A meeting between representatives of the Trust and the football club took place on Wednesday 18th November. Present were Chairman Peter Ridsdale and Group Finance Director Alan Flitcroft representing the club, and Chairman Paul Corkrey, Vice-Chairman Tim Hartley, Community Officer Tracey Marsh and Membership Secretary Dave Sugarman representing the Trust.
The following is a report of the topics discussed. Apologies for the slight delay – the Trust reps have been waiting for clarification on several issues, which were only forthcoming from the club via e-mail late last week.
Platinum Ambassadors Season Ticket Scheme:
Many of the points raised by members via e-mail were communicated to the club’s officials by the Trust representatives. In particular, strong objections were raised about the fact that fans can only pay for Platinum Ambassador Season Tickets in instalments via an agreement with the Zebra Finance company as opposed to the interest-free option which was available directly through the club last year.
Peter Ridsdale defended the club’s stance. He said that Zebra Finance had been instructed by the club to approve all applications requesting the finance option, and added that he felt the deal on offer was fair for fans who wanted to take advantage of the five-year price freeze, particularly as the interest rate was relatively low. However, he added that the club would investigate the practicality of reinstating an interest-free option for standard season tickets when they go on sale in January 2010. He added that any season tickets purchased after December 2009 would definitely not qualify for the five-year price freeze.
Communication between the Club and the Trust:
The Trust reps explained they felt that proper consultation with the various supporters’ groups would benefit the club when they were making decisions about ticketing policies such as the Platinum Ambassadors scheme. Peter Ridsdale he didn’t believe such consultation would have many any difference to the club’s decision in this instance, but he agreed that communication should be improved going forward.
The Trust’s Anti-Social Behaviour Initiative:
The Trust reps gave a summary of the rational behind the scheme and outlined the difficulties they were encountering in attempting to liaise with the club’s Football in the Community section. Peter Ridsdale said he supported the Trust’s initiative but was keen to avoid any duplication with the work being undertaken by FITC. Alan Flitcroft gave an undertaking to quickly determine whether the club’s FITC section were going to get actively involved in the initiative or not.
Meeting with Trust Members:
The Trust reps requested that Peter Ridsdale attend a meeting with Trust members in January. The Chairman agreed to do so and a date will be announced for the meeting in due course.
Tickets for Community Groups:
The Trust reps requested further batches of free tickets for home matches to be distributed to community groups, as happened for the QPR and Derby games. Peter Ridsdale said he supported the idea and Alan Flitcroft undertook to engage with the FITC section to ensure no duplication of work takes place.
The Trust reps outlined their dissatisfaction with the club’s lack of marketing by comparison to other local sports clubs such as the Cardiff Blues and the Cardiff Devils. The reps said they felt visibility for the club at public events across South Wales was important, not only in attracting new supporters but in helping to change the perception of the club from the general public. Alan Flitcroft stated the club would like to be doing more but needed to keep a check on its finances in that regard. Peter Ridsdale defended the club’s current marketing strategies but accepted that more could be done, and he assured the reps that it will be done id due course as the club moves forward.
Fred Keenor Statue Campaign:
The Trust reps outlined the latest situation with regards to the campaign and asked for the club’s support. Peter Ridsdale confirmed the campaign has his full support.
The Club Shop:
The Trust reps complained about the availability and quality of the merchandise stocked by the club shop. Peter Ridsdale said he fully understood the shop wasn’t good enough at present and gave assurances that stocking levels would improve in due course.
The Family Stand:
The Trust reps requested access to the Family Stand for a forthcoming game. Alan Flitcroft stated this should be no problem and arrangements will be made in due course.
The Trust reps requested that mirrors be placed in the women’s toilets according to the wishes of various female members. Alan Flitcroft said he will talk to Stadium Manager Wayne Nash and see if these can be provided.
Tables and Chairs:
The Trust reps requested that more tables and chairs be positioned on the concourses around the ground. Alan Flitcroft said there may be a possible health and safety issue with moveable tables and chairs, but he undertook to consult with Wayne Nash and see if this is possible.
Exiting the Stadium Car Park:
The Trust reps relayed complaints from members about the time it takes to exit the stadium car park once games have finished. Alan Flitcroft replied that health and safety rules dictated the club must allow pedestrians to leave the stadium area before cars. He said he believed the wait was now down to a maximum of ten to fifteen minutes and said the local traffic lights had now timed better to ease congestion.
The Trust reps asked if there was any news on the proposed memorial garden outside the new stadium. Alan Flitcroft gave an undertaking to find out what the latest situation regarding this issue is with the stadium’s management.
The Trust reps said they felt the club is not doing enough to advertise the discounted ticket deals it is offering, particularly in relation to the Family Stand. Alan Flitcroft said that promotions were not adding significantly to ticket sales even when money is spent on advertising. However, he added that the club’s whole sales and marketing strategy will be reviewed in the New Year.
The Trust reps requested clarification of the club’s financial situation. Alan Flitcroft admitted there is a cash flow problem, but Peter Ridsdale added that it is no worse now than it usually is at the club, and he totally rejected rumours that the club is about to enter administration. Peter said that negotiations with Langston representative Sam Hammam are ongoing and he said he expected an agreement to be reached very soon. He stated that neither party wants to go down the route of more legal action and suggested that both sides are keen to get the matter sorted out quickly. The Chairman confirmed that he was in talks with two potential investors in the club and hinted that those talks will have a positive outcome. He asked the Trust reps to assure members that the club is far from being on the verge of collapse as has been suggested in some quarters, and he painted a positive picture of the club both in the short and the long term.