Trust Chair, Tim Hartley, and Board members, David Craig and Keith Morgan, met with Wayne Nash, Tom Gorringe, the new Supporter Liaison Officer, (SLO) and Julian Jenkins from the club last week to put your questions directly to them. We started off talking about, what else, but the playing kit. We asked whether there would be another poll on the shirt colour and why blue shorts had not been an option in the recent survey. We were categorically told this was not an option; the owner wants red and that is that.
However, there will be blue shirts this season, as one of the two ‘alternative’ kits produced for the team. The other colour is likely to be yellow. There is no official away strip and the club has made it clear that it will try to wear the red kit as often as possible, both home and away. Malky and the players will decide which of the blue and yellow kits to wear in the small number of cases where there is a clash of colours with a home team wearing red. The normal selling policy for replica shirts will continue and the sales ratio will be based on last year’s figures which was 15 Red /1 Blue /½ Black.
We were told that there are no plans for a compromise kit of red and blue which is disappointing. There will also be no vote on shirt colours as there was for the shorts. The good news is that both the non-red kits are likely to go on sale in August allowing supporters a choice of which one to buy at a far earlier date than was the case for last season. The club were keen to point out that there is no attempt to hold back the blue shirts and that they have never released both kits at the same time.
We asked what commercial benefits last season’s rebrand had brought. Though we were offered no firm figures we were told that we can expect news of a number of major commercial and sponsorship opportunities from Asia for next season. In Malaysia the club has been running a number of grassroots football projects and a delegation of players and staff will be visiting the country in the closed season. They want to develop Malaysia as what they call ‘City’s second home’. Julian talked about Asia rather than Malaysia and it appears that the club sees China as the biggest potential market. Apparently 96% of the total viewing of live Premier League football is outside the UK.
We were shown plans for the extension to the Stadium and also the club’s new training ground at Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan. Phase 1 of the extension relates to the Ninian Stand and will result in an increase of some 5,000 seats to raise the present ground capacity to approximately 32,500. The work will start as soon as planning permission is granted which will hopefully be in Sept/Oct 2013 and will be completed for the start of the 2014-15 season.
Further down the line phases 2 and 3 will extend both the Canton and Grangetown Stands by a further 2,500/3,000 seats (each stand,) giving the Cardiff City Stadium an overall capacity of 38.000.
Julian gave us a presentation on the new electronic display board around the inside of the stadium above the present highest row of seats. There will also be two new large screens. As well as featuring advertisements, the LED boards will have a number of interactive features.
The plans for the Club’s new training facilities at Henson are as impressive as those for the Stadium and it’s obvious the club wants to move fast to ensure Cardiff has all the facilities befitting a Premiership club. It was difficult to take it all in but we left the meeting impressed and excited by what we had seen. The club will arrange a presentation to fans of all of this work, so watch this space.
One member wrote to us to ask about away ticket allocation as there is a perception that coach operators are somehow given preference by the club when it comes to purchasing away tickets. Wayne told us that every supporter on an organized bus must qualify for an away ticket in the same way independent travellers do. Anyone can start organizing buses and if you do then you can join the regular Travel Club meetings to discuss arrangements. But independent travellers who attended the required number of away game last season will get equal priority for away tickets as the travel groups and there will be no need for them to join any organize bus party.
Last year many of us filled in the club’s online survey. Tom Gorringe said the results had been useful to the club but we were disappointed to hear that they will not be made public nor are there any plans to give us a presentation of the findings. The Fans Forum we were promised too seems to have gone by the by as well but Tom did say he will contact fans groups so that he can give us an overview of how he sees the role of the SLO developing at a meeting to be held next month. The approach to this new requirement by UEFA will differ from club to club bur Cardiff say they see it as an important role. We look forward to the meeting in July.
It’s a sign of the times or our success or whatever, but sadly there will be no room for supporters’ flags to be hung prominently inside the Cardiff City Stadium in the Premier League. The sponsors boards and advertising will be extended at the back of the stands and around the stadium in what looks like being an exciting development, so there will simply be no space for the likes of the Cwm, Rose and Crown or my own Adar Gleision flag next season.
We are keen to see the completion of the Memorial Garden. The club is receiving request from fans to install benches in memory of relatives and the Paul May, Eddie’s son, and Trust are hoping to plant a tree in the Garden in memory of him. Wayne told us that it is evolving all the time, that the plaque in memory of Simon Insole was a fitting tribute there and that all requests will be accommodated as best as they can.
I know we all want to know how much Malky has to spend on players over the summer. But they wouldn’t be drawn on that one, saying only that he was pleased with the funds on offer to him for the team. Some fans who cycle to home games have told us that there are not enough bike racks at the stadium. There are two, one outside the Ninian Stand and the other near the club shop, each accommodating some ten bikes. Wayne said the club would welcome more people cycling to matches and that they will increase the number of racks at the Stadium if there is sufficient demand.
The Premiership throws up a whole host of new issues for the club and there have been fears that seats would have to be taken out to accommodate Sky’s 3D cameras. A new gantry will be built for the television crews on the Grandstand side of the stadium but there will be no loss of seats. We were shown the new interview rooms hat have been built to accommodate all the foreign camera crews who will be visiting Cardiff next season. Some 50 fans will have to be relocated but only for a limited number of games when the game is shown in 3D.
We were concerned when we heard that the Academy Foundation had been disbanded but were glad to hear that the club is looking to relaunch a similar lottery scheme this season. We were also pleased to hear that the club has not allowed its trademark to lapse on both the name Cardiff City FC and the Bluebird logo as it had subsequently re-registered them both within the allowed time period after they had expired.
We were disappointed that Simon Lim, the Chief Executive, was not able to be present at the meeting, having advised us of his non-availability at short notice. This was the first formal meeting with the club since October last year and we believe that regular contact like this can only be a good thing not just for us the supporters, but also for the club itself. We are seeking a separate meeting now with Simon who will be forwarded questions on the club`s finances and corporate governance structure that those present at the meeting were not in a position to answer. We are also asking the club for a Players evening where we can talk to the players about life in Premiership. Fingers crossed.
We submitted a series of written questions to the club before the meeting and we are grateful for their answers to them, which are given below:
Will CCFC ticket prices for the coming season be at the lower end of the premiership scale compared to other clubs?
If so, can arrangements be made with other clubs directly or via Supporters Trust groups to enable CCFC away fans be charged the same price for the return away game?
No – Clubs will continue to charge what they determine. We have discussed with the Premier League but there is no change for 2013-14.
Will the seats and cladding turn red in the near future?
Not currently planned
I have a car park season ticket for Block B, and, last season, I had to arrive earlier and earlier to get a decent space. Many cars in Block B had no pass on display, or were for Block A, or tickets with “Staff – Block A” displayed. Most of these cars arrived before the stewards started work, but no one actually checks that I am parking in the right area. Is there anything you can do about this?
Staff passes including those issued to media will be further reduced for next season. It has proved extremely difficult to Stop Zone A permit holders from parking in Zone B and therefore it was decided to determine parking to be Zone A&B and avoid massively increasing cost (that would likely be further passed to our customers).
Does 15% of stadium capacity have to be given to away support?
No it is 10% (or 3,000 whichever is the lower) & therefore circa 2,700.
If so, to offset reduction in home support, will it be possible to install additional, temporary seating during the close season, in the gap between the back of the stand(s) and current back row of seating?
There has been an amount of work undertaken to allow flexibility in away allocations. We are also aiming to put in some additional seats but these will not be behind the back of the stand. We also continue to make exceptional progress with Vincent Tan’s plan to extend the Ninian Stand.
What can you do about traffic after matches leaving onto Leckwith Road? Members have asked for a steward or police officer.
Fans will have to continue to use crossings provided and wait to cross where necessary. Overall, further support in this area is difficult because we must keep this vital road moving and it is also off Footprint and is not deemed the responsibility of the Club. Accepting it as ‘on footprint’ presents a multitude of issues relating to charges by the Police and City Council.
Why has the parking charge at the ground gone up from £130 to £149 for the coming season even though there are fewer games?
This is due to the fact that we were determined to continue to provide great value parking. Please benchmark us against other clubs & I’m sure you will not find any on stadia parking at less than £8 per game. There will be no increase considered next year.
Will you be offering a concession to disabled people wanting to park at the stadium?
The policy of not offering a concession to disabled persons will be continued.
Tim Hartley, Trust Chair