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Dave Roberts Q&A Answers
05 August 2010 22:17 Post ID: #276139
76 John McClelland
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The Vital Dave Robert’s Q&A

OK Dave thanks for agreeing to do a warts and all Q&A.

Q. I will get stuck in with the one that I think some will want an answer to. What is the reason behind the use of a Lincoln City e-mail address for what appears to be work for another company?
Dean

I assume you are referring to The Works website, and it was an error on their part, and once it was brought to my attention, they corrected it. It was an innocent error on their part. They had previously dealt with me when they purchased some commercial packages from the club. Being as I was well aware of their company, I suggested that Forum Computers advertised with the club, and they carried my details carried over in error. As I said, an innocent error on their part, dealt with, and I never received any emails as a result.

Q. Dave what are your day to day duties at the club?
Dean

The Chairman and directors are all volunteers, and I run the club on a day to day basis, managing the staff, from the office, bars, stadium, shop, commercial, lottery, website, etc. While I don’t tend to interfere with the pro or youth side, I do handle the transfers, and the budget control. What also goes with the job? The big thing is the ultimate health and safety responsibility, and I represent the club on the safety and advisory committee, and also deal with all employment issues at the club.

In a nutshell, my role is to generate as much money as possible for the manager to spend, while maintaining the best long term interests of the club, and ensuring the long term stability of the club, which I am well supported and assisted by the Directors in doing so.

Q. Dave, can you explain how you ended up as CEO of Lincoln City and did you consider leaving when Steff Wright announced he was standing down as Chairman?
Lindumimp

I joined the club as General Manager 1st May 2003, two days before Simon Yeo slammed the ball in against Torquay in the last minutes of the game, and to send Lincoln into the play offs!

The job was advertised, I applied along with 70 others, I was one of 12 to be interviewed, and three were short listed for a 2nd interview and I was honoured to be appointed. The CEO role evolved a few years after that, as I took on extended responsibility for accounting, etc.

Did I consider leaving following the announcement? No.

Rob Bradley was the Chairman who appointed me, followed by Steff. However, all Directors work extremely hard for the club, and give me good support, and it’s not all about the Chairman, although they are obviously the figure head of the club. Also, I had never met any of the current or previous directors before joining the club, so my loyalty is to the club, not one individual.

Q. Dave, could you please explain why Micheal Caine left the club and was there any costs involved.
Freelanderimp

While I’m happy to be open about myself, because that is my choice, I cannot go into details about specific employees.

*Vital Ed note.....not sure this question was appropriate as all questions regards specific employees/players contracts normally have to be off limits, normal practice.

Who's Michael Caine?
Luke Imp

He was the previous Kitman.

Wasn't he ill? He was the old kitman
Chopperimp

He was the Kitman.


Q. Hello Dave
Will the club be banning the vuvuzela?
Gary Parle (and you have my full support if they are!)
Southparkerimp

We have no specific experience of Vuvuzelas at Sincil Bank, and will judge all things within the spirit of our ground regulations. Whilst we would always encourage anything that enhances the match day atmosphere, if we deem them to constitute an unreasonable nuisance or annoyance to other spectators, we will take action. (Which we are duty bound to do under the ground regulations)

Q. Hi Dave,
It was mentioned on the OS that construction work for the new access from South Park Avenue would take place during the summer. How is work progressing? Presumably quite well bearing in mind the unusually good weather we have had over the last few months? Are there any delays? If so what is the cause? It would be good to have an update for us exiles who live far from Lincoln. Can we see a plan showing the proposal?
Thanks
Berksimp

The route will be via the Fire Station land, and as such it requires an agreement to be in place with the County Council. While agreement in principle has been reached, concluding final signed and sealed agreements appear to take a long time. It is also very important that the work and end product is correct, and suits all parties concerned, which I feel is more important than completely it ASAP.


Q. Dave, following from Berksimps question. What is the uptake on the exec boxes as offices? Have they, in your view, been a success or will any new access mean they will be better served?
Lindumimp

We have been extremely successful over recent years at squeezing as much revenue out of the stadium on non match days as possible, but using the boxes outside of match days is still one that has not been fully exploited. With only one being leased out, it is problematic due to the required turn around each match day, so I’m currently exploring a partnership arrangement that will keep our cost exposure down, and try to develop a business centre based more on hot desking, and virtual office support.

Q. Re Celtic game
why was it possible to buy tickets in advance for the Gocar Stand then on the day find it wasn't open? I had wanted to sit in Poachers Corner I would have requested tickets for that section. Asking to be able to move elsewhere in the ground (it was all the same price) was turned down as it wasn't permissable to transfer into another stand (had the ground been full that would be understandable) yet Celtic supporters who had been sold tickets for the Gocar/Poachers Stand were transferred to the Coop Stand.
I've asked the question on here rather than emailing you directly because there were several other people raising the same points and they may be readers of this site so can see the answer.
Southparkerimp

I fully appreciate your frustration and take your points on board. The weeks leading up to the game, we were getting mixed reports of how many Celtic fans were coming, and needed to ensure that we could get them all inside the stadium, and keep a safe segregation. As it turned out on the day, far lower than expected came, and I will admit with the benefit of hindsight things could have been handled differently.


Q. David, as CEO do you hold a significant amount of shares in the club, or don,t you have any.
Freelanderimp

I do not own a significant amount of shares, and it is not a requirement of the role. I have purchased a small amount, to show support for the club. I feel it is important to do yourself what you encourage others to do. That is why I joined the Birthday Lotto, Weather lottery, Co-Op Dividend Card, and Supporters’ Trust when I first joined the club, and have continued with them since. I would encourage others to do the same!




Q. Hello Dave, can you explain to me why you charge people £1 for using a debit card? It costs about 20p for the transaction and even more to bank a cheque which is free? Do you not think it would help advance ticket sales if debit card transactions were free?

Towards the end of last season you had an offer on and all tickets were numbered, problem was adults could not go through the same turnstiles as there children which resulted in them getting completely different numbers and being forced to sit apart, have you remedied this problem?
Jamesimp

I believe the debit card charges we incur are 50p, but the credit card charges are a percentage of the transaction cost.
We felt it was important that the cash paying customers do not subsidise those paying by card, so wanted the cost to be covered by the customers that choose to use a card, but also did not want it to be complicated. Therefore, we make a £1 charge for all cards, and any value. This averages out across the season. (Following the same logic, we charge £5 for season tickets)



Q. What Connection Have You With FORUM COMPUTERS And Do You Spend Some Time During The Day, Most Weeks, 'Working' Or Involved With Them? Why Was Your Name And Contact Details Originally Shown On Advertising Material For Forum Computers Website And Then Removed When This Information Was Shown On A Message Board Aka In Public Domain?

Regarding my contact details, see previous answer.

At the start of this year, I approached the board, and asked if I could take a day off per week for a few months, without pay, to help a lifelong and very close friend at Forum Computers with some issues. My logic to the board was that being out of all the cups, etc, I could still cover my duties as the season ran its course, and also the club would save money, hence a win/win situation. They granted my request, but under the agreement I returned to full time work for the club at the end of the season. I therefore took every Wednesday off for those months, for a full proportionate pay reduction. I returned back to full time working at the end of the season, and while I still retain an interest in Forum Computers, any time or attention is in my own private time.

I should add, that during my time of reduced pay, I did not delegate down any roles, and in reality continued to handle the same volume of work, working outside of normal hours, so the club got the best end of the deal, and also by my involvement in Forum Computers it led to some new commercial clients, resulting in over £30,000 worth of new income to the club.


Why Were Both Michael Cain And Tom Spall, Both Long Term Employees Of The Football Club Removed From Their Roles? Is It True That The Phrase Industrial Tribunal Has Been Used In Both Cases? Is There A HR Problem At The Club?

Neither was removed from their role, and while I cannot discuss details of employees, I can say that in the years I have been here, there have been no Industrial Tribunals, and a very low turnover of staff. There is not a HR problem at the club, and I should add that we proudly carry the Investors in People award.

Q. How Much Damage Financially Is Being Caused By Sutton Wishing To End A Number Of Contracts Early And The Costs Of These Pay Offs?

Chris Sutton has a budget allocated to him, and his job is to manage that budget to achieve success, and in the case of last season, avoid relegation. Bringing players in, moving them out on loan, free transfer, or paying them off, is part of him managing that budget to the most effective way he feels will bring that success. To answer your question more directly, no financial damage has been caused, we avoided relegation!

Q. Given The Work That Ray Trew Has Done At Notts County In Such A Short Time Frame, Was It Folly For The Board To Lose Such A Talented Business Minded Individual?

I really do not feel it appropriate or of any value to open up the debate around the Ray Trew/Lincoln City saga, after so many years. Regarding your comment about the work done at Notts County, Ray inherited a very difficult financial situation at Notts County, and he appears to have done an excellent job in getting them through it. But he also inherited a promotion winning squad, so I wish him every success for the coming session in League 1.

Q. Does The Club Have An Undue Role And Influence In Unofficial Club Websites And Message Boards?

Thesource

The club has no role or influence in any unofficial club websites or message boards.

Q. What was the first car you ever owned?
Perthimp

To be honest, I favoured motor bikes in my youth, and could tell you every detail of every bike I’ve had since 14yrs, and how to strip and re-build many of them! However, I think it was about 25yrs old when I decided to pass my car test, and for the first couple of years I used to buy an old car for the winter, that had 6 months MOT and tax left on it, and then scrap it when summer came! The first one was either a Vauxhall Viva or an Austin 1300, not sure which one first, and I think it was £100, and I scrapped it for £25.


Q. Is the catering going back in house as it’s been awful for the last few years. Lukewarm coffee on a cold January day for £1.40.
Helgy
We have no plans to bring the catering back in house, and very few clubs do these days, for very good reasons. From the club perspective, the partnership with Double M is an excellent arrangement, and they are very sup portative of the club outside of that arrangement. Obviously they are very receptive to feedback, and we have mystery fan visits from the league twice a season and they generally rate well.


Q. Hi Dave,
do you think the club have pushed on since TCtH project finished with the exec boxes.. has anybody else taken up the opportunity.. Have the other boxes been refurbed.. Hopefully the relationship with the councils, the fire station and Lincs Enterprise are still going strong..
Chopperimp

See answer to previous question.

Q. Hi Dave, has your job role or responsabilities changed with a new Chairman in the hot seat?
???

Steff was in my view an excellent Chairman, and I enjoyed my close working relationship with him. Any new Chairman will have their own style and want to change things for the better, but my role has not changed significantly, and I’m sure Bob will be another excellent Chairman.

Q. Dave, on the financial side how are the revenue streams holding up compared to other seasons? Has sponsorship revenue decreased in the current economic climate or have the club managed to increase the income generated which are important means of funding? What roughly are you expecting turnover to be this year? What gates are the club using as a target for the financial plan 2010/11? And more importantly is it true you have been seen driving a taxi in Newark?
Lindumimp

We have an excellent set of staff, and revenue streams are holding up extremely well, and I would expect turn over to be about the same, unless of course we get to the 5th round of the FA cup! Our budget is for similar gates.
If I’ve been seen in a taxi in Newark, I will most defiantly have been in the back, and a night I may not be able to remember!

Q. Hi Dave, The new access should at least give players, staff and supporters a better feel for the ground, particularly if the parking is improved.

I think that it is the general wish of the fans that Lincoln City FC should stay at Sincil Bank. The ground does however need improving in order to provide better facilities, appearance and atmosphere in order to attract more fans, whether or not the team is doing well. The Echo stand is a “throwback” and the low rake of the seats in the Stacey West mean that the view is not what it could or should be.

Stand improvements would be at great cost and it is almost impossible to see how they could be afforded as there would be no assets to sell, to offset the cost.

On the other hand a well designed new ground within walking distance of the City centre would:

Provide a more visible landmark stadium.
Have a decent “kop” at the home end
Have a proper away end.
Have a main stand with corporate boxes running down the side of the pitch.
Offer better facilities including catering, toilets etc.
Have better transport access for travelling fans.
Provide much better car parking.
Have a better social side with bar function rooms etc.
Improve club income.
Provide a better atmosphere for fans.
Be closer to other amenities such as hotel or leisure.
Make the Club the focus of attention and more well known.
Attract new fans.

It may even be easier to fund a new ground if, like Chesterfield, the existing ground could be sold for retail or residential use, and the land for the new ground is provided courtesy of the City Council by way of a planning directive.
What is your take on the medium term plans for the home of Lincoln City?

How will they be afforded?

What is the timescale?

LINCOLN: YOUR CITY, YOUR CLUB.
Berksimps

There are no plans to relocate the stadium. While it would be desirable to replace the Echo stand, it is as you suggest not financially feasible in the short/medium term. However, we continue to invest in the current stadium as much as we can, without compromising the playing budget.

Q. Following on from the above post and parking, is the car park behind the SW going to be marked out properly?
I'm sure you could fit more cars in this was done.
Luke Imp

I agree that it should be better marked out, which we have looked at. However, besides cost, the issues are the loose nature of the surface.


Q. How much of the money raised by 12th Man goes towards the playing budget and how much is spent on lampshades?
Redclanger

The community structure of the club, with no share dividends, directors’ fees or director expenses being paid out, all income to the club stays in the club. Obviously the club has running costs, which are kept as low as possible, and generally do not increase due to unbudgeted income. Therefore, any additional unbudgeted income finds its way to the playing budget, just as any reduction in income will result in a reduction in playing budget the following season. Therefore, yes the 12th man money does ultimately result in a higher playing budget. I’m pleased to report that we have not spent any money on lamp shades for the last 3 seasons, floral design or otherwise!

Q. Did the board discuss the suggestion to try and encourage supporters to leave City a legacy in their wills ?
Charities do this with a lot of sucess so why can't football clubs at least attempt this. Also this could lead to potential adertising revenue from solicitors.
57harry

Following your suggestion, it was discussed at the board meeting, and the Directors left it with me to explore further. To be honest, I’m nervous about how to promote it, as it involves the death of loved ones, and people’s estate.


Q. If money was no object, which three players would you like to see in the red and white and why?
Pieslayingimp

David Beckham, because he would help with our push for football domination in the Far East. Shaun Wright-Phillips, because since Taylor-Fletcher left, we have seen a decline in our income from lettering on the back of fans shirts.
A Scottish goal keeper, don’t care which one, I just don’t like paying out clean sheet bonuses.

Thanks for all your questions, I look forward to seeing you down the Bank and if you ever want to talk I am always around the ground on match days so feel free to come up and say hello.

All the best and let’s hope 2010/11 will be our year, I will be working 100% to make that happen!

Regards,

Dave Roberts, CEO – Lincoln City FC
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