The Trust vice-chair, Mike Roderick and board member, Keith Morgan attended a meeting with Cardiff City CEO, Gethin Jenkins on 20th October. Also present from the Club were Julian Jenkins, Wayne Nash and Barrie McAuliffe.
We started by asking Gethin about new members joining the board of Cardiff City, as this had been reported on message boards in the previous 24 hours. Gethin confirmed that the current composition of the CCFC board was being looked at but was unable to say more as any appointment of new directors would be subject to Football League procedures before being announced. He declined to expand further on this answer, despite us pointing out that we were expecting further, speculative “details” to be made public later that evening on message boards (as subsequently proved to be the case). Gethin maintained that he would not comment further until able to officially.
We thanked the Club for the good co-operation we had experienced, particularly in relation to the Fred Keenor Appeal, which was much appreciated. We handed out copies of a newly drafted Trust publicity leaflet and asked if the Club would be willing to include it in the envelope when mailing out next season’s season tickets. The Club agreed to look into this.
We asked for feedback from the Club on proposals we had previously made about improving the Away Travel Membership scheme and were delighted to hear from Julian that some of our suggestions had already been incorporated in the scheme. Details are on the Club’s official web-site at www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk/page/AwayMembership/0,,10335,00.html.
We also asked if something better could be done regarding accommodating the Trust at the stadium since the current Trust area inside the ground is not accessible to all fans. Wayne Nash offered to show us around the boundaries of the stadium in an effort to find a suitable room/office which might be adapted to offer access to fans from outside but stressed that it will be difficult. We might have to ask the Supporters Club about sharing accommodation.
Several members had asked us to raise questions about the Club’s current financial position, particularly in relation to outstanding debts and what is being done to clear them. Whilst not wanting to comment on specifics for reasons of confidentiality, Gethin emphasised that much had been done to satisfy many creditors and other debts had been re-negotiated and would be cleared as they fall due. Whilst it is not possible to quote a “break-even” figure for attendances, they are currently exceeding pre-season budgets and the Club is benefitting from greater commercial opportunities, boosted by the arrival of Craig Bellamy.
Wayne provided us with an update on the proposed Memorial Garden. This will now be sited in an area near the old Ninian Park gates and the City Walk. The area chosen is still being worked on by the building contractor responsible for the Redrow development and we will have to wait for formal completion of that work before being able to start establishing the Memorial Garden. Realistically, given the onset of winter, the garden is likely not to be finished until the start of next season.
Recognising it is a matter more for Dave Jones, we nevertheless asked whether it would make sense to have regular reserve team fixtures, particularly to benefit players returning from injury and to give players not regularly playing in the first team, match practice. Gethin assured us that the decision not to engage in regular reserve team fixtures was a football, not financial, one. Apparently, Dave’s view is that such fixtures only increase the likelihood of players picking up injuries but one-off games are arranged when necessary, like the recent one against Bristol Rovers.
We asked about the Club’s response to a recent UEFA requirement that clubs should appoint a Supporters Liaison Officer by 2012/13. Julian anticipated that the requirement would likely be met by incorporating it within an existing role at the Club but great efforts are already being made to liaise more closely with fans. The Club is seeking to become a more “customer-driven” organisation and has recently introduced regular email newsletters and offers and has undertaken supporter surveys. The Club will also soon be starting a Supporters Forum and before we could ask, Julian offered the Trust two places on it, likewise the Supporters Club.
Julian explained that much more time, effort and money is being spent on marketing the Club to the South Wales public and new tools being used will help the identify geographical areas where the Club needs to do more to engage with the local populace. We repeated previous offers to help in these efforts by working with the Club.
Julian presented the results of the recent fan surveys. 1,400 supporters had completed them and had given ratings on a broad range of topics including ticketing, shopping, stewarding and other aspects of their experience of interacting with Cardiff City. Overall, the Club had received exceptionally good scores, though some aspects such as catering and match day transport require improvement. We took the opportunity to raise the concern expressed by one of our members that overcrowding on trains and the platform at Ninian Park Halt was now a serious safety issue due to increased attendances at games. We were pleased to hear that the Club is seeking a meeting with Arriva Trains soon to discuss improving train services on match days. It was also great to hear that within 4 weeks, the Club will deliver a new on-line ticketing service which will include the ability to select individual seats within the stadium.
We asked whether the Club planned to offer fans without season tickets, the opportunity to buy tickets in batches at a discount. A pro-rata season ticket, offering a potential saving of £200 is now being offered to fans and details have been announced via the official web-site.
We asked what plans the Club has to display to the public the items of historical memorabilia which were previously on show at Ninian Park. Wayne explained that many of these items are in a display cabinet in the foyer while others are in the boardroom, the directors’ guests’ suite and the corporate hospitality areas. The Club is also planning to install a “Time-Line” display in the Centenary Suite, charting the ups and downs of Cardiff City through the years. Special stadium tours are being offered in aid of the Fred Keenor Appeal and may be made available on a more regular basis, giving fans the chance to view the Club’s memorabilia for themselves.
We closed the meeting by asking Gethin about his experiences as a former rugby man entering the world of Cardiff City, as members had asked questions about this. In typically modest fashion, Gethin declined to really speak about himself, though we think we may have convinced him to be interviewed about this in a future issue of the Trust magazine.
In order to save time at the meeting itself (which lasted over 2 hours, by the way), we had previously submitted some member questions by email.
The questions and answers given appear below:
- Will there be reduced ticket prices for the home F.A. cup matches for ambassadors?
It depends. Any decision is subject to the opposition and needs to be by agreement with the visiting team.
- When we bought season tickets for the last season at Ninian Park, it was stated that there would be a roll of honour board for the last ever season ticket holders at Ninian Park sited at the new stadium. Could you tell me where it is at the new stadium?
We weren’t aware that this had been promised. We will look into it.
- Have the club considered offering an Armed Forces discount to serving personnel. Many other football league clubs ranging from Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry, Leyton Orient and Walsall offer a range of discounts for serving supporters.
We already participate in the tickets for troops scheme and have also provided discounted tickets for the 999 services. We do more than most clubs for the troops. The Swansea City match will be used to mark Remembrance Day.
- Could the Bar on Level 4 stay open more than an hour after each game please? If this is not an option could Level 4 members enjoy a drink on level 3?
We are looking to be flexible on this but an hour after the match is the industry norm. Due to the way the memberships are structured, Level four members can’t go down to level three.
- Premier club seating has been a failure and even when there are ‘sell outs’ the seats are stubbornly empty. Would you consider offering Platinum Ambassadors a chance to upgrade at a discount?
We cannot devalue the offer to existing Premier Club members by making the seating generally available but options are offered to grandstand season ticket holders to upgrade.
- Kids club for younger supporters? I keep checking to find out what is going on on the website and there is no updated information about how much or how to sign up my two young sons (7 and 5).
We are looking into this.