O'Neill: Season Ticket Announcement on Wednesday
Monday, 15th Apr 2019 10:49
Town general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill has revealed that season ticket prices for 2019/20, the Blues’ first campaign in the third tier for 62 years, will be announced on Wednesday.
O’Neill was speaking in an in-depth interview with Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk’s breakfast show this morning (from 1hr 10mins 10secs).
“We’re going to be coming out on Wednesday with that,” O’Neill said. “The club will make an announcement on Wednesday regarding the season tickets.”
Asked whether the news are likely to put smiles on faces, with price cuts of around 15-20 per cent believed to have been under consideration, he added: “I very much hope so, we’ve gone through a lot of consultation, we’ve listened and spoken to a lot of people.
“[Season ticket holders] are really important for us for next season and we need their support more than ever.”
Town had 10,200 season ticket holders this season, a total which was up on the previous campaign.
O’Neill reiterated his March comments regarding the hit the business side of the club will take from relegation which the club expects to total £9 million.
Media money alone will drop by £6-£7 million, which has been about 40 per cent of total revenue in recent seasons, while commercial income, sponsorship and gate receipts are also set to be reduced.
Player wages will be cut in line with clauses included in contracts, while the Blues will have to adhere to League One’s SCMP Financial Fair Play rules, which stipulate that player wages can’t be any more than 60 per cent of turnover, 75 per cent in the first year down from the Championship, although with three-year contracts signed before September of the relegation year and those of young pros aged under 21 not counting towards the cap.
“We will look at all areas of the club,” O’Neill said when asked about how the reduction in income will be addressed. “It’s very unfortunate because we find ourselves in this situation [that] as part of the football business side of the club we will have to look at areas that we might have to streamline.
“And there might be some other sides of the business that might need to make more investment in.
“Any kind of business operating in a situation like we’re in now would would have to look at all of those areas to make sure the club is stable going forward.”
Owner Evans issued an apology to fans yesterday and also outlined his plans for the future with younger players forming a key element.
“I think it’s an important point to make, we’re talking about young players, not just the youth players [coming through the academy], it’s young players in general,” O’Neill added. “Our recruitment policy will be around young players.
“We have got some really good young players in the club, they need time to develop and they need help, they can’t do that [on their own], so that’s where the likes of our senior players will help those senior players in the games and they need to play.
“We’ve already seen over the course of this season when they’ve been given opportunities they underperform sometimes to what they’re capable of and then sometimes they overperform, they excite you and they make you feel proud again. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride with some of the younger players.
“With Marcus, he’s making continuing investment as he’s always done, I think what’s important to highlight is that we are looking really at the next three to four years of those younger players and making sure we have a core of a team.”
O’Neill says promotion in the first year back will be the aim: “That is the plan, we will be doing that and Marcus will be making investments into the areas where we don’t have players coming through or they’re not up to the standard we require. Then investment will be made into the team.”
The former Blues youth player, who still retains his role as academy manager despite having taken on his new position towards the end of last year, had praise for the Blues’ support, who he felt helped delay confirmation of the club’s relegation.
“The situation on Saturday might have occurred a few weeks before that it if it wasn’t for the fans,” he said. “They’ve kept the players going and all the staff and will be a real core part of the club going forward.
“When you look at the season in general, obviously the amount of change that we had from last season, and they’ve stuck by that and the point has been made about entertaining football and them enjoying the games and I think that has been an area that we have tried to make improvements on.
“It’s taken time and unfortunately we haven’t got enough results. And it is a results business, we haven’t got enough points on the board and that’s why we find ourselves in the position we are in today.”
Asked where the season went wrong and whether signing too many League One players was a big factor, O’Neill reflected: “I think it’s difficult to point at one single incident that caused the problem we’re in today. I think it’s a cumulation, we’ve got to look at everything and learn from all of those areas.
“Yes, we were in a situation last year when we needed to look at a new way forward for the club and there was a lot of change. That would be players coming in and players going out.
“I’m not going to comment on the decisions on why players have left the building, but a lot of new players did come in and they take time to settle.”
Too many new players? “A lot of players did come in. But they were needed because there were a number of players who didn’t necessarily want to be part of the new plan going forward.
“We [were] in a situation where we had to bring in some players to make sure we had the squad that could be competitive this year in the Championship.
“If you’ve watched most of the games this year, although we haven’t had the results to win, we’ve definitely been head-to-head and been really competitive with most of the teams in the Championship.
“I think we’ve had something like 16 draws and that’s not good enough. You can’t that number of games we had to get more wins. That’s the difference from being in the relegation zone [and being safe].”
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