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    08 March, 2005

    City: attempting to be positive....


    This is the stadium we've been promised.

    Confusion still reigns. No-one knows enough, apart from the Board. Some have attempted to put a positive gloss on things today.

    Clearly, if we are to avoid administration and relegation, we need to reduce costs and bring in new income.

    On the other hand, the 2004 accounts published over the weekend have a strong rider from the auditors that the stadium project is central to seeing the club as a going concern. The auditors' words are: 'the budgets and forecasts assume that the signed Conditional Development Agreement between the Club and the Council in relation to the proposed new stadium project will become unconditional and that the first stage of the new stadium development will be fully realised within a single construction phase thereafter. In view of the significance of this we consider that the disclosure should be brought to your attention'.

    Today, former City Council leader Russell Goodway said on Good Morning Wales that he thought the project was viable and that it was in the interest of both the club and the City that this project goes ahead. I haven't always been the biggest fan of Russell's political style, but he does think in 'big picture' terms about the city of Cardiff. He said:

    "The council needs to call on Sam Hammam and call on the developer, and say we are partners in this, we're not a referee or on the sidelines, we're playing centre back on this project, we want to make sure it gets under way because it's crucial to the future of the city."

    Goodway pointed out that the debt had been re-scheduled - it was no longer short-term debt, but medium term. Certainly that is supported in the accounts. The bank loan was due within a year (of May 2004), whereas the loan notes are due in 2011.

    Clearly, the Lib Dem Council leadership does not want to be seen to be wreckers of the scheme. Their Leader Rodney Berman is quoted as saying:

    "We are in constant talks with all parties concerned and have just had a positive and constructive meeting with Sam Hammam and representatives from Cardiff City, where we outlined our commitment to the club and its future," and that the Council wants to "make sure the last pieces of the jigsaw are being slotted into place".

    Of course, if the stadium could after all go ahead, with the Club protected, then that would be an outcome everyone would want to see. The problem is what happens in the period between now and construction starting and being completed (in a single phase, as the auditors say).

    That's where things start to get depressing again. Without more funds from Sam and the other directors, keeping the club going in the short-term requires the sale of players. A further straw in the wind was the reluctance of the PFA to loan money to the club in case they didn't get it back. They are waiting for more information from City.

    Sam's credibility is one of the issues at stake of course. How well-financed is Rudgwick? The accounts are now available for the period to 31 May 2004, and I will try to get them later from the Companies House website. Most fans would like to see a gesture of goodwill from Sam at the moment, such as a waiving of the management fees paid to Rudgwick or of loan repayments to Rudgwick.

    As far as the playing situation goes, Mike Morris has a good summary of the last few days. As he says 'It’s difficult to know what movement the rollercoaster is going to make next.'

    Some have suggested that the fans should get together. But the truth is that - anger apart - there is not a totally united position at the moment. There was a very sensible post on this by one of the Supporters' Club's officials earlier today on Mike Morris's site.

    Again, as I have said before, we don't know enough as fans. We remain shell-shocked and angry, and reliant on the Board for information.

    In the meantime, it's feeding season on our players.

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