Chairman David Cardoza and Facilities Manager Avril Spraggon attended the latest NTFC SL Open Forum at Sixfields on Thursday. For those unable to attend, a brief round up of the evening can be found below.
Q: At Oxford they have a marquee that was packed out with fans selling refreshments. Is there anything like that we can do as I would expect it to be a money spinner?
DC: We have looked into this, it is a great idea but the one at Oxford is run by and is within the grounds of an established public house. For us there was a major cost to set it up and the biggest problem we had, given the lay out of Sixfields, is that where the marquee would be was in open space. The costs of putting security fencing around were astronomical and overall the costs were too high when you add in décor, TVs etc. If we had an enclosed area here that would have made securing the facility easier we would have had one by now. We went as far as changing the licence to make sure we could do it and we would love to do it but at Sixfields, given the lay out of the stadium here, the security costs were massive and made it too difficult. If the re-development happens that space will be used anyway but if for any reason the re-development does not go ahead we may well revisit the idea.
There was a discussion about safe standing and the possibility of it returning at Sixfields. Avril Spraggon explained it was very unlikely, given that if we were to make the North Stand safe standing it would not be a case of simply removing the seats, as the gradient would be too steep. The stand would almost have to be rebuilt. Even if we could afford that we would be likely to face opposition from safety groups against such a move and those issues would be very difficult to overcome.
Q: Why is it not possible to book a ticket for a certain seat on-line?
DC: The old system was not capable of that but by Monday or Tuesday of next week our new system should be installed. We have invested a lot of money in the new system and we expect it to be live a few days before the Cheltenham game. In the new system, if not straight away then very soon after launch, you will be able to select specific seats.
Q: Could the club get a cask of real ale in Carr’s Bar?
DC: We tried it before and there was not a big enough take up on it and we ended up throwing some of the ale away. We only sold around a dozen pints at one game and the ale won’t last for more than one game. We also put bottles of real ale in and they didn’t sell so we decided there was just not enough demand for it. We are happy to try it again, contractually we need to get the ale through Carlsberg, and give it a big push (the Trust offered to pay for the cost of trying this and will discuss with the club). If it works great, if not then we will know for sure that there is not enough demand for it but happy to give it another go.
Q: Will we get a new PA system as part of the re-development?
AS: The current system was put in in 1994 and was designed for emergency announcements only. The system uses horns not speakers and they are designed to deliver emergency messages rather than music. The volume and the clarity is set for such a purpose. As we use it for other announcements and music the sound is distorted because the system was not built for that. It was fit for purpose at the time and it is still working although of course it needs replacing. To do so would be hugely expensive, so with the re-development so close do we spend such huge sums of money on a new system when we plan to get one as part of the re-development anyway? We don’t have a bottomless pit of money so we have to decide whether to spend the funds we have on making the first team squad as strong as possible, or do we spend on things like a new PA system? In a perfect world we would have both, and yes the PA system needs sorting, but in our opinion it would not be the wisest spend of the funds we have to divert them away from the first team at this stage. Others may disagree but we would not want to rob the squad of a player or two to pay for a new PA system that might be in place for less than a year.
Q: Does the car parking money go to the club and where are the stewards after the game?
AS: We pay a licence to use those car parks on a matchday and we do get the income from them minus the licence and operational costs. At the end of the game there are some stewards on patrol but not as many of them as before the game. After the game some of the stewards mainly concentrate on getting the away fans away but the cars should be directed to park in such a way that getting out causes the smallest amount of problems as possible. To be fair though, at just about every ground you visit you have to queue to get out, last week at Oxford it took most of us an hour or more to leave. A few thousand people all leaving at the same time will cause problems and we will continue to do our best to minimise those delays.