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CHIEF EXEC: Fan initiatives, catering and finances

January update from CEO Nigel Clibbens

12 January 2022

Following on from December's comprehensive update, chief executive Nigel Clibbens has provided an update as we head into the new year.

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Click HERE to read the December update.  

The latest update is as follows: 

Fan initiatives:

  • New Sunset Suite vinyl window wraps are on order. More memorabilia from CUSG is to be installed. The room has been recarpeted and will be redecorated in Q1 of 2022.
  • Sporting Inn project is almost complete, with just the final naming and dedication to be arranged.
  • My Club My Shirt display area will be in the East Stand concourse. Further details will be provided by CUOSC.
  • A rare 92/93 white away shirt with red and blue waves has been stolen from the East Stand display – we ask that if any fans are offered one for sale, they should contact the club, as it is easily identifiable due to distinctive marks.
  • Options for a semi-permanent fan marquee on the west side, to add to the Fan Zone, are being progressed with CUOSC.
  • Club is supporting London Branch with memorabilia to commemorate Roma 50 – tshirts on sale, mugs to follow.
  • CEO to meet London Branch members before the Orient away game for Q&A.
  • Fan mural refitted immediately after Storm Arwen.
  • Two of the fan-funded large banners have been re-erected at the back of the Warwick Road End.
  • Playing shirt amnesty launched – donation points are in the Blues Store and East stand upstairs ticket office/reception, to hand back old shirts for reuse. Shirts have already been handed in. Please support a good cause. Click HERE for more information.
  • EFL Family Excellence Award feedback has been received from independent assessors making their first anonymous inspection. They marked us at seventh in League Two and 28th in the EFL. The report was very positive and offered a number of recommendations. Click HERE for more information. 
  • New partnership with Her Game Too has been launched. Click HERE for more information. 
  • Foodbank collection held at the Bradford game. Click HERE for more information. 
  • The Cumbria Pride bucket collection for the Bradford game was cancelled due to Covid concerns. A new date for the collection is to be agreed and will be advertised once finalised. Click HERE for more information.
  • The club was due to support homeless charity Shelter's 'No Home Kit' campaign at our home game against Rochdale on Boxing Day. Following the postponement this will now take place at a future home game, when we will be wearing the black away kit. Click HERE for more information. 
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Catering and hospitality:

  • Take up of the Catering APP launched for pre-purchased food and drink in bars and kiosks is low – fans are encouraged to download to pre-order for click and collect, and use cashless payment. Download HERE.
  • Further roll-out of cashless payment is being planned to improve speed of service and reduce queuing time.
  • The Sponsor’s lounge has now been fully reopened after redecoration, with new flooring and TV. It is in full use on match day as a private room and for hire non-match day. It gives 20% additional capacity to meet growing match day hospitality demand after previously being closed for some time.
  • A second six-monthly fan feedback survey of catering is to be launched (following up on the first one from June 2021) in January to assess the changes made, and gain fan feedback. 

Finances:

We must continue to be a self-funded club, day-to-day. We must pay for our football spending, including funding our recovery in the league and the January window, from our own cash, not third-party money. This model remains unchanged after the ending of takeover talks, and in practice has been the case since before 2019.

This financial model makes our financial position and prospects important, especially as we are now in the transfer window. It is important fans understand this, and that can only be the case if we are open and transparent as possible about the realities we face. This is also important to counter the misinformation, inaccurate reports and hearsay that fans can pick up and come to believe, especially on social media.

I therefore continue to consistently and honestly lay out the financial facts of the club, no matter what is happening on or off-the-pitch.

Half year trading to 31 December 2021:

  • Overall, we have a earned a net profit of £0.4m in the first six months, driven by £0.45m from player sales and £166k from an additional unexpected, exceptional Premier League grant.
  • At this stage this profit is expected to become an overall estimated full year forecast loss of circa £0.4m, by the year end. This estimate is subject to a number of income and costs uncertainties in the second half of the year.
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Business:

Looking at the individual business activities of the club so far, over six months:

  • We have earned £175k from season tickets (which is expected to become circa £350k for the full year). This is unchanged from the last ‘normal’ season unaffected by Covid.
  • Match ticket income is £325k so far. This is better than budgeted and proving resilient as fans continue to back the team – as also shown by the gate numbers. The final year expectation is circa £575k, but is driven by on-field performance, support and Covid in the remainder of the year. No ticket system issues have been suffered and a normal reliable service has resumed after the initial early season IT outages.
  • Retail continues to be strong with sales to 31 December being the best since 16/17.
  • Catering operations are now profitable. It is a priority to increase catering income in the second half of the year. New ideas to improve further, and feedback, are still most welcome.
  • Commercial income remains challenging. Overall, commercial is recovering slowly after the Covid lockdown.
  • Hospitality bookings are improving and encouraging with new capacity now in place after the reopening of the Sponsor’s Lounge.
  • IFollow subscriber numbers remain good. We will update separately.
  • Business costs and overheads are increasing. We are now incurring significant additional extra stewarding costs on match days to deal with potential fan safety issues and Covid. As I indicated before, this is taking much needed cash that can be better spent elsewhere, and increases the ongoing trading loss. Stadium costs are up again due to power costs and spending on repairs and renewals.
  • Football spending is up due to a 20% increase approved in June last year, as we invested in the squad in the last window. Further increases will follow after the January window as the club supports Keith Millen. Again, this support was committed in the Holdings statement on takeover, and again in the special CUSG meeting minutes.
  • Football Fortune income: We have earned £0.45m income in the first half of 21/22 from player sales. We have earned just £0.1m from EFL Papa John’s Trophy prize money and cup games. Without the Trophy prize money our cup income would be minimal this year. This cup cash is important to help pay bills and fund player recruitment.

Exceptional items: We will receive circa £0.33m of additional Premier League grant support in 21/22 (with £166k received in the first half year). However, we have unplanned exceptional costs from higher Covid compliance, Covid postponements and the costs from a change of manager.

Part two of this update will be on the official website on Thursday 13 January.


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