Responses to questions from the CTSA on a wide range of issuesMembers of the club's board today met with Supporters Alliance board members Carol Bates and Mat Cowdrey at the club.
1. Club’s Financial Position and Ownership.
This was covered in depth at the latest fans’ forum on September 29.
The only change since then is that the Board have agreed to increase their funding to underwrite losses, taking the total to more than £800k so far this season.
This includes a further sum in the last week to enable the manager to bring in 2-3 quality loan signings.
As an overview, the Board are committed to trying to make the club self-financing. Revenue from commercial sponsorship, functions, hospitality and catering and retail is at the highest levels in the club’s history. However, this has been offset by a reduction in attendances and the increased costs associated with operating a Football League club.
The club remains extremely grateful for the ongoing financial support of its main Far East-based benefactor and the board, but they are not prepared to increase their level of funding to enable the club to compete at a level higher than League One unless gates increase to an average of between 3,500-4,000 and the people of Crawley get behind their Football League club in greater numbers than at present.
Like every club, at the start of the season our ambition was to try and reach the play-offs and, while this is still the aim of the management and players, based on current attendances our priority has to be to ensure we remain competitive at our current level, at least until our proposed new stadium plans come to fruition and we can use that as a basis from which to push the club forward.
The club remains debt-free.
2. Attendances and Fan Initiatives
Falling gates are not a problem exclusive to Crawley Town but it is a major concern.
This season the attendance figure declared does not include an average of approx. 450 Junior Reds season ticket holders who did not attend each game last season but who were included in the published attendance.
In addition, there has been a fall in the average number of away fans attending, although we expect this to increase with larger away followings likely in the second half of the season. In previous seasons, a visit to a new ground attracted fans from even less well-supported clubs to come to Crawley. This is no longer the case. The novelty value has worn off.
That might also apply to home fans in our third season in League One, a division this year predominantly made up of clubs from the north and midlands.
This season we have launched six ticket initiatives: Flexi 8, Bring A Friend, Family Tickets, Junior Reds tickets, Buy Tickets in Town and Junior Clubs tickets. Family Tickets are becoming popular and we are encouraged with the response to Junior Clubs’ ticket package. The others have had very little take up.
When promoting the ticket initiatives we try to keep associated costs (advertising etc.) down to a minimum, although we do feel these offers are promoted well.
We are willing to listen to any supporter who has an idea which he think will get more people to watch Crawley Town, especially new supporters, or who would help the club promote our existing ticket offers.
We make no excuse for promoting offers to families and young fans. There might not be any great short-term gain but feel there will be long-term benefit in helping make the next generation of Crawley football fans supporters of their local League team.
3. Fan Engagement
We have already held one successful forum with the manager and board members on September 29.
This week, with the help of ctfc.net, we are launching a ‘Ask The Club’ thread whereby supporters who read the fans’ forum can get questions answered direct by the club, although it is made clear in the thread that confidential information will not be disclosed nor dialogue on the team and players entered into.
Michael Dunford runs monthly surgeries for fans and is always happy to meet any supporter to discuss issues relating to the club outside of surgery days.
We are planning to run live Q&A sessions with Michael Dunford and the manager in the new year on the website.
We always respond to any supporter who makes an enquiry to the club, via letter, email or in person within 7 days, as per the terms of the club's Customer Charter.
4. Recent Run of Form
The Board, benefactor and staff share the frustrations of every Crawley Town fan. We are all passionate supporters and all want the team to be at the top of the table and challenging for the play-offs.
There is still time with less than half the fixtures played and we are unbeaten in our last four league games. There are nine teams in the division who would prefer to be in our position and considering the size of our infrastructure and that we are likely to have the lowest average attendance in League One perhaps our position is not as bad as it might appear.
As publicised last week, the Board and benefactor have made funds available to the manager to bring in loan players to give the squad fresh impetus.
5. Transfer Listing of Five Players
This is a matter for John Gregory and the team management and his reasons for transfer-listing five players were made public on November 13. John’s decision has the full support of the Board and benefactor.
6. Board Support for the Manager
We are aware that some supporters feel there should be a change of manager. John Gregory has the full support of the Board and will continue to do so until either he or the Board decide a change of manager is the best option open for the future prosperity of Crawley Town FC.
7. Future Meetings
We are happy to meet with CTSA board members at regular intervals, as is currently the case, and meetings between Michael Dunford and Carol Bates, chair of CTSA, will take place on a regular basis to discuss day-to-day issues.