Fans meeting with Peter Ridsdale
A wide range of topics were discussed during a relaxed forum. What follows is a brief summary of the main issues covered:
THE RECENT TAKEOVER DEAL AND NEW INVESTORS
Peter informed the supporters that the club are intending to raise a total of £6.5 million through the issue of new shares. More than 50% of the new share issue has already been taken up, and commitments are now in place for a good percentage of the remaining shares. However, other investors are still being sought and any supporters or existing shareholders who wish to purchase new shares are encouraged to contact the club. They have until mid-March to do so.
The new board will consist of Peter Ridsdale, former chairman Steve Borley and Mike Hall of PMG Estates, who are each investing £500,000 in the new share issue. The fourth board member will be corporate lawyer Alan Whitely, who has already been acting as the club's secretary for some time. Peter spoke very highly of the work Alan has being doing for the club, particularly with regard to the news stadium project.
There are a number of other new investors, including Paul Guy of PMG Estates, who has also put in £500,000 but who will not take a place on the board. The other investors have put in varying amounts of money, although none have committed any sums of more than £500,000 to the issue. The identities of the new investors will be revealed shortly, although two wish to remain anonymous for personal or professional reasons. As of today, former vice-chairman Michael Isaac is not one of the new investors, although he may take an increased stake in due course.
HEDGE FUNDS AND LOAN NOTES
Peter revealed that the potential takeover involving London-based hedge funds broke down over the issue of the club's £24 million loan notes debt owed to the Langston Corporation. The hedge funds proposed to pay only a fraction of the outstanding debt in a deal that was unacceptable to both Sam Hammam and the loan note holders. Therefore, the board endeavoured to put together a seperate takeover package involving individual investors.
The chairman told the fans that the payment of the loan notes debt has been rescheduled twice in recent months. In the latest deal, which will be signed off by all of the concerned parties very shortly, the loan note holders will receive £9 million from the sale of the stadium naming rights. It is the responsibility of the club to find a suitable sponsorship package to raise this money, and it appears that at least one reasonable offer may already be on the table.
The bulk of rest of the money owed to the Langston Corporation will be raised by potential development opportunities on the new stadium site (£6 million), premium debenture seats at the new stadium (£3 million) and promotion to the Premiership (£5 million).
When the loan notes debt is signed off and has been taken off the balance sheet, the club's remaining debt will stand at around the £2 million mark, with monies owed to current director Steve Borley (£250,000), and former directors Michael Isaac (£1.5 million) and Kim Walker (£125,000).
Peter confirmed that new stadium bowl will have an initial capacity of 30,000, with a minimum of 25,000 seats put in place for the opening game, as per a set agreement between the club and the council. He said the actual number of seats will be dependent upon the club's financial situation at the time of build, and will be closer to 30,000 if possible.
The chairman stressed that no reconstruction work will be necessary to increase the number of seats from 25,000 up to 30,000.
GROUND-SHARING WITH THE CARDIFF BLUES
Peter was asked if a ground-share with the Cardiff Blues rugby club was already a done deal. He said it was not, and that he had not spoken to any representatives of the Blues recently, be he said he fully supported the idea provided that it is financially viable for the football club.
He stated that any such agreement would see the rugby club as stadium tenants rather than co-owners, and said that Cardiff RFC would not be involved in any potential ground-share.
The chairman revealed that work is due to start on some new state-of-the-art training facilities very shortly. An announcement concerning this exciting development will be made officially in due course.
Peter informed those present that the fee for Peter Whittingham's transfer from Aston Villa was in fact £250,000 (two payments of £125,000) as opposed to the £350,000 that has been reported by the press.
Striker Jason Byrne has joined the club from Shelbourne in a £100,000 deal.
Midfielder James Simmonds has joined from Chelsea for the remainder of the season. The club has an option to take him on a free transfer at the end of the campaign, and Dave Jones is hopeful the player will break into the first team this term.
More transfer targets are being actively pursued, with another striker currently at the top of the manager's shopping list.
Peter revealed that the club bid £1.2 million for Luton Town's Rowan Vine, which was the price Dave Jones was prepared to pay for the player. He then talked about some of the ridiculous recent press coverage concerning City's transfer dealings, and pointed to one Western Mail report in particular which claimed that negotiations with Peter Whittingham had broken down, while the club was talking to striker Jon Stead's representatives.
In actual fact, Whittingham had already agreed a deal when the article was written, and there was no contact made with either Stead or his representatives as he was never a transfer target.
CONSULTATION WITH SUPPORTERS
Peter said he was keen to keep an open door policy at the club, and that supporters are free to contact him and his staff directly whenever they encounter any problems or have any questions.
As regards regular consultation with the club's fans, another open forum is planned and should take place fairly soon. The club will also be sending a representative to a scheduled Supporters Club meeting in Port Talbot, while the possibility of a monthly meeting between fans and a member of the board, most likely Steve Borley, were also discussed.
A variety of other issues were also touched upon briefly, including the banning of City fans from Saturday's game at Wolves, ticket prices at the new stadium, Tony Clemo's outburst at the EGM, the future roles of the supporters' clubs within the club, the possibility of forming a supporters' trust, a forthcoming campaign to get a statue of Fred Keenor erected in Cardiff city centre, the new Coca Cola ‘buy a player for your club' initiative and the continuing problem with the anti-social behaviour of under-18's on the Grange End.