THERE is a great deal of discontent surrounding Newport County AFC at this present moment and that’s a shame only a week on from the positive news about the Rodney Parade groundshare.
Since that essential move was rubber-stamped there has been plenty going on with stalwarts Sam Foley and Gary Warren departing, several players signing or re-signing and a meet and greet night.
The key issue that is upsetting some is the season ticket pricing, which as reported in the Argus has seen a uniformal rise in price of between 15-18%.
I did receive some criticism for making comparisons with the cheapest tickets at other clubs, most notably Manchester City where the cheapest seat is £65 less than a Rodney Parade pass to see the Exiles.
How dare I not explain that the two clubs operate different financial models? How dare I not explain other Manchester City tickets are much more expensive than County’s?
So for the avoidance of doubt, let me redress that. Readers, it is generally more expensive to watch the Premier League champions and the most expensive side ever assembled than it is to watch the team who finished 19th in the Conference. They also have more money than County. Hope that clears that up.
Another criticism was that I failed to adequately reflect that several of the prices I showed were special offers for supporters.
They were prices sometimes based on early renewals or deals whereby a family might be encouraged to buy a ticket. How novel!
Not only have the Exiles priced their tickets too high, they also made a massive error in the way they presented the ticket prices for next term. No official word on the website or in the form of an Enews, seemingly not enough consultation with fans and, most infuriatingly, a one size Fitz Hall price structure.
In researching the prices that riled some of our readers I was amazed by the breadth of selections and offers other clubs provide.
It’s night and day compared to County where even an announcement of the prices wasn’t forthcoming, let alone an explanation.
Supporters who accused me of anti-County bias or, more tiresomely, ‘lazy journalism’ (this column is not being written from a sun lounger as I sip a Pina Colada) also failed to grasp that these prices have been endorsed by the Supporters’ Trust. And that fact was enough to see a committee member resign.
Whether or not the Exiles are now committed to the pricing I can’t answer but it seems pretty clear that there is only one way to address the issues that supporters have and that’s by improving the lines of communication.
The board – now just chairman Chris Blight and director Howard Greenhaf – are becoming isolated. They need help in running the club and the appointment of one employee – new general manager Stephen Dance – won’t alter that. Nor will appointing two trust members to the board, much as that is a welcome step.
A club like Newport County will always work best with board room efforts being collaborative and it is time to go back to that. For Blight and Greenhaf the Rodney Parade move represents a coup and they should feel proud.
But that doesn’t excuse a lack of communication. Re-establishing dialogue with the masses should be the priority.
It is time for dialogue. My message to the County hierarchy is clear. Ignore everything Elvis Presley has told you – what you need is a little more conversation and a little less action.