Paul Aldridge Q&a Part Two

On Wednesday we had part one of the Q&A session with MD Paul Aldridge, dealing largely with questions of finance.

Here is the second, and concluding, part of the session where Paul answers questions sent to this web site on a varied selection of topics.

What is happening with the Wall Of Fame?

"Some supporters may have noticed the Wall Of Fame bricks appearing on the panels situated within the North West corner of the stadium; we currently expect all the bricks to be installed, cleaned and coated in time for a small opening ceremony, to be advised in due course.

"The bricks were intentionally held back due to the delay in the completion of the new stand; there was a large amount of heavy plant and workmen around that area, and they could easily have been damaged."

Why are the facilities and toilets inadequate in the Dr. Martens stand?

"When designing a new stand we have to comply with the "The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds" (the Green Guide) and building regulations. These bodies set down ratios for WC's. The Dr Martens Stand facilities comply to these standards.

"We believe the catering kiosks are comparable to the majority of new stadia facilities, and I am sure that some of the problems will be eliminated as both supporters and staff become more familiar with the new stand."

When will the pitch move?

"The pitch will be moved during the coming close season. This will be incorporated in a complete renovation of the Upton Park playing surface. As part of the Dr Martens stand redevelopment we have had to undertake to raise the pitch between 150mm and 280mm next season. This will greatly enhance the view from the Bobby Moore and Centenary stands and eradicate the need for supporters to stand in these areas.

"The pitch construction will be exactly the same as present using the Subair and Grassmaster synthetic system."

Are there future plans to expand the sports science area at the club?

"Yes - since Glenn became manager we have already moved a long way to embrace modern technology within football. We already had an excellent medical team in place and, after consultation and advice from John Green, we employed John McCarthy on a full time basis as our sports scientist. He in turn has restructured our fitness training regime and introduced other areas of science such as a dietician, sports psychologist, and technology based training aids. I believe that over the next few seasons this area will continue to grow rapidly."

Why was Glenn offered a new deal?

"We have all been very encouraged with the way Glenn has worked this season and believe it was correct to give him the security and commitment of a longer contract. I am sure Glenn will continue the club's tradition of having long serving managers as he possesses the skills and commitment required to ensure the team reverses the downward trend of the last few seasons."

Will the WHUST be able to get involved at board level?

"Peter Barnes attended a recent meeting of the WHUST and reported back to the board. I believe the WHUST is still in its infancy and yet to finalise its rules and long term strategy. Until such times as these points are confirmed it would be difficult to know how much, if any, dialogue there will between the club and the WHUST."

Why was there no apology about the "5,000 missing tickets" for the Chelsea game, which forced fans to queue and miss the start of the game?

Says Steve Kitcher, ticket office manager:

"There weren't any "missing" tickets; the lengthy queues for duplicate tickets were caused by the following reasons: Firstly, post sent out by us as early as Friday, 1st of February, failed to arrive by the match day. Secondly, a Royal Mail collection scheduled for the morning of Monday, 4th February, failed to materialise, and this affected a whole weekend's worth of bookings.

"These problems trebled the number of collections normally allowed from the ticket office, and once the full situation became apparent on the Monday a number of companies/venues were contacted in an attempt to arrange temporary collection points; but, for a number of reasons, mainly the timescale, this was not possible.

"Every supporter that contacted the office has received a detailed personal reply from myself, explaining what happened and apologising for any inconvenience caused."

Why did we sell Marc Vivien Foe?

"This was a decision taken by the manager. Marc had made it clear he would like to return to France and at the time we needed to raise money to finance the purchase of Frederic Kanoute. Taking these factors into account, the board sanctioned both transactions."

When will tickets be available to buy over the internet?

"A member of ticket office staff is currently working on this task and we are confident that via the club's official website, an online ticket request facility will be fully operational in readiness for season ticket renewals; we will then be able to accept ticket requests for next season once details are announced. As yet, we have not decided whether this facility is going to be available for season ticket holders and Club members only."

Are there sell on clauses when we sell young players?

"No two deals are ever the same, but where possible we always try to include a sell on clause when transferring a player."

Why are three directors doing the job one used to?

"The structure has not changed during the past ten years. When Terence Brown took over as Chairman, Peter Storrie was MD, Richard Skirrow was the Financial Controller and Tom Finn was the Football Secretary. Currently myself, Nick Igoe (Finance Director), and Peter Barnes fill these roles. The business has grown massively in this period and obviously a number of further senior positions have evolved, especially in the commercial and hospitality side of the club. During the Chairman's tenure the turnover has soared from £2m to £50m and we now operate as a 24 hour/7 days a week business."

Why don't we go to the far east to play and win fans?

"We looked very closely at the Far East market last season when we discussed the possibility of bringing Tsuneyasu Miyamoto to the Club from leading Japanese club Osaka Gamba. Unfortunately, the transfer could not be concluded for various reasons. However we have continued a relationship with a number of Japanese contacts and I would not rule out future ventures together."

When do the Fila and Dr Martens agreements end?

"Both the current Fila and Dr Martens agreement end in June 2003. We are currently discussing with both companies the possibility of extending the existing agreement."

What is the transfer budget for the summer and can you assure us we are not going to be selling our good young players such as Cole, Carrick, and Defoe?

"I do not believe we will see the same level of transfer activity next season compared with previous years. Like most other Premiership clubs our player wage bill has increased disproportionately to our income. Having made operating losses (before player trading) over the past two seasons this year we hope to make a small operational profit but again will make a loss once player trading is taken in to account.

"The only way further player purchases can be considered is by increased borrowings; this would put further pressure on the club's balance sheet and would have to be seriously considered by the board before sanctioning an increase in our level of indebtedness.

"I am pleased to confirm to supporters, however, that there is no requirement to sell any of our existing squad and despite much press speculation we have made it quite clear to any enquiring club that none of the above players are available for transfer."

Will 'kids for a quid' continue?

"Yes, the details for next season's ticket policy will be announced soon."

Do you think there will be a drop in TV revenue?

"Since the collapse of the ITV digital deal with the Nationwide Clubs much has been written about TV revenues. I disagree with many who believe that the value of Premiership football will fall once the current contract expires. Sky has created an excellent business founded on Premiership football and without this I could not imagine they could retain their subscriber and advertising revenues. The clubs would have to consider broadcasting their own rights should a media partner not be prepared to meet the demands of the League.

"All the data suggests there is no reduction in the interest of Premiership football; in fact, the popularity of top football in this country has never been greater around the world.

"The real test for Premiership clubs is how to retain some of the revenue the TV contract has generated, rather than continuing to be the conduit for merely passing all the income and, in many cases more, to the players and their agents."