County playing safe over budget
NEWPORT County chairman Chris Blight insists he will do his utmost to support manager Justin Edinburgh in recruiting new players to play at Rodney Parade, but insists the club has learned lessons from last season.
The Exiles today begin the process of transferring to their new home from Spytty Park with general manager Stephen Dance tasked with co-ordinating the transition. They will now be based solely at Rodney Parade and the transfering of the club offices and shop are tasks for the next few days.
The Exiles would by now normally have sold the majority of their season tickets for the new campaign but had to delay that process with their ground status up in the air.
Last night they introduced fans to their new home with a meet and greet session and Blight explained the thought process behind making the move and emphasised some of the issues which still need to be addressed.
Despite the potential for vastly increased attendances next term Blight outlined to the Argus why the playing budget will be smaller than the one given to Anthony Hudson at the start of last season.
“Put simply, we won’t be stretching ourselves again to the point where we need fan donations to sign players,” he said.
“We made mistakes last year with the budget, there is no getting away from that fact and we have learned from the errors we made as a board.
“We decided to back Anthony Hudson with as much money as we could based on our projections of having an average gate of 1900, that was a mistake in hindsight.
“No-one on the board has taken an A level or GCSE in running a football club and the playing budget is something we’ve got a different perspective on this season.
“We will provide the manager with a budget based on the average attendance of last season 1400 even though we expect it to be higher than that.
“We are solvent and want to back Justin so if the crowds are greater, the extra revenue will be provided to the manager, especially for the busy transfer period in January.”
Blight revealed that County’s rent as tenants of Rodney Parade isn’t far in excess of what was being paid to the council to feature at Spytty Park. The rent would be increased should they achieve promotion.
Blight also revealed that it is likely County’s current club shop will be integrated with the one currently used by the Dragons and Newport RFC.
The Exiles will transfer their offices, telephone lines and faxes within the next 24-hours and are having continued dialogue over merchandise sales.
County will lose a fair amount of match day revenue that was generated by BarAmber but Blight also outlined discussions to offset those losses.
“We’ve talked in great length about this, there are several commercial match day revenue ideas we think could help us,” he said.
“The Dragons have been very helpful in identifying income streams that are not just through the gate to increase our match day revenue.
“This isn’t a case of rugby subsidising football in the city. We are working in partnership in a bid to make the exercise as rewarding as possible for all parties. If there wasn’t a financial incentive for everyone, this move simply wouldn’t have been possible.”
Blight also revealed that the club will press ahead with plans to attract new faces to the board with Nick McDonald stepping down as a director to spend more time with his family. He will however, continue to support the club.
Blight also revealed that the appointment of Stephen Dance as general manager is the first appointment of what will hopefully be many to run the club professionally.
The Exiles would, down the line like to have a specialist working as a commercial manager and have other roles filled by full-time members of staff.
“Now that the move to Rodney Parade is confirmed Stephen will be in charge of the process of integrating ourselves up there,” he said.
“It’s an essential position to fill and in time others will be filled as well as the club looks to grow.”