Interview with the Chairman
Saesneg yn unig...
Smooth transitions, squad overhauls, finances and admission prices. We caught up with the chairman to discuss all things Caernarfon Town Football Club….
How have things been going at the club since the end of last season?
Paul: As always, the first month after the end of the season was quiet, although I spoke a lot with Richard during this period, on the phone and on zoom. It was an interesting time, as we don’t often have new managers at the Oval, and so it was important that we discussed matters regarding the budget, the management and playing staff. We’re all proud of Richard’s progress as a coach with us over the years and we have a great working relationship so it’s been really good to discuss the club’s future with him. I have to say that we’re all very pleased that Kev, Mark and PD have stayed with us too, as they’re experts in their own fields and make an excellent team.
Was there a feeling, after a disappointing season last time around, that the squad needed an overhaul?
Paul: You’d have to ask Richard about that but, for me, I don’t think we needed an overhaul as such, although it’s always nice to see new players arrive at the club. Having said that, it was important that we as a board supported Richard with his plans and player recruitment and I feel we have done this to the best of our ability. On a personal note, I think the recruitments he has made over the summer are all very impressive and will be exciting to see how they all fit into the squad.
How smooth a transition has it been between Huw leaving and Richard taking over?
Paul:When you look back over recent years, we have tended to appoint managers who are already at the club and we’ve been successful in doing so. From Iwan to Eards to Huw, it’s worked well for us, and as Richard has been at the club for around seven years now he knows the club and players as well as anybody. We hold Richard in the highest regard as a coach and as a person and so it’s been as smooth a transition as you could hope for and would expect.
Has there been any ground developments at the Oval over the summer?
Paul: We were successful in getting a grant to put solar panels onto the main stand, which we hope, and expect will help reduce our energy bills substantially. Everyone will know how much they have gone up recently, ours have nearly quadrupled, and so we’ve tried to combat this. We were also lucky enough to have been donated new kitchen appliances for the canteen from our board member Pat Frost, which we hope will make things easier for Angharad and Dylan. Supporters and board members have been at the ground recently to tidy things and paint areas that required it, so the Oval is looking good!
There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the financial predicament of clubs throughout Wales. How are things at the Oval?
Paul: It’s always a challenge isn’t it? People look at our crowds and say that we should be amongst the richest clubs in the league, but that’s being unrealistic. If you look at other clubs in the Cymru Premier League, most, if not all of them can’t compete with us for crowds, and yet, because they have a rich benefactor or have qualified for European competition, and the riches that it provides, they are spending huge amounts on wages and signing on fees. I suppose that’s just football isn’t it, but it makes things difficult for clubs like ours. I think our supporters know this, and understand where we are at as a club, and really, that’s the most important thing. As long as they know we’re doing our best, that’s all that matters really.
Is survival in the top tier always the goal for the club, or is qualifying for Europe still the dream?
Paul:No matter how you look at it, the more money you have, the more chance you have of qualifying for Europe. So, whilst we our doing our best to live within our means, and we’ll continue to do so, we’re also looking at new ways of raising finances because we really want to get into Europe and give the supporters an away trip to remember!
Is this why the club has introduced the Back the Cofis fundraiser?
Paul: Yes, the Back the Cofis fundraiser is one of the ways we’re trying to raise extra money for the club. The Board thought long and hard before doing this, as we know how difficult times are for everyone in the country but, having seen the success other clubs have had with it, we felt it was worth trying. However, the difference with our fundraiser is that the money will be used to run the club, as well as helping towards the budget, if possible. When you see the difficulties some clubs not too far from us have experienced in recent years, it proves that clubs have to do as much as they can to look after themselves, and we’re hoping that ‘Back the Cofis’ will prove successful and help us this season. We have already raised over £2000 in the first week and a half, which is a good start, but of course we hope it will reach a bigger total before we close it at the end of August.
What else has the club got planned in the near future?
Paul: Well, we are working with an amalgamation of companies who approached us last year with a view of helping us in a number of ways, including recruitment, stats and growing our brand. The recent launch of our first ever retro kit was really the first project we’ve worked on with them, and that’s proved very successful, and so we hope to do a lot more with them in the future. We also have a few projects of our own we’re looking into and hope to announce soon that may help us progress.
Is true that the club has developed its commercial team recently?
Paul: We have always had a commercial manager who has been solely responsible for approaching, contacting and looking after our sponsors and I think it’s an almost impossible job for one person. As a board we have realised that it is important to try and increase our commercial activities and so we’re really pleased that we now have two commercial officers working with Barry. Jim Edwards won’t need any introduction, as he is someone synonymous with the club. He was our commercial manager for many years and has continued to help us over the past few seasons, and we’re all really pleased that Jim will be continuing with us. We have also recently appointed Daniel Shane Lewis to help with this work, so we’re hoping things will go well for our new commercial team.
Has the club decided yet on admission prices for the new season?
Paul: Yes, we have decided that adult admission prices will increase to £9, which is our first increase in four seasons. Concessions will remain at £6 and we have decided that, due to the current climate, children under 18 will be allowed into matches for free. We understand how difficult things are for families these days and so this is our way of helping. It’s the least we can do, and we hope it will help in a small way.
What do you think of the changes to the Academy system and funding?
Paul: I don’t pretend to be aware of all of the changes that have been made but know that they have created categories, and we fall into Category B. From what I have been told, this means that our Academy funding has been reduced from around £90,000 to £58,000 which is a huge difference. I also understand that the work to be carried out by our staff has increased, and so I have to question what’s behind this and just as importantly, why does the FAW think it’s a positive move? One thing I do know is that our Head of Academy, Dave Cavanagh, and his staff have been working wonders at the Academy and to ask even more of them is tough. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the powers that be at the FAW have not really listened, or at least taken notice, to the people working at Academies in Wales as to the merits of the changes and so that’s a bit disappointing.
What are your hopes for the season?
Paul:Like everyone else at the club, I hope we can challenge for Europe and maybe this time manage to get there. One thing is for sure, Richard, and his management team, all the squad, all our volunteers and everyone on the Board will be doing our very best to give our supporters and the town a season to remember!