Alan Flitcroft, Cardiff City’s Chief Operating Officer, joined Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust Chairman Paul Corkrey and around forty Trust members for an informal meeting at the Duke of Clarence public house in Canton yesterday evening (6/7/09).
Alan fielded questions on a wide variety of issues during a meeting that lasted almost two hours. What follows is a brief summary of the main topics discussed:
Catering at the new Cardiff City Stadium
Alan was asked to explain how the catering contract at the new stadium works. He revealed the club has been paid and advanced sum by catering operators Compass, which has enabled the club to pay for the fitting-out of all the food and drink outlets within the stadium. He said the club will receive a minimum guaranteed annual royalty for the duration of the Compass contract, and will also receive a cut of any excess above the set annual turnover figure.
The club had already announced earlier in the day that, after discussions with Compass, the prices of various food and drink items have been reduced. Alan said the club had taken on board the feedback supplied by Trust members and other supporters following Saturday’s Legends game and as a result had renegotiated the price of several key lines with the caterers. He revealed that all beers will now cost a maximum of £3 per pint on the concourses, the price of a Clark’s Pie will be reduced, and the pie and a pint deal will now cost a combined total of £5. He also stated that the vans selling very expensive pork rolls and large hotdogs at Saturday’s event are temporary measures while nearby catering outlets are being completed. They are likely to be in use for Friday’s friendly against Chasetown, but will be gone by the time City entertain Celtic at the stadium’s official opening ceremony on 22nd July.
Alan listened to the concerns expressed by a number of Trust members about the lack of variety in the catering products available to fans during Saturday’s Legends event, and said he will pass those comments on to Compass.
Alan was asked why the Away Membership fee is set as high as £20.00 when the club is now demonstrating it can operate a card system for £3.50. He replied that the money the club makes from the Away Membership scheme goes towards funding the cost of sending twelve Cardiff City stewards to each away game.
Allocation of Tickets for Big League and Cup Games
It was suggested that the club should draw up its policies for the allocation of home and away tickets for big matches before the season starts, so supporters know in advance exactly where they stand when such games come around. Loyalty schemes used by other clubs were discussed, and Alan gave an undertaking to explore this idea further.
Director Keith Harris
Alan was asked what role Keith Harris currently plays at the club and if he takes a salary from Cardiff City. He stated that Keith primarily acts as an advisor to the rest of board in terms of attracting further investment, and revealed the club has already followed up a number of interesting leads he has provided. Alan added that Keith is also an excellent source of information with regard to what is going on in the world of football finance, and it is a boost for the club to have someone of his stature within the game on its board of directors. Alan confirmed that Keith is paid a wage for his role as a non-executive director.
Match Day Prices for 2009/10
Alan confirmed the club is going to review its match day ticket prices for the 2009/10 campaign. He said a meeting is already scheduled to discuss this particular issue, and items on the agenda will include differential pricing for matches depending on the opposition and more innovative marketing of ticket sales. After listening to several suggestions from the floor, he said that ideas such as five and ten-game mini-season tickets would be added to the meeting’s agenda.
E-ticketing Booking Fees
Alan was asked why the booking fees are so high on the new e-ticketing system. He said the fees go towards funding the club’s link-up with agents Ticket Master, but he agreed that the costs involved should be reviewed and gave an undertaking to do so.
Langston Loan Notes Debt
Alan was asked is any of the £24 million loan notes debt had been cleared since the new board took over in January 2007. He said that it hadn’t, but added that the board is currently investigating ways in which to clear the loan notes debt with one renegotiated payment.
Alan stated that talk on internet message boards about a sponsorship deal involving a betting company was premature, as no such deal has yet been finalised. However, he said that discussions are ongoing in that regard, and added that if a betting company does sponsor the adult shirts, then the replica shirts for children are likely to carry the name of a local charity instead.
Away Bubble Trips
Concerns were expressed about the number of so-called ‘bubble trips’ the club’s travelling supporters are subjected to during each season. Alan said that club Chairman Peter Ridsdale is against all such restrictions in principle, but added that he personally feels they are necessary for certain matches. He said he believes the club must make a serious effort to ensure that any bubble trips this season are made as comfortable as possible for the fans that travel on them, and he also gave an undertaking to travel to a bubble match on a coach with the supporters in order to experience the sort of treatment they receive for himself.
Alan admitted that, while the club’s staff generally do a great job, there are times when the levels of customer service could be improved. He praised the staff and said that Cardiff City has some excellent employees who have been working very hard under difficult circumstances in recent years, but he acknowledged that there is room for improvement in terms of customer service. He said the club’s staff also recognize this and are currently taking positive steps in that respect.
Several complaints were made from the floor about the very poor marketing of the club. Alan was in total agreement that the club doesn’t currently do enough to market itself and that huge improvements are needed in this particular area. He admitted that the club doesn’t even have a marketing manager or marketing department as such, but hinted that changes are likely in that regard in the near future.
Alan gave up his own free time to attend this meeting, and he was open and honest with all of the answers he gave to questions from floor. The Trust members who were in attendance seemed to enjoy the meeting and Alan stated afterwards that the feedback he had received from the fans on a wide variety of issues had been valuable.
On behalf of the Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust, I would like to offer my thanks to Alan Flitcroft for taking the time and making the effort to attend the meeting. It was very much appreciated by all concerned.
Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust