John Nixon - Radio Cumbria Studio Guest

John NixonBlues managing director John Nixon was BBC Radio Cumbria's studio guest on Friday evening's SportsHour programme, Nixon speaking to Paul Newton about a number of issues regarding Carlisle United :


Personal Life

Busy summer, good season last year on field, little bit more difficult off field financially. Lot of work to do taking health check with club in May, lot going on now, some players left and some came in. Pretty busy and intense over last few weeks. Busy for him with Football League Trust role, does work in May, AGM early June, was doing Trust work at end of May. Has holiday in June then back to work.

Football League representative for League One, split 3 Championship, 2 League One and 1 League Two. Meeting every month, 8 of 12 in London, 1 or 2 in Preston, couple on phone. Tries to protect interest of League One clubs as well as Carlisle, been chasing up new website in last 10 days for clubs concerned about speed of it.

Football League Trust done 2 or 3 times a month, meeting at Brunton Park today with Operating Officer. Doing a lot of programmes involved in football and delivering other government programmes, like National Citizen Service Programme. Disassociated ourselves with Youth Development funding from Football League Trust because of EPPP. Will be funded differently from this month onwards.

Season starts late with Olympics and ends early due to Champions League final at Wembley, plus World Cup qualifying games at Wembley. Always excited about a new season, can't wait until we kick-off. Every day is a challenge, go in every morning, never know what is going to happen, never know who is going to be on phone, whether it is agent, footballer or little problem or what went wrong or well on Saturday. Fantastic challenge every morning, still enjoying it, good always outweighs bad.




Won't have a real effect on CUFC, were running rules last season as trial, have to be at 65% wages out against turnover, will be just below 60% mark. If you get within 5% of hitting 65% have to report all figures into Football League and start to get into a restrictive area. Paying wages out at maximum level we can with business we can see going forward.

If owner elsewhere doesn't want money back he can gift money to club to get round rules. Directors loan wouldn't count because you want money back. Some of big clubs will get big benefactors to put money in, but should give a more even playing field.



Restructuring at Brunton Park

Do health check in business at least every 12 months. Two or three things going on in football, League One clubs getting £70,000 less from Football League because TV deal for Football League is less for next three years. Can't see crowds will increase because of lack of away fans from Huddersfield and Sheff Wed, replaced by Coventry, Doncaster and maybe Portsmouth.

Really good season last season and came 8th, but still had pretty flat crowd and only made average up towards end of season. Looking forward can see gap between income and outgoings of probably £300,000. So, hard to see how to bring that down to zero while taking on new people.

Because within new EPPP have had to take on more full-time people, like a full-time physio, so some part-time jobs gone to take on full-time. Trying to get another coach because youth now goes through to age 21. Appointed new shop manager, been looking for for a year. Sharing jobs and making business more cost efficient.



Playing Budget

Not gone through that in cuts, tried to hold it at same level as last year. Been difficult, some players have had reduced salaries and some increased. Looking at approximately same budget as want to be in and around top six and above. Been making it more efficient and bringing in players who are better value for money, and on non-playing side looking where we can save money.



Break-Even Figure

Need to get 5,500 average for season. When get 3,500 on Tuesday night v Rochdale it causes big problem. 6,000 would help significantly. Not making progress, competing with television, football on 7 nights a week. More coming this season, could have to play on Thursday night, so then have to move Saturday to Sunday which could affect income.

Have to look at last season, never out of top 10 from mid-September onwards so if that doesn't get people interested you have to look elsewhere. More half-time entertainment? Facilities? Got to have facilities to encourage people to turn out on wet windy winter afternoon so want new stadium.

Need to look in other areas. Have family tickets and got family award for excellence last year. Talked with Andrew Jenkins today and might try one or two meal deals and other things that we haven't done before. Will try new things to bring people but conscious of battling against television audience.



SKY Money

In some cases with SKY there is fixed deal and you probably get £20,000 or £30,000 and in some cases down to £10,000 in JPT. SKY deal with Football League, they give certain amount which he doesn't know, we get a facility fee so we get compensation for loss of crowd. Rest of SKY money goes into pot and shared out across Football League.

Having SKY money for a game probably doesn't compensate the crowd loss but have to accept football is going that way. Also have to accept that getting public to live games on wet, windy Tuesday night on terraces at Brunton Park is becoming more difficult so trying to get new stadium and new facilities and a new start to give crowd something going forward.




Paid another £100,000 to Story Construction in financial year of July 2011 so debt is now £1.1 million without any interest. Going to be really difficult, don't think we will get anything off that debt in next 12 months because financially last year was significantly more difficult off field to last 2 years.

Didn't have cup income, 2009-10 JPT money £777,000, 2010-11 was £422,000, 2011-12 was £386.90 from losing at Accrington after they had paid expenses. Trying to run club to break-even or slightly better so we can eat into debt and we do get things coming forward. Done well in transfer market thanks to good scouting work and youth policy and buying wisely. Do sometimes get surplus funds to use towards paying debt off. So there are opportunities but trying to break even or better each year has to be the aim to eat into it.



Progress On New Stadium

Disappointed to not have had meeting with council or anyone this year. Process started off 2 years ago and 18 months ago in February 2011 Frank Whittle Partnership were meeting with council and getting encouragement. Last August council said they were going to appoint consultants on the 3rd and on 25th said they were appointing them. 12 months later never seen a report so don't know what has happened.

Nixon got extremely concerned after going public as had to let shareholders know what was going on. Asked for meeting in December, was assured things were progressing, developer may have had 2 meetings this year and that's all.

Thinks we have strong support from politicians in charge last year and new politicians, like Joe Hendry. Thinks that at Officer level in council they are very, very slow, might be making encouraging noises but we aren't making progress and we are at point where we are having to try with developers to talk with local MPs and local leader of council to see what is happening.

Unless we and developer can get 75 to 80% assurance that the project is worthwhile then he is not going to spend money required for planning permission and environmental studies to push it forward. We are spending no money on it until council say it has a really good chance of progressing because we would spending good money after bad.

After exhibition held at club got well over 95% of supporters saying they support it. Good for Carlisle, supporters, City of Carlisle to show growth and going in right direction. So, we are at a complete loss as to why council are not progressing, other things on go yes like Airport, Morton, elections but concerned that progress is not being made on a real opportunity to do so.

Politically fans can pressurise councillers to say get on with things. We are going to try with MP, leader of council and developer to push it forward. Have to apply as much pressure as possible, want project and city to progress but need people to do something.

Developers are quite confident on enabling development. Key issues are council allowing to developers to do the other things around stadium to build it and get something out of it. Developers are extremely frustrated, but they look forward anywhere from 5 to 20 years so would hope to keep hold of them to maintain their interest. But need a signal from council that they want to do it for future of Carlisle, looking at 2015 or 2016 when development starts to come together, think of the jobs in the meantime.

Says to council clock is ticking, main aim would be to get in Championship and stay there. 3 years of grace would mean muddling together after that in terms of seating or maybe closing sections of ground. Key to being in Championship is staying there.

Within next 6 to 12 months will see if there is real chance of moving. If not then plan B of progressive investment in Brunton Park, but would be struggling. Don't have press and television facilities, good fan facilities particularly in bad weather, hardly have enough office space either. Controlled plan would be over long period of 5 to 10 years.



Site Of New Stadium

Difficult to put near city centre, looked at all sites and only place with space for enabling development, similar to Chesterfield and York, got site and space at Kingmoor. Other sites too small and not allow enabling development cash. Need to build stadium in region of £18-20 million as a 12,000 all-seater to say it is a move in the right direction.

Rugby Club and Brunton Park together looked at by consultants, not big enough for enabling development. Lot of new stadiums built out of town, Shrewsbury and York, taken traffic and some fans away from city centre. Some away fans police would prefer we took away from centre, fans here on motorway, watch game, away on motorway, would probably make city centre a better place.

Story loan wouldn't need to be paid in full selling Brunton Park, would use some to pay it off. Surplus funds invested in team or additional facilties at new stadium. Already an unused rail line so could be a possibility at a new stadium, but very, very likely to have park and ride situation.



Cost Of Development At Brunton Park

First aim is to get in Championship, would have three years to get all-seater. No seats in Waterworks, imagine how much that would cost. East Stand off-centre and can't move it due to flood defences. No seating in Warwick Road End which is an old agricultural building put up for shelter.

Main stand put together in 1950s and two wings built later. Need to replace Waterworks, Warwick and Main Stand as have no concourses like other clubs to make money. Would need to move East Stand one way or chop one end off. Figures done by consultants and it is fairly hefty whack of £18 million when it could be spent on team.

Another location means we are enabled to get that £18 million so doesn't come off team money. So that is the route as directors we have to take. Chicken and egg on stadium and team money, capacity of 16,000 in Conference, must have a good stadium and a good team.




Backward step to go back to 7 substitutes. Managers wanted it more to take young players away for experience, could have done that with 5. More players is extra bedroom, evening meal, pre-match meal, subs share in bonuses and chance of sharing in appearance money. 5 worked last year, one or two managers unhappy, some of clubs voting for 7 are skint. Across all leagues in region of saving £10 million by having 5 instead of 7.




Couldn't vote in Football League meeting about Portsmouth due to vested interest as competition but did take part in debate. Unless administrator can secure club before season starts there is a possibility they could disappear. None of full-time professionals have gone on pre-season trip to Spain, amazing to go there when they have no money, beggars belief when can't pay creditors.

Not in interest of Football League or anyone for them to disappear as it has negative impact on league and community in Portsmouth, impact would be devastating. Got to meet some stringent issues alongside 10 point deduction, got to be sorted before they start season, could go to deadline.



Richard Keogh

Have sell-on clause. Always try to get sell-on but we have sell-on also to Bristol City. Don't know what Coventry's is with Derby. Been talking to Coventry today and knows bones of deal. We only get sell-on amount over and above the amount we received, think we got £150,000 initially before we gave something to Bristol City.

Three-year deal at Derby so money will trickle in over that period. If you get it upfront then you probably spend it, trickles in then cashflow-wise you know where it is. Guaranteed every July for next 3 years, not a huge amount but a welcome amount.



Gary Madine

Didn't get big sell-on so not a lot would come back. Different type of deal, so much put down, so much paid, playing in League One got ratio of half a game per game, Championship one to one, Premier League two to one. Money dependent on appearances and if manages to play in more than 50% of games and they stay in Championship and if plays in 50% and they go up to Premier League. So it is a complex deal you look at two or three times to season to guess money coming in, but a good one which will bring us money if he continues to play well.



Undisclosed Fees

Is the other side in many cases. Confidential financial agreement which other club may not want disclosed. Madine, Sheff Wed had huge debts of £22-23 million, Milan Mandaric came in and took that debt away but probably not all of it, creditors therefore lost money. Within months were buying players who may or may not work out so didn't want to embarrass themselves and other creditors who got nothing like St Johns Ambulance.



New Owners

Not heard of any coming forward, none at all. If new person or company came along, or an investor to invest heavily in club and it is right for CUFC then there is always real interest and the directors would step aside. Interests of club come before what we are trying to do.



Playing Squad

Would be extremely surprised if not one or two more new players before season starts. Agents have own interests at heart and sometimes agents persuade players to get better money elsewhere so he can get a fee, keeping a player means he doesn't get a fee. Players basically an honest bunch, know what they are worth, know the market is difficult, know there are a lot of them looking for work. In last 12 months been significant change in attitude and more realism in understanding market values are going down.

Agents not returning calls like Jordan Cook is pretty common, always had an aim to get him into Championship and were going to do that at whatever price with Championship wages and opportunities. They kept us on and on and on until he signed for Charlton.

Down to Greg on signing new players when he gets player he wants, squad is thin on ground, has got trialists in there to prove their worth over next 7 to 10 days. When he says he has got the guy he wants a week on Monday when we meet we will move forward and get what he is after hopefully.

Can't speak for manager but highly unlikely to go back in for Tom Taiwo or Francois Zoko. Zoko offered improved contract, one of few to get that and he turned it down. I don't know if he has anything fixed up but we have definitely no plans to go back and offer we made lapsed on 30th June and has gone.

Same with Taiwo, doubt very much offer would be renewed. Have to keep paying him as he is under 24, pay him at old wage for a period of time to retain interest in him to ensure we get compensation value for him if he joins another club. If he doesn't get another one then at end of August highly likely that we go to tribunal and ask for interest to be retained and apply to stop paying him.

Important to get people tied down to longer deals, down to manager, he gives me the news that he wants to do it. Some players on one-year deals with number of games making an automated process on getting a second year. In July and August important to get existing players to keep and new players in and at end of August start to look at existing players.



Season Tickets

100 or so up on last year, pretty pleased with that. Young person's one gone well, family tickets on day, direct debit system with 500 people paying over 10 months had big impact on cashflow. Hasn't made it positive but over next 10 months will get cash in.