In the second update from the club’s April press conference chief executive Nigel Clibbens and CUOSC director Jim Mitchell discussed the first team manager situation and CUOSC’s role in establishing better lines of communication.
Is it right to say a decision on the manager will be taken at the end of the season?
We said we’d make decisions when we knew where we were going to finish this season. That hasn’t changed. Saturday’s result makes it more difficult for us to reach the play-offs, but nothing can be ruled out at this stage. We’ve got everything to play for and we always felt that we needed to be on 72 points to give ourselves a chance. That means we need 12 more, so that’s four more wins. We know we’re running out of breathing space, but we’ll continue to push on.
Reading between the lines would it be right in thinking that should we get into the play-offs it will increase the chances of a new deal, and if we don’t it will increase the chances that he won’t?
We’re going to look at things over the whole period, as we would have had we known where we were going to finish two months ago. You make the assessment on the longer-term, both on where you’ve been, where you are at that point, and where you might go for in the future. I think it’s only right that everybody has the opportunity to see the job through. Clubs often make decisions when they’re in a dip, which leads to managers leaving in the hope that things turn round, and it doesn’t happen. Similarly if you make your decisions on a high, you can live to regret it as well. We’ll take a balanced view and give everybody the chance to go as far as we can go.
Is anything concrete on a budget for the manager?
Budgets are a big priority for us at this stage of the year. We generally reforecast what our current year is after we’ve finished with cup competitions, because you get a better view of where you’re going to end up. The rest of the income is broadly fixed, so you can reassess based on that. Off the back of that you can then forecast into next year. We have a view as we are now, and season tickets are on sale and they have an impact on funds as we head into the summer. We hope there’ll be a good take-up and the signs are encouraging. Sales are as they were at the same stage last year, which is pleasing. You tend to finalise the budget after the season has finished because there is much more certainty of your income. We’re in the process of doing commercial contract renewals, which also helps, and the final thing that can have an impact is your opposition. Once you know who is in your league next season you can form a better view on what type and size of away attendances you will get.
Will the budget be increased for next season?
What we need to do is learn the lessons of the last two or three seasons in terms of spending. The club has a history of losing significant amounts of money. We have the challenges in the stadium we’ve talked about, and we have to decide where our priorities are and what the balance is. All of these factors will dictate where we go next season. We’re reaching an important time in things, so no matter what income or costs we have, we first have to form a view on whether the strategies we’ve been employing in the past have worked. From that we can decide if they can continue.
At what point do you envisage you’ll have made a decision on what the priorities are?
That will be very early in May, or as soon as the last ball is kicked. It’s a bit of a moving project, and it can change depending on where you finish in the league, and things like that.
Do you anticipate having the manager situation resolved before the awards dinner?
We’d look to sort and make clear the position as soon as possible after we know where we are. We’d look to avoid the player contract situation dragging on as well. We have the fall-back position of the third Saturday in May, but we will look to act as quickly as we possibly can after we know where we’re going to finish.
Is the club comfortable with fees paid to agents during the last reporting period?
We do everything we can to keep the fees we pay as low as we can. That’s one table we are happy to be in the middle or even at the bottom of. We do appreciate that agents need to be involved on occasions and that they have to be paid for. It’s unavoidable, so it then comes down to getting value for the money you spend.
What is top of the CUOSC agenda?
JM - We’re involved in the stadium discussions and, as Nigel has said, we need a resolution to that issue. We want to see the club communicate more openly and honestly with the fans, and that process has started. They are amongst our main aims.
Are CUOSC communicating enough - there have only been two tweets on Twitter since March?
JM - We could probably be doing more on Twitter and on other social media outlets. However, we do have a number of channels of communication. The local newspaper has our column every Thursday, we have our weekly updates to members, we have the surgery each home game and we produce one-off media statements as required. People can contact myself and Billy Atkinson directly, so that’s a fair spread of channels of communication. I know people want us to say more, but we aren’t going to come out of the boardroom and spill the beans. However, if we do have something to say, we say it. We could always do more, but we’re not backwards at coming forwards.
A recent message had just one line about addressing the main issues. What was the point of that update? Is that good enough for your members?
JM - That part of the update was a summary of our board meeting. We knew the issues we were discussing were of the type we couldn’t put in the public domain, for justifiable reasons, therefore we kept our statement limited. It’s a double-edged sword with having directors at the club because it comes with responsibility, but it also gives us an opportunity to directly influence the major issues and decisions. We aren’t in the club’s pocket, but we are part of the club. That brings the constraints we’ve talked about, but it also brings the advantages I’ve highlighted. We certainly aren’t afraid to raise issues to try to get the club to be more ‘fancentric’ and we believe the best way forward is to work with the club.