United’s chief executive Nigel Clibbens confirmed at last week’s media briefing that the club is looking to build up a network of business people who can help the club with a range of projects as the press asked if there was any significance in local businessman Kevin Dobinson being present in the director’s box at recent games.
“We have business people from around the city who are involved in the club all the time,” he said. “We’re grateful for the support and we have a number who dip in and help on specific projects.
“Kevin Dobinson is one of that group and he’s been in the director’s box a couple of times, along with many other people. These people help commercially, which we know we’re trying to improve on, so for instance we had some guys help us with the golf day, and that was fantastic.
“It’s a good group of people, and we’re trying to increase that number, who will be there to provide support and assistance as and when it’s called upon.”
On how the commercial department is currently working, with Jenny Anderson heading things up, he explained: “At the outset, when Phil King moved on, we said we’d review the way we were structured to see whether it worked for us or not.
“Part of that review has resulted in where we are now. We were always open-minded and, in the past, Jenny has done really well in this role. She’s back in it and we’re now going flat out in that area.
“Maybe it’s taken a bit longer than it was hoped, but we’ve now got it sorted and we’re pushing on.
“Now that we have restructured commercially there are a whole host of commercial opportunities we’ll be looking at to help to bring money into the club. We’re open to everything, including stadium naming rights or any other kind of support or sponsorship.”
On the stadium cleaning schedule
“We’ve been honest right from the start about the challenges this stadium brings and how, in the past, we’ve maybe sacrificed it to try to give as much resource as possible to things on the field,” he said. “We wanted to even that up a bit because looking after this stadium is a really difficult challenge. We’re not hiding from that and we’ve done a lot of painting and decorating work over the course of the summer.
“It possibly goes unnoticed because of the scale of the task, but it’s been done. On top of that we’ve done work on drains, roofs and other areas which are often out of the fans’ eye, so they don’t get to see what goes on.
“The bits they did see [at the Bradford game] obviously got some criticism, but we did have plans in place to sort them. In hindsight we could have sorted out the away end before that game, that was a mistake on our part. It wouldn’t have fixed the roof, but we could have cleaned it a bit better. Hopefully fans have seen that has now been dealt with.
“Perceptions are important, we completely get that, but our focus was on getting the areas of the ground which were open to a decent standard. It was always going to be a ‘right to the wire’ situation with the amount of work that needs to be done to keep on top of these things. “The important thing is that we are doing it and we recognise that we need to improve the standard of the facilities our fans use. That’s why we’ve done a lot in places like the Sunset Suite, simply because we want to make things better wherever we can.
“Obviously it can be perceived that we have been reactive, but unless you publish the list of planned works to show something was actually on the list, you can get accused of that.
“The fans aren’t daft, they know the issues. We’re the same, we come to work every day and we see the issues around the stadium. We prioritise what we think we need to work on, but it will always be the case that these things will run to the wire.
“The important thing that’s changing is that we’re making a concerted effort to look at these issues on an ongoing basis.”