“I have been very struck by the recent decision of the club to cut paltry expenses like the free cup tickets for the staff (when the stadium is half empty in the first cup ties) and the free Match Programmes for the Lions Clubs' chairmen.
Obviously I have no problems to pay the match programmes from now on, this is not the point.
What leaves me perplexed is that the sums that you can save with this plan of retrenchment of expenses will be about 1/1000000 of the costs that you have for some average players with top player wages like Dunne, Beyè and others.
So, decisions like these, on one side don't improve the financial situation of the club and on the other side cut to the quick the most genuine part of the club, the staff and the fans, giving the strong impression that the property is preparing to sell up the club, and in order to do so must give the purchaser the impression that the books are balanced and that there are not useless expenses.
Obviously I hope to be wrong but this is my impression at the moment”.
The discussion is a good one, and led me to the following thoughts
There are two sides to this coin, and they're both valid. The one side is that over the past 3 Summer windows, and the January windows the net result of transfer spending is a sizeable income. Over the whole of Randy's time, the total is a net outgoing of about 32 million (it's impossible to be precise, because a lot of fees are undisclosed).
So in recent year supporters have seen us very much as a selling club, selling off the better players and not replacing them with the same quality, after an initial period when a great deal of money was spent, that took us from down the bottom of the league to consistent top 6 (but no better) with good cup runs, too.
The other side is the wage bill. It was allowed to get out of hand. Far, far, too much money went out of the club to players and agents that was simply out of proportion to their contributions to the club and team. That situation has to be addressed, the wages have to be at a sustainable level.
Making that adjustment was always going to be painful and involve a period of transition for the team. That's still going on.
So how's it progressing? What's good and what's bad?
Well, clearly, a significant number of highly paid players have gone - Barry, Friedel, Milner, Young, Downing, NRC, Luke Young and so on.
Then again, others have come in - Shay Given, N'Zogbia, Darren Bent, Ireland... and some remain - Beye and Cuellar are not first team regulars, but are surely on high wages.
So I suspect that there's still a way to go, yet, to bring down the wage bill. Additionally, of course there's the wages paid to managers, and pay-offs to them and their staff when they left. Those one-off hits will affect the figures. And we don't know what moneys were paid to players leaving, in terms of them claiming all kinds of bonuses and so on, to which they would claim entitlement under their contracts, if they did not formally ask for a transfer. It might seem "wrong" to the likes of us, but that's the mess football is in, generally.
So cutting the wage bill - work in progress. Hard for everyone, basically.
What's good? - well, it may not be exciting, exactly, but the facilities for corporates (>100 boxes and suites) and to an extent some of the facilities for fans - the Holte suite for example, have been upgraded and enabled more income to be taken on a match day. Sponsorships are much better than a few years ago. These are good things for the club, financially. And the TV deals are much higher than they were.
What's bad - ticket prices. Also the way it is reported that sundry minor costs such as the coats in Archie's OP, and SC chairmen's Programmes - various trivial items are being made into a big thing at the cost of goodwill. That's bad.
They really messed up with the ticket prices, IMO. To have an increase of around 7% on average, in a recession, whilst selling the best players and appointing a manager who was not exactly wildly popular and who has a record of dull football was both insensitive and counter-productive - particularly when so many games are moved for the TV.
It's extremely unfortunate that while doing all this the only communications from the higher echelons of the club have been what looks right now like a deal of bluster from General Krulak and a letter from Randy which looks like an accountant got hold of it, left just the first part untouched, changed the rest and then forged his signature. Paul Faulkner sent a slightly better version out later on.
People might comment that as fans we're over-demanding, for ever wanting "spend spend spend" and have no appreciation of the intricacies of running a club. And they'd probably be right.
But then the club doesn't exactly go out of its way to inform us, to teach us, to help us understand. The communication we get seems to be of a fairly basic style - bombard us with texts and e mails about shirts, tickets and packages - tell us we're great and our support is great in missives handed down, or the kind of friendly, well meaning tub-thumping from the General.
What's utterly lacking is any shade. A form of communication that fills in the gaps between "buy stuff", "we're going to win" and "great fans". There's nothing influential or informative coming out of the club. Stuff gets raised and then quietly forgotten about. For example the Olympics next year - VP dropped out of hosting games because the ground would be being rebuilt at the North stand end. HO'K's plans would be revealed to us., we were told. But nothing....
OK, change your plans to adjust to changing situations, but perhaps having told us one thing, they have a duty to tell us about the change? And it's that same thing with the plans for the team, or for that matter the Club.
"Committed as ever" is about the size of the detail we've been given. Well sorry, but the evidence before our eyes says something different. The evidence before our eyes says that we're not aiming for the Champions League places, we're all about financial retrenchment. So talk to us.
I'm certain that better and more honest communication could have seen things turn out differently. As it is, because of the lack of proper information us fans have been stridently voicing our displeasure, the Club people feel bombarded and defensive and even less inclined to talk to us, thinking that all we do is unjustifiably moan.
What's that saying about before criticising a man, walk a mile in his shoes? - in other words try to understand his situation for a time before you have a go at him.
Both the Club and us lot, the fans, need to try that. The club, to their credit have been contacting and speaking to us individually about why we haven't renewed season tickets. I wonder what they'll do with whatever conclusions they draw? Will they tell us?
Then again "why haven't you spent 500 quid on us?" might also be seen as a bit "me" focused - you know "why have you stopped paying me money". For football fans, I think, the relationship between fans and their club is not about and certainly should not be about money. Which is where many of us are massive hypocrites, of course. We want them not to just treat us as consumer units from whom they can take their 50 quid for a shirt and 38 quid for a ticket whilst simultaneously we demand that they spend 15 million on a winger.
The only way that situation can change is by communicating. We know what we think (I think) and we write it on here and on other sites, we talk to Radio and sometimes even the telly and the local or national press.
The club has the odd SCG forum and talks to some fans they know personally, but there's not been enough communication for us masses, that at a level much beyond "buy this thing".
Now, more than for a long time, the Club should be a force for a "feel-good factor", but it's not, is it? It was when Randy was spending money, and we loved it. We still admire him greatly for the good things he's done, but currently I think we have every right to be concerned about the future and the plans for the club. They really need to talk.