Trust chair Keith Morgan held an online meeting with Cardiff City chief executive Ken Choo and other club executives earlier this month. He asked questions sent to us by members and below is a transcript of that meeting.
Keith Morgan – for Trust
Ken Choo – CCFC CEO and Executive Director
Wayne Nash – CCFC Head of Operations
Mark Denham – CCFC Head of Communications
Mona Sabbuba – CCFC Head of Ticketing
Amy James –CCFC Head of Fan Engagement
Ben Jones – CCFC Fan Engagement Officer/Disabled Support Officer
Each of the questions raised by fans are set out below in bold in the format in which they were received from the Trust member concerned. Below each question is then set out the answers given by the club in summary format to include points arising from the discussions held.
Q. How will the club be replacing Adam Gilliatt as Supporters Liaison Officer and link to the Disabled Supporters Group. These are roles required by EFL rules and Adam was extremely good at his job and very well-liked by fans` group representatives. Also, those groups were not informed he was leaving and have not been informed who his replacement is.
A. The club spent a lot of time trying to persuade Adam to stay in post right up until he made his final decision to leave but were unsuccessful. Plans to replace him, both permanently and in the interim period are at an advanced stage and fans` representatives will be informed as soon as this is finalised. Adam`s departure (with a thank you for his services) was included in the Bristol City match day programme. Technically he was still employed in the role until his notice period ends as at the time of this meeting which is why he is still listed on the club`s official website.
(Comment – it is worth noting that Adam Gilliatt was very helpful in resolving Trust Members’ queries when the problems of season ticket renewal were at their height and he always made a point of calling in on matchdays to the Trust Office to see if there were any problems. It is hoped that his replacement in the liaison role continues his good work. The match day programme is only purchased by a relatively small percentage of fans and therefore Adam`s departure was not brought to the attention of most fans).
Q. Have the major problems with season tickets encountered with the outsourced supplier now been resolved and when can fans expect their new physical season tickets to be issued?
A. The problem with the outsourced work has now been overcome. Resolution of this issue was not helped at all by the great shortage of staff available in the ticketing department caused by a number of factors. Staffing levels have now increased to nearer pre-pandemic levels. The process of sending out the new (enhanced) season tickets has already started and all season ticket holders should receive them very shortly
(Comment – the understaffed ticket office received a great deal of angry reaction from season ticket holders despite the cause of the problem not being down to them. Senior management at the club could have done more to address the staffing shortages to help protect the Ticket Office staff from misdirected levels of criticism and abuse from fans).
Q. In a recent Fan Engagement Survey published in the Daily Telegraph and elsewhere, CCFC were ranked an extremely embarrassing 87th out of 91 clubs surveyed for its fan engagement. This came as a shock to CCFC fans reading the results and has led to us being mocked by fans of other clubs particularly those of far smaller clubs who have no in house resources whose job it is to deal with fan engagement but appear to be doing it far better than us.
A. The survey was done by an individual whose source of data is far from clear as he did not liaise with the club as to answers to questions raised in the survey and published it without the opportunity for the club to preview it and comment on any errors in it. The club, therefore, believes the survey results to be inaccurate and an unfair reflection of its actual engagement with its fans. One of the key factors for the very poor score, in the club`s opinion, was the comment about the lack of fan representation on the football club board.
(Comment – neither the Trust nor CCSC has consulted ahead of the survey being published to give their input as elected fans` representatives. Our comments, both supportive and critical of the club where appropriate would have given a far more accurate reflection of reality than the published survey did. In terms of supporter representation on the club board, there is of course a long term fan present in Steve Borley. However, he cannot be seen to be an independent voice for fans due to his close financial links to the club and its owner).
Q. In July this year, it was announced that Abdul Jalil BinAbdul Rasheed had been appointed as a non-executive director of Cardiff City Football Club and its parent company. His exact role and the extent of his involvement in the football club rather than his main employment as a senior executive of Berjaya Group and advisor in other Vincent Tan businesses is somewhat unclear. What is his role and how does it fit in with the existing roles of the Chair and CEO at the club?
In looking at other directorships listed at the club it is also not clear what the following directors are contributing to CCFC
Marco Caramella – appointed 2017
Derek Chin – appointed 2010
Danni Rais -appointed 2012
- Jalil Rasheed (as he is known rather than by his full name) is a highly regarded director in Berjaya Group who has been tasked with creating and implementing a longer term strategy both in the UK and elsewhere for the football club rather than being involved in its day to day operations which remain under the control of the CEO and Chair. He is in regular frequent contact with Ken Choo and is keen to visit the club (with Vincent Tan) as soon as global travel restrictions (particularly those in Malaysia) allow. It was also clarified at the meeting that his recent reference in the media to “we” having taken a majority shareholding in FK Sarajevo was for Vincent Tan and another unnamed individual and that CCFC have not taken a shareholding or other investment in that club.
Marco Caramella is currently based in Cardiff, where he was born and bred) and acts as its “ambassador” in Malaysia where he has significant business influence.
Derek Chin is a senior legal advisor in Berjaya Group and acts as the professional link between the club`s UK legal advisors and the owner Vincent Tan
Danni Rais – a high profile person in social media in Malaysia whose father is a highly connected politician in Malaysia.
(Comment– it would be helpful if a “pen picture” of each of the above directors could be posted on the club official website so that fans can better understand their contribution to CCFC. Jalil Rasheed should be encouraged to try and hold an online meeting with fans representatives pending him being able to travel to CCFC to meet people in person to clarify his strategic plans for the club. The Trust will continue to liaise with Ken Choo to bring this about).
Q. Could you provide a brief summary of the current legal cases being brought against the club by Nantes FC, Sam Hammam and Michael Isaac the existence of the latter two being brought to the attention of fans and the media by Mehmet Dalman earlier this year?
A. These matters are currently at different stages of their legal process but the club remains confident based on legal advice that the claimants will not be successful in their claims. Prior to providing any outline/summary of the current position, Ken will need to speak to the club`s external legal advisors for their guidance.
(Comment – it is right that the club seek legal advice before formally commenting on legal actions being brought about but, subject to that consent being given, Ken has stated that a brief summary can be made available. One point that was made was that no date has been set by CAS for a hearing of the Nantes FC Emiliano Sala case – delays are not down to CCFC. We are still yet to receive the latest update from the Club’s legal advisors but will update members as soon as it is received.)
Q. The club`s tribute to Peter Whittingham at the first match day opportunity v Barnsley was very well done and very well received by fans. Are there any plans to have a further (possibly more permanent) tribute to Peter in the near future.
A. The club is fully committed to further honouring Peter. There are certainly plans to have a further tribute but exact details cannot be finalised at present and will only be done with the consent and support of his family. Timings of, for example, a tribute match would be dependent on gaps in what is going to be a very congested fixture list.
(Comment – The specific request of the renaming of the Family Stand as suggested by Trust Members has not been ruled out at this stage but a permanent commemoration of Peter is very much under consideration. As fans we need to “watch this space” and the Trust and CCSC will be kept fully informed of developments as and when they occur.).
Q. The club has rightly received widespread praise for its initiative in providing a socially distanced area of CCS for fans who do not still feel comfortable sitting in their previous seats due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. Is it planned to continue this facility for the foreseeable future? However, some fans have expressed their concern that areas in the ground such as toilets and food franchises are not being policed by stewards to ensure that fans are compliant with face wearing requirements under the club`s fan conduct rules in those areas.
A. It is the club`s plan to continue to provide the socially distanced seating facility for as long as ground capacity and attendance numbers allow. Although stewards may not always be visible at toilets and food outlets they are present in the locality within concourses with instructions to remind fans of the requirements.
(Comment – stewards might be present in concourses but they are certainly not visible at “pinch points” such as toilets and food outlets to remind fans of the requirement under the fans` code of conduct (on the club website and a condition of attendance at games) to wear facemasks in those areas. No point having a code of conduct if no efforts are made to enforce/police it.
(Further comment – there is quite possibly going to be a Welsh Government announcement soon about an extension of mandatory rules for attending large attendance events such as CCFC games. In terms of keeping socially distanced seating, it is evident from the Club’s response that it will not pass on a possible opportunity to fill the stadium. However, they think that this situation is unlikely to arise).
Q. Are there any plans for another (probably online)meeting with fans and the media similar to the one held by Mehmet Dalman earlier this year?
A. Possibly, but nothing specific at the moment. However, as previously said in an answer to an earlier question the new non-executive director has stated that he and the club owner Vincent Tan club wish to visit CCS as soon as practicable when current travel restrictions allow – Malaysian travel restrictions are even stricter than in the UK.
(Comment – as stated above, whilst awaiting a physical visit to the stadium by the new director and/or the owner, there is nothing to stop a virtual meeting being held to update fans. A similar online meeting was held by the club Chair earlier this year. The Trust will continue to press for such a meeting.).
Q. Keiffer Moore has recently missed three Wales games because of being a close contact of someone with Covid and had to isolate for 10 days. And yet many of CCFC`s playing squad have not taken the opportunity to be vaccinated. What pressure has the club put on the players to get both their vaccinations?
A. The club cannot contractually force players and other staff to have their vaccinations. However, they continue to strongly recommend that they do so on both medical and commercial grounds. An outside independent advisory resource is due to come to CCS in the next week or so to speak to the playing squad to reinforce this message.
(Comment – The club is at risk of one or more of its playing squad assets being unavailable due to enforced isolation while still having to pay them several tens of thousands of pounds in salaries. The Trust, like all City fans would like to see player availability maximised.
Q.There has been recent media coverage of the strong likelihood of “safe standing” being introduced at clubs later this season and certainly by next season. Does the club have any plans for this?.
A. The club has already carried out a significant amount of work on this with the relevant authorities such as Government and Ground Safety officials. An announcement on the specific plans will be made in the near future.
(Comment – without being able to go into specific timing details, it is anticipated that positive news on this development will be made available very shortly).
Q. Are the club aware of the political pressure the Trust is currently bringing to bear on Cardiff Bus to reinstate a shuttle bus service from Cardiff City Centre to CCS and back on matchdays that they have withdrawn for this season?
A. Although the club wasn`t aware of the Trust work on this, the club itself knows that the service had been withdrawn and have also requested that the service (which appears to cover its costs in fares paid) be reinstated.
(Comment – this is an area where the Trust and club will continue to work together to reinstate a service for our fans).