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Paul Baker Q&A

1 January 2014

Cheltenham Town chairman Paul Baker has been answering fans questions in a recent matchday programme.

Cheltenham Town chairman Paul Baker took time out recently to answer some fan questions in a recent matchday programme.

Thank you to everyone who took part and sent a question in. You can now read this programme feature here on www.ctfc.com below.

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I have followed the Robins since the late 60's and marvel at the progress the club has made in the intervening years but being based in Dorset, I regret I am only able to get to a home game very infrequently. My observation is that the town of Cheltenham and the game of football remain at best lukewarm to each other with crowds hovering around 2,500 - 3,500.
I am interested to know exactly what is being done to attract alternative income streams to make the club a stand alone sustainable business.(Simon Bowes, Dorset)

Hi Simon,

What an excellent question which goes right to the heart of what the club must do to ensure its long term sustainability. It is quite clear that football clubs at our level cannot survive on revenue generated from football related activities alone. There are a number of things we have done already, for example using our assets better - the ground share with Gloucester City, taking on the entire lease at our training facility and then subletting surplus areas to generate revenue and reduce the running costs and also letting out surplus office space at the ground to the Trust for educational use.

We are investing in our Conference facilities which are beginning to show a decent return and we have recently set up a number of new web sites specifically geared to promoting enquiries for room and function hire, conferencing, hospitality and things to do with children at weekends. And the investment in our Academy will we hope generate more revenue from the sale of young players which really can make a significant contribution.   


If Gloucester City were relegated, would that impact on their tenancy? (Charlie Farnsbarns, Cheltenham)

Firstly I hope that they will not be relegated but if they are I cannot see them being able to afford to renew their tenancy for a further season. Indeed if they are relegated they would not be required to have such a well appointed stadium. More realistically I think they will stay for another season by which time their new stadium will be ready. 


Why doesn't the club do any social nights to raise money in the bar and the club such as tribute nights and Christmas dinners? (Jamie Howells, Cheltenham)

Hi Jamie,

At our last Board meeting we invited Jeff, the bar manager, to come along so we could chat about the running of the bars and we asked him the same question. It seems that the sort of events you are talking about are not financially attractive anymore - people just don't support them. It may be due to our location and the problem of driving or simply the cost of nights out but we are making good money with private functions such as wakes, parties, skittles, celebrations etc. where there is no risk and no time consuming organisation, ticket selling etc. 

The club used to organise a number of events such as Golf Days, Sporting Dinners etc. but the amount of time and effort involved compared to selling an advertising board for example meant that such events can no longer be justified on a revenue earned basis. 


We see more and more clubs successfully using digital media to engage old and new fans - is this something the club would consider investing more resources into?  (Barry Thomas, Tewkesbury)

Thanks Barry. I’m not sure I am best placed to answer this one given I have yet to discover 'social media'! 

However we do have an excellent website, we do regular e-newsletters but we really must improve our databases and collect more email data. We do engage on Twitter and Facebook and we are trying to improve the quality and content of our Robins Player package. Any ideas would be most welcome! 

League Two is proving to be a very tight league this season, do you feel the current squad at CTFC have what it takes to be successful this season and will you be looking for some new players to help boost the club up the league in January? (Lucy Vincent, Cheltenham)

Hi Lucy,

When we sat down with Mark at the beginning of the season we agreed a budget which we felt would give him a decent chance of making the play-offs. We agreed we needed to bring in players of a better quality but to do that it was necessary to work with a smaller squad. No money was set aside for strengthening the squad with loan signings; we took a calculated gamble with injuries
and hoped the new squad would gel quickly. 

I believe the current squad is certainly capable of reaching the play-offs. With regards to new players we have been able to make a number of loan signings using some of the money from the West Ham match and by making savings elsewhere such as the Keith Lowe deal to York. If we are to strengthen the squad in January then it can only be done by making savings elsewhere in the playing budget.

Last season the FA Cup success helped us to significantly strengthen the squad in January which further emphasises the importance of FA Cup success.


Off or on the pitch, what is the one trend in the modern game you would like to reverse? (Laurence Horton, Cheltenham)

Hi Laurence.
 
Well on the field I would like referees to stamp out diving and time wasting which all fans hate. 

Off the field I wish fans would support their team rather than berate and wind up the opposition fans.  


How is the club faring financially compared with this time last season and do you expect the situation to improve if the club reach the play-offs? (Paul Fearnside, Cheltenham)

Hi Paul.

Well fortunately we never budget to do make money from any of the cup competitions so whilst an early exit does not damage our revenue calculations it does mean we have to be very disciplined if we are to break even or make a profit. 

It also makes it very difficult to reduce debt and to strengthen the playing squad. Clearly if we reach the play-offs then it would be a significant bonus - especially if we got to the final! It would be the difference between making a loss or breaking even and making a profit, reducing debt and possibly investing in the playing squad in the following season. 


The club’s Junior Robins scheme is great and highly commendable when trying to bring through a younger generation of Cheltenham supporters but are there any plans to engage teenagers and young adults to return to the stands on matchdays? (Adam Jeffree, Cheltenham)

Hi Adam.

We have been delighted with the success of the new 'Junior Robins' scheme. Over 600 members have so far signed up so thank you for your favourable comments. 

We did, I recall, reduce prices for teenagers and students this season and we are trying to further develop our links with local Colleges and the University. I do think we could do more however to engage with school students. 

The problem with further reducing prices for young adults is that we will have to make up that lost revenue elsewhere and the opportunities for doing that are limited. The season ticket is excellent value for all age categories but I appreciate this age group probably cannot afford this outlay all in one go - although the instalment scheme may help!

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