After the formal business of the Trust AGM had been completed (report and slides to follow) , the Football Club Chairman Andrew Howard answered a variety of questions from audience. Here is a summary of those questions and answers.
Q1: A hostess in the Woodlands Suite has recently resigned, are you able to explain the reason?
A1: (AH) It would be wrong to discuss individual staff matters in a public forum, but I will make enquiries to understand the reasons.
Q2: If there were surplus cash, would there be sufficient to recover all or part of the Training Ground?
A2: (AH) There is no obvious benefit to the Club regaining ownership of the Training Ground, whilst there are other areas of the Club that require investment, particularly since the Club enjoys a preferential rent arrangement for a period that best suits the Club.
Q3: Are we benefiting from having Reading FC use Adams Park?
A3: (AH) Yes, revenue has gone some way to offsetting the reduction in income following Wasps’ departure and the arrangement will continue to be reviewed to ensure that the pitch is not adversely affected
Q4: What are the Club’s thoughts on how to increase attendances beyond the current average of ~3,500?
A4: (AH) The Club considers the current average gate to be poor, given that it exists within a 176k catchment area. Whilst the team’s current performance should go some way to improving attendance it appreciates that we need to do more to encourage the local community and to that end, 350 youngsters were invited to the Hartlepool game and it is currently working with local schools to generate interest.
Q5: What are the plans to introduce ‘everyday’ merchandise into the Club Shop?
A5: (AH) We have just signed off a range of products in time for Christmas. It should be noted that, under the arrangement with O’Neills, all profit from the shop now comes directly into the Club.
Q6: Is there any possibility of the Club Shop being reinstated in the Eden Centre?
A6: (AH) Pop Up shops are a great idea. Unfortunately, we can’t do that in time for Christmas, but we will consider the possibility in the New Year. We would probably need to staff such a facility with volunteers.
Q7: A comment, rather than a question, the real ale corner in the Caledonian Suite is a great success and food is also good.
A7: (AH) Away fans spend 3 times as much as home fans! We are constantly looking to improve our product and its’ delivery to fans so your comment and constructive feedback is appreciated
Q8: Is there likely to be any financial recognition by the EFL of the status of Trust Owned Clubs?
A8: (AH) No, the EFL does not take account of the detail of ownership, providing such ownership satisfies the EFL’s standards.
Q9: The 500 Club, requires that fans invest £12.50 pm, what difference would raising £75k make?
A9: (AH) Gareth manages his playing budget very well. Having that kind of sum made available to him would allow him to extend the contracts of those loan players that he is very keen to retain.
Q10: Has the EFL been able to explain the fixture setting process which, for instance, sees us having only one home league fixture in December?
A10: (AH) We make regular submission to the EFL and resist requests from other Clubs for rearrangements that are not in our own best interests, but find it very difficult to achieve change with the EFL where fixture rules are concerned.
Q11: Have there been any lessons learnt for the Jordan Ibe deal?
A11: (AH) There have been lessons learnt by both the EFL and ourselves and it is likely that our experience will result in the EFL restructuring certain aspects of transfer rules
Q12: What is the Club’s view on the Checkatrade Trophy?
A12: (AH) It works for us, those members of the squad who might not always start or who are returning from injury get a chance to play. Winning earns significant financial reward and it is a better mechanism for developing U21 talent
Q13: If the Checkatrade Trophy is seen to be a success, will it lead to B teams appearing in our League?
A13: (AH) No, the EFL has abandoned the concept of the Whole Game Solution. The majority of Clubs in L1 and 2 would have voted against it anyway
Q14: Is the Club able to influence the current standard of refereeing?
A14: (AH) The Club has made and will continue to make its’ views known
Q15: The Club no longer publicizes its’ matches or events within the town, what can be done?
A15: (AH) The use of social media to publicise the Club is more cost effective and is now common practice across all businesses and we continue to develop partnerships that will further improve that practice.
Q16: Could you explain the revised lottery scheme?
A16: (AH) The aim is, in common with a number of other Clubs, to move to a web-based system. All profits will still come back into the Club.
Q17: With the renaming of the Caledonian Suite, what type of tartan can we expect J?
A17: (AH) Whilst we have a good deal in place with Heineken, it doesn’t require us to lay a new carpet!
Q18: What playing squad protection do we have if we lose any of the loan players?
A18: (AH) The Club is already working very hard to retain those players currently on loan to us
Q19: There is a fan who believes that our Chairman already owns the Club, is that true?
A19: (AH) I cannot be more vocal on the fact that I do not own the Club!