Now before I start I’d like to clarify one point that might be just a little bit contentious: I don’t have an issue with the Checkatrade Trophy format. I fully understand that many do and I completely understand their rationale. My personal position on this is quite simple: Whether it’s the old format of the JPT or the new format of the Checkatrade trophy, we’re obliged to play in it. With that being the case, to my simple thinking I’d rather play in a competition that has reasonable financial reward than one that has little. I would far prefer that the increased prize money was directly funded from the vast piles that the Premier League bank in TV revenue, but quite frankly that’s never going to happen. By including the U23 squads this season and the way that the gate money is distributed the EFL have done (in my opinion at least) a reasonable job of finding a way to make the competition financially viable to the clubs rather than being the burden it has been in recent years.
The harsh reality today is that we have already made more money from this tournament than we did in recent seasons. I accept that this is very easy to say off the back of two wins, but the fact remains that we’ve already made £20k out of the cup. That’s more than 37 of the 48 clubs did last year.
Regardless of your view of the cup itself I would urge every supporter to support their team. Boycotting the cup by the club is not an option and credit is due to the squad that played in our first two games for going out and giving a committed performance. It’s a good opportunity for the manager to give some of the fringe players game time and again, with that in mind there is another positive to draw form the cup. To be able to give fringe players game time and simultaneously earn money for the club (which is always needed in a club as small as ours) cannot be that bad of a thing.
Last night 182 fans made their way to The Valley to watch the second of our group games, this time against Charlton. With a ground that can hold 27,000 only holding around 1,100 the at atmosphere was more akin to a training session, but the players still approached it with a level of professionalism that gave them the result they deserved. A few of our not so regular players started and every one of them gave a good account of themselves. I would comment though that Charlton were poor, very poor. I can see now why the Charlton fans I work with have been so disparaging about their side this season. All that being said though, you can only beat the side that’s in front of you. And we did, convincingly.
Undoubtedly we looked a better side with Jimmy Smith and James Collins on the pitch, but we were hardly struggling prior to that. Bobson Bawling again showed that he really does possess the level of skill and application to give Dermot some tough selection decisions and Mitchel Beeney did very little wrong and one huge thing right.
I thought Alex Davey had a good game until Mark Connolly went off. He reminds me a bit of Sonny Bradley in that he plays better with a more experienced head next to him. Chris Arthur seemed to step up to the challenge last night so maybe that time watching Blackman do the same from the bench has given him a nudge.
Mention of the night though has to go to Lewis Young. Whilst he played well again, he did look a bit under the weather. Something that was seemingly confirmed when he was a little late out for the second half after allegedly “doing a Puncheon”.
On a related note I was asked by a few people why the CTSA chose not to run a coach last night. G&H made a statement this week that we had elected not to send a coach “blaming the fans boycott”. This was completely incorrect and in fairness to G&H they did amend this statement when requested. Sadly though it would appear from last night’s conversations that not everybody read the correction. In addition to that, in the correction made by G&H they made the following statement: “However, I would comment that we had actually turned away 16 supporters in the last 2 days and some this morning who wanted to travel to the game – yes they have left it late but support was there for both organisations to run transport to the game”.
It was on this latter comment that I was also questioned on last night and I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify the position. Before I do that though I’d like to make one point abundantly clear: I have no issue or axe to grind with G&H. They do an excellent job of getting fans to games, they offer a good service at a good price, but the setup of G&H is fundamentally different that of the CTSA.
Unlike the CTSA, G&H is not required to publish its finances to the supporters that use their service. That’s not a criticism, it’s simply a statement of fact. They run their operation as a private business and if they make a profit or loss that’s entirely up to them. I don’t know the details of the financial arrangements between G&H and Crawley Luxury, nor do I have any right to ask. All I can do is speak from my position in my role at the CTSA.
At the CTSA one of our primary aims is to Operate democratically, fairly, sustainably, transparently and with financial responsibility and encouraging the Club to do the same. What this means in practice is that we attempt to run on a break-even basis. Any surplus generated from travel or fund raising goes to charitable causes. Our finances are there for all to see and we have managed accurately to this break-even point over recent seasons.
When we plan our travel we price at a break-even point of 40 travellers per coach. We need to book our coaches in advance and whilst we have made significant savings with our move to WH Motors this season we have reflected this where possible in our pricing.
For us to have run a coach to Charlton we would have had to have 40 passengers paying no less than £12.50 each. Tuesdays have been historically poor for travelling fans and given the ability for people to travel easily by train we made the call not to run a coach. The 16 supporters that G&H refer to came to the plate after we would have had to cancel our coach (had we booked one) without incurring a fee. Even if we had a coach available we still would have had half the number of paying customers required to break even.
At the CTSA we manage the member’s money with prudence. This means not giving it away or choosing to subsidise the travel of a select few. The board members of the CTSA and in particular Carol and Marilyn work extremely hard to put on travel wherever possible whilst simultaneously being careful not to expose the CTSA to losses. Taking the decision not to provide a coach is not one we take lightly and we genuinely explore all avenues before we ever make such a call.
So for those that were disappointed that the CTSA did not provide coach travel last night I do genuinely apologise, but ask them to help us to help them. If you want to travel, tell us as soon as you can and we can get the coaches booked at an appropriate cost. Leaving it to the last minute means more often than not that we will have to cancel any coaches booked to ensure the CTSA do not incur unnecessary cost.
We will continue in our endeavour to provide travel to as many games as possible. We will also continue to manage our member’s money with prudence.