Ground Share With Gloucester City – Statement from Clive Gowing (FED)

I am writing in response to the news that the Football Club have agreed an extension to the ground share agreement with Gloucester City, as confirmed by Paul Baker in yesterday’s matchday programme.

As the Fan Elected Director (FED) I feel that I have a responsibility to give you all some more insight into how this decision was reached, and why I voted in favour of extending the ground share.

For all important decisions such as this, the full CTFC board vote on the proposal, discussing either in meetings, via e-mail or on the phone, until a majority decision is reached.

Earlier this season, Gloucester City made an initial approach to extend the agreement for next season, this was then discussed at length by both the finance sub-committee and at a full board meeting.

A wide range of issues were discussed and ultimately the decision was taken to extend the agreement by a further year.

The ground share is always an emotive issue among fans, with lots of debate as to how much money it makes, or what it costs in terms of damage to the pitch.

While I can’t comment on the exact commercially sensitive figures, I can assure you that the agreement is profitable for us and generates a significant income stream. The deal this year also includes an increase in rental income compared to previous seasons.

At the time of writing the club are in a fantastic League position and well on course for our aim of promotion.

However, we also need to be aware of the consequences if that main aim is not achieved. This is the reason that I, reluctantly, voted to extend the ground share agreement.

Throughout this season there has been talk of the consequences of not achieving promotion, much of it coupled with uncertainty, doom and gloom.

This season has seen everyone at the club pull together magnificently. From our superb volunteers who save the club thousands of pounds and to staff who have cut back their hours or saved costs.

As a board we need to ensure that whatever happens between now and May, the club is on solid ground for next season.

If our aim of promotion is not met, we won’t simply turn out the lights and settle for mid-table next year – we want to give Gary Johnson and his team the best possible chance of success next season and beyond.

Costs were cut back so much last year, the loss in the parachute funding from the Football League would need to be sourced in other ways – ways we are already working on.

With this in mind, I felt that not extending the ground share deal would have left us without another revenue stream and another loss to cover.

I am acutely aware that the ground share deal does come at a cost and that cost is the damage to the pitch.

I watched the Oxford City FA Trophy replay from the director’s box and must admit that I felt embarrassed by the state of the pitch.

In the past year we have employed a new groundsman in Matt Utteridge and he is putting in a serious amount of work in difficult conditions – As a board we can’t praise him enough.

In the past few months and with the state of the pitch deteriorating, John Murphy and other members of the board have been having detailed conversations with a number of contractors in regards to the pitch.

We hope that these conversations will lead to a more complete overhaul of the pitch during this summer and the coming summers too, to ensure we have a pitch to be proud of again.

This cost needs to be funded, regardless of whether the ground share goes ahead or not and was another reason why the income from the deal with Gloucester City is crucial.

Our main aim, as always, is to provide a competitive budget to the manager so we can achieve victories on the pitch.

We hope that with the decisions we have taken in the past year, many of which have been incredibly difficult to make, we can be in a positive position both on and off the pitch.

As a board we want to ensure that we are in a position to challenge at the top of whichever division we play in next year.

I would like to thank you all for taking time to read this post and hope you all understand the different factors behind what has been the most difficult decision since my election as FED.

I am as always happy to discuss this decision and any further decision with you all, I can be reached via e-mail at clive.gowing@robinstrust.org.

The club are also looking at setting a date for an open forum in early March and I hope to see as many of you as possible there.