Q&A with Cardiff City’s Tom Gorringe

The club has changed its approach over the years in the way they want to treat fans on matchdays
by Anil Kadiyala   |   Friday, September 27, 2013

#FootyBiz - column on international football business, soccer marketing and finance.

Football clubs are starting to go beyond traditional ways to improve their relations with fans, especially on matchdays. One such club determined to make a strong impact on football fans is Cardiff City. The newly promoted club from South Wales has been making significant strides in this department to ensure they provide, what I call a complete package to not just the home fans but also visiting fans.

In an exclusive interview for Soccer Newsday, Tom Gorringe, marketing and sales manager at Cardiff City, talks about how the club has enhanced their approach towards ensuring fans have a good time at the Cardiff city stadium, something that has been missing in several other stadiums. 

Can you tell us more about Cardiff City’s matchday hospitality?

TG: Historically, going back 10 years Cardiff City were only known for one thing i.e. fighting. Thankfully those days are now a thing of the past with only 1 arrest taking place in the stadium last season. The change over this period has seen the club install a family ethos which runs through all various areas of the club most notably on a matchday. At the stadium we attempt to ensure that there are no barriers to entry for anyone wanting to come to the game so prices are reasonable and travel links are efficient. Once they are at the stadium we attempt to create an experience that far surpasses what happens on the pitch.

What is in store for home fans on matchdays?

TG: On a matchday we do a huge amount for our home fans to try to ensure that they have a great day with us. In our family stand we have live dance troops who perform Cardiff City themed dances, they then invite the children to join in and teach them the routines. We have 7 PlayStations, which are all free to play and set up with the latest FIFA for fans to play. There is a performance from our house-magician who performs magic and then invites children up to take part in some of the tricks. Following this we have 2 players from the 1st team squad go into the family stand prior to the game to do an interview and pose for pictures and autographs.  In addition we also have a skills section so junior fans can practice their skills on a varying football challenge each week, which takes place within the stand.

In our Visit Wales Canton Stand we have a live band that performs on the stage in the build-up to the game. All of the bands are sourced locally and they do a 45 minute set in the build-up to the match. It is important for us that we create a consistent matchday experience so all of the pre-mentioned happens at every home fixture.

Courtesy Cardiff City Staff

The club seems to have taken a different approach in the way they want to treat their away fans. Can you tell us everything that away fans can expect on their visit to Cardiff City Stadium?

TG: We have brought in a number of initiatives to bring the away experience in-line with that that the home fans such as:

- Teams shirts of the visiting team are worn by the concourse staff – these are donated to fans at halftime.

- DVD of the greatest goals played on the screen.

- All of our stewards have a customer service qualification and a renowned for giving an extremely warm welcome.

- Posters thanking them for traveling are displayed around the stand and given out for free at the concession stands.

- We have the fan pack with all the information they need to know about their trip, this can be found here.

- We have also set up an away twitter account @CardiffCityAway for all those visiting us to ask any questions they may have prior to the game.

This has all proven extremely popular over the course of the season with many members of the national press covering it as well as a great write up from the Premier League.

What was the motto behind coming up with such initiatives?

TG: We are simply trying to provide the best possible match day experience whilst striving to achieve service excellence in all areas.

How do you think the club can benefit from these initiatives?

TG: From a business point of view we constantly strive to provide value for money. If a fan comes and has a great day out, and leaves feeling that they have received value for money, then there should be no reason why they shouldn’t return. This is vitally important in building the fan base for years to come. In the away end we have seen a 9% increase in the spend from those visiting over since the addition of these initiatives. In addition we had 3 record attendances last season with 3 sell-outs at the start of this. Outside of the financials it is important for us as a club to demonstrate our ethos of being a family club in order to continue the changing perceptions. In addition it helps produce a fantastic atmosphere within the stadium which is an area of focus for the Premier League this season.

Why aren’t enough clubs doing something similar to what Cardiff city is doing on matchdays?

TG: There are a growing number of clubs that are starting to develop their away experience with Brighton serving guest ales from the visiting teams locality and lighting the stand in their colors and Reading who put branded away club t-shirts on their staff in the stand. However many see this as an unnecessary cost with all revenues invested in the playing squad and their own fans. There is a long lying myth in football that you get an advantage on the pitch by treating the away fans poorly off it. Hopefully we have proven over the past couple of season that this is not the case.

How has the response been so far this season when the club hosted Everton and Manchester City?

TG: The response has been superb. In the away end we have a thank you board of letters from those who have visited. This acts as a great reminded to all of our staff within the area why they do what they do. Since the 1st 2 fixtures this season we have been inundated with letters from both Manchester City and Everton fans, some of which can be found in our newly updated Away Fan Pack. These have been particularly pleasing for us as neither side has left with three points so we would have had to work even harder to ensure that they have a great day with us.

Did the club come up with such initiatives during Championship days or only after being promoted to the EPL?

TG: The original strategy for away supporters started when the club was in the Championship and we saw a 15% increase in away attendances during the 1st season that we brought in the changes. This season we have looked to increase the offering and also improve the communication with the visiting fans with the addition of the Twitter account @CardiffCityAway and the Away Fan pack. Both of these offer fans all the need to know and the facility to ask further questions to the club prior to their visit so they can make the most of it.

Do you think there is scope for improvement in enhancing matchday experience?

TG: Yes, we have come a long way over the past 10 years but there is still a long way to go. We constantly look for feedback and comments so we can continually make improvements. It is important that everything we do is fluid and that we seek to move with the times to give the fans what they want.

How supportive have the owners been and what do they make of these initiatives?

TG: The owner and chairman as well as the board of directors have been extremely supportive in giving not only their financial backing, but also there the freedom to create the micro environments within the stand. This ultimately has allowed us to not only improve revenues but create a fantastic atmosphere for home and away fans alike to enjoy their football. 

Anil KADIYALA

Nationality:
India
College:
Robert Gordon Univ.
Club Domestic:
Club Foreign:
Liverpool FC
A sports enthusiast and a soccer freak who previously worked in various sectors outside sports but eventually had to respond to the love of his life and at present working as a sports marketing professional.
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