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Club News


26 July 2019

The first meeting between Cambridge United and Cambridge United Supporter' Panel took place last night at the Abbey Stadium, with CUSP bringing forward the topics raised by the wider fanbase.

Thursday 25 July 7.30 -  Abbey Stadium

Cambridge United - Dave Matthews Jones (Chair), Shaun Grady, Ian Mather, Godric Smith, Graham Daniels (Board); Ben Strang, Andy Beattie, Gareth Daniels, Tom Stewart (Staff)

CUSP - Nigel Browne (Chair), Mark Mumford, David Burkett, Ben Payne, Paul Moffat, James Mill, Andy Fox, Chris Nield

Minutes of Meeting

Football Update

There had been a deliberately different approach to pre-season - fewer games, better opposition and better playing surfaces. We had been expecting a strong Leicester City team and we certainly had not been disappointed.  Whilst hard to quantify there was a widely held view that the Largs trip had been very valuable both from a training and team bonding point of view. We understood fans’ disappointment that games had taken place behind closed doors but these had ultimately not been our decisions.

3 or 4 new additions to the squad were expected before the first game at Bradford City with announcements likely next week. The Club recognised we needed to strengthen the forward line in particular but it was the same for many clubs. In an inflated market we wanted to make sure we got it right. Gary Deegan was still in hospital but fortunately now on the mend. Everyone wished him well. The Club also expected to announce a replacement for Kevin Pilkington as Goalkeeping Coach shortly.

In answer to questions it was made absolutely clear that no player was signed without the authority of the Head Coach. There was always healthy robust discussion about different options but the Head Coach would always have the final say. It was explained that the decision regarding Jevani Brown had not been straightforward but ultimately it had been taken by the Head Coach on advice from Ben Strang and discussed in detail and sanctioned by the Board. Without getting into detail which had to remain confidential the Club believed it was also the right financial decision and confirmed the sale included a sell on fee. It is important to remember Jevani was in the last year of his contract.

2)    Investor Talks

The Board confirmed it had had approaches from a number of potential investors since October last year expressing an interest investing in or complete ownership of the Club. Alongside it had also been in talks with majority owner Paul Barry on his future plans for the Club. 

From these numerous exploratory meetings and talks three formal proposals had come forward. In reaching a judgement on the potential way ahead the Board had been guided by four key principles 

- Cultural Fit. The Board recognised it is the custodian of the Club on behalf of the fans so any sole owner must have the Club’s values at heart

- Value to Existing Shareholders. Any offer should include some financial payment to existing shareholders for their investment. 

- Long Term Financial Commitment. L2 Clubs lose on average £500,00pa. Any sole owner would need to commit to meet them for a significant period of time 

- Ambition for the Club. A new investor/owner would need to have appropriate ambition for the development and progress of the Club on and off the pitch after stabilising in the league 

The Board is now in sole discussion with one party and expected to be in a position to make a recommendation to shareholders shortly. We would endeavour to update Shareholders, CUSP and fans as soon as we were in a position to do so. 

3) Training Facilities / Potential New Ground

The Club updated on where talks were with Marshall. We had discussed with them the potential scope of new training facilities on their Marleigh site. Talks were continuing around funding and design but were very positive and we hoped to have new training facilities by 2022 at the latest. We were very grateful to Marshall for the opportunity.

A new Stadium for Cambridge United was part of the Marshall wider vision for the potential redevelopment of the airfield site but there was clearly a lot that needed to happen with the project more widely before anything could progress to the next stage for the Club. The Club was very aware that there had been false dawns on relocation and would endeavour to keep fans updated when there was something material to report.

4) Fan’s Funding / United In Endeavour Fund

A Club sponsor had provided £2000 for a United in Endeavour Fund aimed at improving the match day experience for fans. The Club was keen for CUSP to oversee this and spend it in the best way they saw fit for the benefit of fans. This was widely welcomed. There was a wider discussion about fans themselves potentially contributing towards player costs. Everyone agreed that there were challenges with this but that any wider funding contribution from fans for the Club could only be a good thing.  It was agreed that CUSP would look at how they could potentially develop the UIE Fund as a wider Fans’ Fund for the Club over time. The Club also undertook to promote the Cambridge United Lottery more over the course of the season recognising the good work that had come from it over the years.

5) Volunteers

There was a discussion around volunteering at the Club. It was acknowledged that the Club already benefitted from a massive amount of volunteer good will - in ground maintenance and on match days in the shop in particular. We could always do with more so anyone potentially interested should contact Gareth Daniels at the Club.

6) Fans’ Zone

The Chair gave an update on the Fans’ Zone which aimed to encourage fans to come to the ground and have the chance to mix before the game, recognising it was hard to move from one part of the ground to another once you were inside. It would be in Habbin South and all being well  - would be open for the Newport game on 10 August. This was a new initiative which everyone welcomed. All comments and feedback on the concept and how it could be improved would be very valuable.

7) Away Travel

There had been a number of concerns expressed by supporters about the away travel over recent months. The Club had had a number of meetings with fans to improve the service to make it both more affordable and a more enjoyable experience. It was not run for a profit. There was now a simpler funding structure, reduced pricing for August and additional pick up points to the North of Cambs. It was encouraging that a double decker coach for Bradford had virtually sold out. The issue was raised of last season with fans wanting to book late being unable to do so even when there were spare places. The Club undertook to ensure this could not happen and welcomed all suggestions going forward on what more could be done to make the service more attractive.

8) Programme

There was a discussion about how the programme could be improved. The Club was obviously keen that there was as much content as possible that fans wanted to read and was there for fans by fans. There had been some meetings with CUSP members over the summer on how to involve fans more and these would continue over the coming months. The Club was aware that we needed to have more original content that was not simply available on the website. There was an open invitation for any fan who wanted to help to contact CUSP or Tom Stewart at the Club.

9) Customer Service

Concerns had been raised with CUSP by fans on customer service at the Club from phone answering response times through to the way some questions were dealt with. This had been particularly acute around season ticket renewal deadline. The Club explained some of the staffing constraints at busy times but undertook to look at the issues and report back at the next meeting on steps to address the concerns. A small number of fans had also raised the issue regarding payment at tea bar on Tuesday where there had not been able to be served as there was not enough change. The Club recognised that there had been an issue at one bar with float and was sorry this had happened. It was a one off issue.

10) Kit

There was a discussion around kit for next season which would be the 50th anniversary of the Club first entering the league in 1971. Fans had welcomed the chance to be involved in the kit design for the new season and there was agreement that this should continue. Production schedules meant that designs for the next season had to be finalised around the turn of the year. The Club would engage CUSP and fans on this over the coming months recognising the importance of the anniversary. It was confirmed that all kit designs were recommended to and ultimately signed off by the Board.

11) Mentally Healthy CUFC

Everyone recognised the important work that the Club was doing in this area. Following ‘A Royal Team Talk’ on the BBC which was filmed at the Club a number of fans had asked what more the Club could do in this area for supporters. CUSP were keen to explore this with the Club which the Club warmly welcomed. One member was very involved in mental health in local junior football. It was agreed to take the issue away together and come back with a plan of what might be possible.

12) Advertising Boards

It was pointed out that the replacement of the match day boards with the digital advertising on Newmarket Road meant that some casual fans didn’t know about upcoming games. A CUSP member had been approached by a friend who passed the ground regularly and would have come to the Leicester game had he known it was on. The Club is aware of the issue and actively looking at how we can revert back to a fixture board outside the ground.

The meeting concluded with all attendees from Cambridge United and CUSP thanking Dave Matthew-Jones for his excellent chairmanship of the meeting and the discussions raised.

A number of other issues were also raised with the Club by CUSP. These are detailed below as a written Q and A. The next meeting will be held in the autumn. 

1)      Can fans be given more information about youth team / academy etc?

We will endeavour to bring supporters more information about the Club's Youth Team and Academy for the forthcoming season. At the request of the Academy staff, we keep results from our Academy age group fixtures confidential. This is common practice at most League clubs. We will however look to introduce a more regular online and programme feature (initially once a month) from the likes of Academy Manager Tom Pell. This will ensure we are providing fans with more information on any tours, notable fixtures or other events that our academy age groups have been involved throughout each month of the season.

With regards the youth team, our ability to provide more news is largely dictated by the Club’s resource given we only have one member of media staff at the Club and their time is inevitably focussed around the first team. Often the youth team play on the same day in different locations. The Club would welcome suggestions from fans on how we could potentially fill this gap, whilst obviously also ensuring that coverage is of a good enough editorial standard.

2)      What is the structure and staffing levels for the 19/20 season - including the Trust?

In line with the information recently reported at both the AGM, and in response to CFU’s questions in relation to Club staffing levels, the table below demonstrates the staffing levels, and annual change from 2017/18 to 2018/19. We expect staffing levels to remain broadly similar for the current season. For example since May Barry Corr has been added to the 1stTeam Coaching staff but we have not replaced Alex Fraser as Head of Recruitment. 

The 1st Team & Academy staff report into Ben Strang as Head of Football, the Club staff (Ian Darler & Mick Brown) report into Andy Beattie; the Finance team into Finance Director, Duncan Foyle; and the Business team into Henry Comfort, Chief Operating Officer.


FTE - 2017/18

FTE - 2018/19

1st Team


















For 19/20 we anticipate the Community Trust employing 9 Full Time staff and 4 Part Time staff. The Trust is obviously a separate legal entity and a registered charity so there is no direct cost to the Football Club. The Trust raises all its own funds through donations, fundraising events and grants.

3)      What is the Club doing to raise funds from non matchday activity at the Club?

We are keen to maximise revenue from non match day activity and have taken a number of positive steps to try to increase funds over recent months whilst exercising caution over costs. There has been an increase in the number of new sponsorship deals and corporate partnerships and we have established the Club’s Business network (The 100 Club) to help develop this further. We have signed a new multi-year kit deal with hummel which we hope will be profitable over the medium term. We have also looked to expand the Club’s youth development programmes in certain areas (e.g. a 70% increase in Girls Development Centre coaching hours for 2019/20) recognising the need to be cautious in our forecasts.

There are always potential further projects which could enable the Club to generate additional funds, such as running other major events at The Abbey, but often these sorts of projects require up front investment by the Club with some element of risk attached. We will always consider them on a case by case basis.

The Club has reduced its overheads with around half the staff now on the business side compared to 17/18. We are more efficient, have some excellent people at the Club who have developed some first class relationships across the business community in particular and we are always ambitious to do more. But we are determined to do so recognising the constraints and the need to avoid the mistakes of the past.

4)      What are our ballboy selection and training policies?

In the past, ball boys/girls have been chosen through local teams approaching the Club and volunteering to assist in this capacity. It has been a great opportunity for community engagement and we are incredibly grateful for everyone who has helped over the years. Equally we recognise that to do this well ball boys / girls do need proper training and oversight which we haven’t always been able to give them.

We have reviewed the position over the summer and have decided to take a slightly different approach this season. The Academy & Mark Bonner are now taking on the selection themselves using players from our own Club pathways. We have a Lead Matchday Coach (Ashley Taylor) who will oversee the ball boys/girls, and it has also been agreed that Mark Bonner will give them a briefing prior to the game to convey the importance of their role and how they can best perform it on a matchday.

We have wanted to add to the level of professionalism by improving the kit for the new season. Hummel have kindly agreed to provide this free of charge for the ball boys and girls.

5)      What steps are the Club taking to improve the audibility of the PA system?

We obviously want everyone to be able to hear the PA system at the Club and do recognise it is dated. We recently commissioned some work from a local AV company regarding how we might improve the current system in the short term without the need for significant capital funding for new speakers for example - funding which we don’t have at the current time.  Any changes would obviously still come at a cost and we are considering how best we might meet it before taking a decision on how best to proceed.

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