CAST meeting with Thomas Sandgaard

Following on from the opening win of the season members of the CAST board met with Thomas Sandgaard to discuss a range of matters. The CAST attendees were Chair Heather McKinlay (HM) and board members John Barnes (JB), Paul Breen (PB) and Derek Orford (DO)

With the 10th anniversary of CAST falling this year, we presented a ticket initiative which would entail CAST purchasing a number of match tickets and making these available to those who could otherwise not afford to attend. TS confirmed full support in principle for this idea. More details will follow from CAST as soon as we have confirmed the process with the club. TS highlighted the club's own initiative to support local grass roots organisations and saw this all working in tandem towards increasing attendance at The Valley.

HM asked about the four free tickets included for season ticket holders to bring along friends and family to nominated matches. TS said he would check details on this. He said that around 8,000 season tickets had been sold so far with more still coming in day by day. HM mentioned a previous promotion where fans could buy a season ticket before the end of August and get any match ticket spend up to that point refunded.

JB put forward a concept to welcome fans more proactively to The Valley on a first or returning visit. TS was positive about the idea and committed to take a look at how to implement this with CAST's support.

TS discussed current financials. Valley capacity 27k, less 9k season tickets, less away end 3k, leaves 15k to sell every game. The owner feels that we are poor at match day sales versus other clubs. CAST had previously shared analysis with TS and Raelynn Maloney which showed 600,000 football fans in South East London and Kent who were aware of and positive towards CAFC. TS said if we can get 2-3% of them, that would be great and admitted that success on the pitch would influence that.

TS continued on the financials. To summarise: £10M turnover, £18M expenses, so loss £8M per year. He firmly believes that it is possible to double turnover in the long term not dependent on promotion to The Championship. The aim this season is to reduce the losses by half with the goal of break even the following year. This involves adding £2-£3M to the revenue this year and cutting at least £1M in expenditure. He does not intend to "do a Derby" and keep subsidising the club for millions year after year nor to end up in Roland's position of having to sell for £1 simply to stop paying the bills. He talked about trying to do things differently in future in order to increase revenues. He said sponsorship was going well and season tickets sales are relatively stable so the key areas for improvement are match day sales and hospitality.

HM asked about Category 1 for the Academy. TS is frustrated that this has not been granted and felt that if CAFC was promoted, it would be. There is another window to apply coming up and TS is discussing with Steve Avory how best to proceed. In the meantime CAFC being rated 8th best in the country says a lot.

HM returned to the relationship between CAST and the club. While CAST is independent of the club we all share the same goal of success for CAFC. In light of the fan-led review some clubs have a formal Memorandum of Understanding in place between the club ownership and the Supporters' Trust. TS prefers to keep things informal and reiterated that he is always approachable. HM said that, as a democratically-constituted independent organisation that represents fans, CAST will sometimes disagree with the club. TS replied that's OK and urged us to speak directly with him on such occasions.

TS asked if there was a link to CAST on the club's new website. HM said no and that we believed this to be an oversight and had recently highlighted it with Tom Rubashow - club Head of Communications. TS explained that the website was launched to a deadline and is being improved all the time and that he will follow up to make sure there is a link to CAST.

PB has attended a number of meetings as the CAST representative about the Her Game Too partnership. He praised the support from the club, particularly Raelynn Maloney, for the initiative. Discussions are ongoing about identifying a match / weekend to promote Her Game Too this season. TS reiterated his support for this.


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