In the second part of our press conference coverage from last week, the subjects covered are the Brunton Park stadium and the January transfer window budget.
You said before Christmas that you hoped to have an announcement on the stadium. Where are we with that?
NC - We’ve had a couple of good meetings, but I don’t want to go into too much detail, because what’s happened in the past is that things have possibly raced too far ahead when they’ve been in the early stages. The meetings we’ve had have allowed us to discuss what we need to do and there’s a bit of a direction for where we’re going. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to put more flesh on the bones in a month’s time. There are things happening and, as the new boy in all of this, to me it’s been quite encouraging. I think the thing fans need to know is that CUOSC are participating actively, so they’re coming along to these meetings and they’re sitting round the table when we’re talking about what needs to be done.
How much of a burden is the current stadium financially?
SK – You have to prioritise what you need to do as and when situations arise. There is obviously a list of things you would like to do, but we have to take a longer-term view on it. For example, does the investment in the stadium pay off across the time you’re going to get out of it, or are you going to be able to use that money better elsewhere. Needs against wants is sometimes a difficult balance.
There seems to be a bit of a need in the Warwick Road End with part of it cordoned off and the roof leaking? I guess that’s one of things that demonstrates what’s happening at Brunton Park?
SK – The stadium is old, we all know that, and it’s a bit of a mish-mash of things that have been put together over time. The Warwick has been highlighted for a couple of years – and we have a huge inspection every summer which further highlights areas where the need to carry out work goes from amber to red. They obviously then get prioritised accordingly. We had a period of time where the EWM Stand was closed for the roof to be replaced, and it took longer than anticipated because quite often when you dig into these old stadiums you find that it’s actually a bigger job that’s required. We’ll have the same with the Warwick. We’ll need a period of time where we close it off so that we can assess what needs to be done. It’s a case of crossing as many things off what is a lengthy list as we can.
PK – It is a bit of jigsaw that we’re working on around the ground and we have to sort the priorities as things happen. That means we have to reconsider our list and we do work closely with some of our sponsors, such as World Group, who helped to refurbish the catering facilities in the summer. We’re waiting for a bit of half decent weather so that we can resolve the Warwick Road issue, because the bad weather has held us back on that.
January Transfer Window
Nigel has already talked about the fact the club looks like it could be losing money this year, as it has in the past, but everyone in the fan base is talking about how much there’ll be to spend in the January transfer window. How unique in business are football clubs?
SK – It is a unique industry and within that there are particular things which only apply to us. That’s everything from the regulations we work within to the different streams of income we get, and how that comes into the club. We always talk about football fortune and how huge that is to a club like ours. We start our forecasting in April for the next season and, at that point, you can’t make any assumptions about what the fortune income will be. That’s why when you get towards January you know the outcome of the three cup competitions, or you’re still involved in some of them. That can bring changes which give you extra funds to play with when it comes to player transfers.
We are well into January now, so how close are you and the manager to knowing what he may or may not be able to do in the transfer window?
NC – We have ongoing discussions, so we know within a reasonable amount, at any point in time, where we are in terms of available finances. A big game or a big cup draw changes things, but we all know roughly where we are all the time. That allows Keith to have his preliminary discussions with players and agents, and that’s been happening for this window since early December. Keith has been given an absolute minimum figure of new cash that has been made available, so he’s able to deal within that, which he is working on right now. He’s talked about wheeling and dealing himself and, if he does that, it will add to what’s available. The replay at Hillsborough won’t provide much cash, given the likely attendance and entry prices on the night. That means there is no ‘big win’ there just yet, but if we were to get through it’s absolutely massive for us. It could mean hundreds of thousands of pounds to us. If we win then there’s £67,000 prize money and another home tie, which could be worth another £50,000 or so. That means winning could be worth £100,000, but the game in itself is not going to be a big pay day. It is very fluid, but we have the minimum amount that we know about right now. It’s new money, it’s there, and it’s now down to the manager to decide how best to spend it. We’re ready to make signings if the manager does identify a player he wants to bring in.
Is there scope for some players to leave, even though it has been said that we aren’t in a position where players have to move on?
NC – That’s a football decision so we’ll support that Keith in what he wants to do with that. The key from a club point of view is that we have to give as much resource as we can to the manager to help him to do the best job that he can. How he chooses to do that is up to him.
Was there any way you could have had these discussions prior to the window opening to give the manager more of a head start?
NC – Nothing in the way we’ve done this affects our January dealings in any way. I haven’t seen us lose out on a player because of it.
On the subject of the transfer window budget, there was something referred to as non-returnable cash donations in a period since September. What would that be referring to?
NC – It’s a bit complicated, I suppose, but we run a lottery, and it is separate to the football club. It’s a completely different entity, with different governance, and it includes the Golden Gamble and things like that. The cash from that comes as donations to the club every month, so that’s what that is.