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CHIEF EXEC: There has been a lot going on

Part one of a three-part December update

2 December 2021

In the first part of a December update from chief executive Nigel Clibbens, he brings us up to date on a range of operational off-the-pitch topics.

Match Previews

PREVIEW: Shrewsbury

3 December 2021

It has been a very busy time and we have a lot going on behind the scenes.

Club initiatives:

The EFL Family Excellence award feedback is expected soon following completion of the first inspection visit. It assesses our match day fan experience covering ticketing, retail, catering and communications.

The club is to be benchmarked on its position as part of EFL Green Code.

Click HERE for more details on that.

This will then be used to improve our carbon footprint.

EFL has launched a new EFL Diversity Standard for clubs. It is aimed at promoting best practice in the areas of inclusion, equality and diversity. The Fan Led Review recommends clubs take action in this area. Our ongoing initiatives are progressing as detailed below.

Our community initiative with Kick it Out and the FSA called ‘My Club My Shirt’ is drawing to a close. There will be a display at Tullie House and then a permanent display in the East Stand.

Click HERE for details on 'My Club My Shirt'.

A new partnership with Anti-Racism Cumbria has been launched.

Click HERE for more on our partnership with ARC.  

Match Previews

MATCH UPDATE: Shrewsbury

3 December 2021

We supported its summit recently. They were guests at the Walsall game and as a result we had a new group of nearly 50 young children and new families at a CUFC game for the first time, as part of our Community Ticket Scheme.

The Hunted TV show is to donate to our Community Ticket Scheme following filming on site, which helps us to do more work to encourage new fans.

In late September an NHS Vaccine bus visited to help increase community take-up and fight Covid.

Click HERE for more information on that activity.

A cancer screening clinic is on site in November to support an NHS trial.

Click HERE for more information on the screening unit.

A new partnership with Her Game Too [click HERE for more information] is to be launched shortly, along with a tie up with Cumbria Pride.

All of these initiatives help the club reach out to the community as we look to play a positive part with other groups.

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Fan Led Review:

We continue to input into Fair Game (https://www.fairgameuk.org) to promote change in the game as part of the Government Fan Led Review. The FLR report is now out. 

It is potentially a huge step forward for football governance and for a sustainable game. Realising that potential is what now counts, and we must avoid the work becoming shelved and having no impact.

The impact depends on the implementation and on turning the proposals and recommendations into real change. We need the Government and the football establishment to step up. Will they? Time will tell.

A number of the recommendations directly affect CUFC, and the issues we are dealing with, in particular ownership change. While none are a surprise, they continue the trend for far tougher regulation and ownership scrutiny that started in early 2019 with the failure of Bury FC.

Its key recommendations include:

Governance and regulation

  • Club licencing and a new independent regulation by called IREF.
  • Intervention by IREF into clubs who are in trouble. This is new, but something I have called on for a long time. How much intervention and when remains to be seen.
  • Further changes on equality, diversity and inclusion, and obligations on clubs to have action plans in this area (this links to EFL Diversity standard).
  • Fans being allowed to drink in view of the pitch, as they are in other sports. The police can be expected to resist this very strongly. Trials are recommended, but fan behaviour will be huge in demonstrating trust in this area is well placed.

Sustainability

  • Calls for the PFA to help fix problems with player contracts and help cost control. The PFA has a new CEO and it has a big role to play in helping clubs to be financially sustainable.
  • Nothing is certain on a new and fairer distribution of game wealth down the pyramid yet. This is a long way from being resolved. We will continue to make representations through ‘Fair Game’ to implement the recommendations of the FLR, especially on a fair distribution of income for the pyramid.

Ownership

  • Tougher owner and director tests and ongoing tests, not just for those owners joining as new investors. This will directly impact CUFC in future as part of our own club ownership.
  • Longer and stronger funding commitments from new investors. Confirmed funding for three years (not ‘two complete seasons’) is recommended. Again, this will directly impact CUFC in future as part of our own club ownership. Any new owner would need to be ready for this.
  • Guaranteed funding up front to underpin spending plans, not promises of cash later. The detail is to be confirmed. 

Club control

  • Veto rights for fans on specific decisions. This is new – but in reality, we already have this in place at CUFC because of 25% fan ownership.
  • ‘Shadow fan boards’ and involvement in club decisions. We already have the substance of this recommendation in place at CUFC because of two CUOSC directors and CUSG.
  • More engagements with fans by clubs. We already do very well here in many areas as evidenced by independent benchmarking, but the specific obligations on controlling/owners could be raised.

This is another area that directly impacts CUFC in future as part of our own club ownership.

Overall, the FLR could yet lead to seismic change in the way football is going to be governed. Of course, we need to make sure we preserve the good things, the great successes and strengths of English football. And we need to be careful of unintended consequences.

Premier League are already preparing the battle lines on funding, and has said the EFL’s request for 25% of all pooled broadcast revenue, an uplift of some £400m, would be 'a disaster'.

There are so many vested interests in maintaining ‘no or little financial change’, the FLR has so far just ‘kicked that can down the road’ again. It remains the toughest problem and one where I don’t expect to see change for some time. Without sorting this out, the other things will have no real impact on sustainability.

We will provide more thoughts on the possible implications for CUFC when the detail becomes clearer, but financial change looks as far away as ever.


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