the Boardroom wifi is behaving, and as long as there's a vaguely tech savvy Board member in the room (not always easy!)
Martin: And finally, do you expect to get to many games in the second half of the season ?
Martin: Jamie (my GB rower son) and myself made the Yeovil nail-biter, but sadly missed the Woking walkover . Next stop Chesterfield, and then we'll need to see. But I'm a regular Mixlr-er - great to hear the dulcet tones of south London at strange times of the day and night in deepest Jeddah.
Amber: Martin, thank you for your time. It has been a pleasure talking to you. One more thing, I've always wanted to ride a camel...
Martin: Well camel's milk chocolate is probably a little easier to organise - order from me now to avoid disappointment!!