Dozens of Trust members took advantage of the chance to ask questions to the club’s Chief Executive, Gethin Jenkins, at our routine meeting with the club. Trust Chair, Tim Hartley, and fellow Board members, Phil Nifield, Tracey Marsh and David Craig met Gethin and his team on Monday evening to put your questions directly to them. Here is a round up of the answers they gave us.
We asked the club what it was doing to reduce or eliminate so called ‘bubble trips’ to away matches. It was noted that the recent game at Coventry was Cardiff City’s first police free away game for 30 years. The club also opposed the recent bubble trip to Bristol but reluctantly had to agree. It is worth noting that these kinds of trips are linked to the behaviour of fans, and that we are still paying the price for poor behaviour in the past. Therefore going forward the club is looking for agreed exit plans with the visited club and police based on good behaviour following a bubble trip to their football ground.
Members expressed their concern that there have been leaks of sensitive information from the club to internet message boards. The club is aware of ‘so-called’ leaks but says just because its presented as fact doesn’t mean it is and that fans should actually look at what is being said and question if it is really true or just speculation or gossip being presented as fact. Some people may be posting on message boards to push a particular agenda and the club says it will not comment on speculation and rumour.
We also received a question raising concern at the relationship between Dave Jones and the local media. This is an ongoing issue but the club says it still maintains a good relationship with most reporters and media outlets in South Wales. For example, it worked very closely with the Echo recently to provide 150 free tickets to the youth club in Merthyr Tydfil which had been broken into.
We asked the club about its long and short term finances. The Langston debt was not repaid by the end of last year but the club says talks are ongoing as regards this debt. We asked whether the club’s day to day income was sufficient to cover operating costs. The club says it could not go into details as this information was commercially sensitive. However, it did say that income and outgoings will change from month to month so a simple calculation like this is not possible.
In answer to a question about nominating other people to use season tickets when you can’t attend a match, the club says there is no problem with doing this, though there may be an issue if you have a concessionary ticket. Some people have been trying to use children’s tickets to get into the Family Stand but the light system shows stewards inside the ground what kind of ticket you have. If you have a child or senior citizens season ticket you can go to the Ticket Office before the game and ‘upgrade’ it for that single match by paying the difference. You can do this well in advance of the game itself.
The away section is often not full and the club could be losing money on unsold tickets which could go to home fans. A Trust member suggested that a flexible partition could allow the club to increase the number of tickets for home fans and maximise revenues. The club says that if it did allow more home fans in that area there could still be an issue as the concourse would still be shared by both sets of fans. A serious amount of work is needed to allow for such flexibility but they are looking at the feasibility of doing this.
Cardiff City Stadium
There are likely to be further developments in and around the ground over the coming months. One member suggested we have a ‘Next Fixture’ display board erected near the stadium to advertise football and rugby fixtures. The club says it hopes to place the boards, similar to the ones we used to have at Ninian Park, either side of the memorial gates on Sloper Road by the start of next season. It was also suggested that the club should get high powered artificial lights to help the grass grow inside our stadium. This equipment apparently costs some £300,000 and the cost is simply prohibitive at the moment. You know, we ask this question every time we meet the club so I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Members have asked about the inconsistent quality of food at the ground and the lack of choice. The general standard of food is monitored but of course the quality of chips or whatever is a subjective matter and can depend on what time you get to the kiosk. Baguettes were trialled in some sections of the ground but the suppliers say that a football crowd is pretty conservative and most of us actually prefer pies and pasties! The club says it does offer a fruit option to children in the Family Stand.
The queue for food at half time in the Ninian Stand is also a concern as it goes back towards the outer wall and stops the free passage of people along the concourse and in and out of the toilets. The club has trialled new barriers in the away section, which seem to have helped this problem and they hope to put similar barriers under the Ninian stand soon.
A number of people have been asking about progress on the memorial garden at the stadium. Wayne Nash told us that this is the wrong time of the year to be conducting any ground works but that work will get underway during the summer and the fenced garden and seating should be ready by Armistice Day this year. The garden will be located near where the old gates stand opposite Ninian Park. Fred Keeenor’s original headstone has been refurbished and will be placed in the garden and supporters will have a chance to help with the planting at the start of the new season.
One member saw money changing hands for parking spaces at the stadium on a match day. The club is happy to clear up any misunderstanding of this. There are 40 spaces left for diamond members on Level 3 and these unused places are sold on a first come first served basis on match days. Stewards are provided with tickets expressly for this purpose.
We asked the club whether bars around the ground could be named after famous City players. The club says that as we share the ground with the Blues it would be impossible to satisfy both sets of fans. However, they are prepared to consider the possibility of sponsorship for the bars if anyone wishing to sponsor a bar comes forward.
Another question which we regularly ask is why the club has no reserve team. Dave Jones made it clear during our open meeting in November that he was concerned at the quality of opposition we might hope to meet in any reserve league. There was also the possibility of top players getting further injuries in those games and he prefers to organise a suitable game when and as we need one.
Queuing outside the club shop on match days is an issue for some Trust members, particularly on wet and windy days. The club has an optimum number of fans it can get into the shop at any one time and there is a safety issue here, so please be patient as the stewards try to manage the numbers going in and coming out of the shop. There have been a number of promotions at the club shop recently, and we were reminded that Ambassadors get 10% off merchandise in the club shop all season long.
Plans to increase the take up of seats in the Premier Club could lead to congestion according to one of our members as ticket holders from level 3 and 4 meet for a drink before the match and at half time. The club says that the rooms were designed to meet the needs of all those seated outside and they have added blinds to screen off the windows to give additional capacity in the lounges. However, the offering on Level 3 and 4 is different and the prices charged reflect this.
The Trust has been working with the club on a scheme to build a permanent office for the Trust at the Cardiff City Stadium. This will be situated between entrances 5 and 6 and will allow Trust members to meet volunteers on match days to discuss any issues they have and for members to make suggestions as to what the Trust should be doing next. We hope to have the room ready by the end of this season.
We also had a chance at our meeting to thank the club for their support of the Trust over the last few months. We had a cracking open meeting with Tg and Dave Jones in November and they have been very supportive of the Trust’s work in the community and in fundraising for the Fred Keenor statue appeal. We hope to be able to arrange an evening with some of the current squad before the end of the season.
The Trust’s relationship with the club seems to be working well and I believe Gethin and his team understand the need to communicate to fans through your Supporters Trust. Let’s keep the questions coming and remember it’s your Trust, so get involved and help the Bluebirds fly even higher!