Club talk

Attendances, selection and recruitment for 2016/17…

As we know, attendances were down on average around 400 on last season prior to the Loughborough game.

And in terms of revenue, that’s a substantial loss…(the figures below are purely speculative, it’s how that lost revenue could impact on the club that’s important).

If 300 hundred of those have to pay (so excluding children under the age of 16) and if the average gate receipt is £13.50 to allow for concessions, then that’s a  loss of approximately £4o50.

In addition, you could expect those 300 to have an average spend at the bar (including food) of another, say £7 each (bar food, drinks, programmes etc)…a loss of £2100. Take off the cost of the drinks and food and that’s probably a net loss of another £1000.

So that’s about £5000 a home game lost…of which there are 15 in total. A loss of £75,000 over the course of the season.

It’s worth remembering, though,  that when we were in the midst of our 18 game unbeaten run, attendances of anywhere between 1800-2200 were being achieved, so the figure of £75000 is erring on the side of caution.

Now I don’t know what £75000 gets you these days…1 professional and 1 part-time player perhaps, although there would be in-house costs to consider? Or take away one of the two part-timers  and add a full-time IT whizz who has the experience  and technical nous to use social media to further promote the match day experience, there-by adding even more onto the gate?

If motivation is needed (Thanks, Paul ;)), then surely if for no other reason, the financial implications of getting the pre-match advertising and promotion right makes it worth it?

But it also makes sense from a rugby perspective.

Not only do you bring in an additional quality player (or two), you provide the team on the pitch with a huge incentive – playing in front of the largest, loudest and arguably most passionate crowd in National 1. An incentive for players to stay on, an incentive for player to come to us.

How many times have we read comments from the players about the impact the crowd has on them, how it lifts their game and raises them to another level? We saw that a couple of times last season, especially against Ealing in November, when the crowd really did seem to become the 16th man.

By improving the club’s communication with it’s supporters and the wider community,  you’re getting more bodies through the turnstiles. and therefore increasing the coffers. And, if as a by-product of this, you’re impacting on the effectiveness of Coventry on the pitch, then it must be something worth considering.

You could even incentivise the new IT role – every extra hundred you get through the turnstiles averaged out over the year, you get an £X00 bonus.

Mind you, if you did that, there might be one or two of us coming out of retirement to give it a go!

The 1370 odd gate on Saturday was pleasing, up some 200 hundred on the overall average for the season. However, you’d expect a bumper crowd coming to the end of the festive season, particularly when Coventry have only been at home once in the whole of December and that was three weeks previously.

The fact that there were a number of players, families and friends in attendance from another local Coventry team  will have also inflated the numbers, so it’s not quite as good as it might at first seem.

And , of course, there’s still the ‘what if’ argument. What if there had been far more promotional materials coming out of the club in the two weeks prior to the game as we might have expected, or even deserved? Would that have added more to the gate?

My guess would be yes, it would, but it is just that, a guess.

The point I’m making is there again there was another breakdown in Coventry’s PR machine, and if Cov are to move on from where they presently are, then it’s really important, imperative even, that they learn from their mistakes, as must we all.

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One of the successes from Saturday for me was the reintegration of the likes of Woodburn, Weightman, Tincknell and, to a lesser extent, Hope and Kivalu without any apparent loss in performance from the team as a whole. In fact probably the reverse was true, with the team appearing to give an improved display, albeit against a relatively poor Loughborough side.

We know Woodburn was included in the team because the coaches want to have ‘a look at some players with a view to next season’. Whether this is true of the others wasn’t made clear, although probably not with Weightman or Hope, both having probably already done enough to justify their place in the squad, come September. Kivalu might well be just a stop gap given the problems we had earlier in the season (he joined us 7 games into the season – thanks OldNick for the update on the messageboard) and Tincknell might have been there on merit, having got over his latest injury scare, although MacBurnie and Hutchinson are also in the frame  of course.

The interest for me next Saturday is whether Scott Morgan will continue experimenting with the team in order to ascertain the merits or otherwise of some of the fringe players, or will he look to play what he feels is his strongest side, given the opposition in the next two games lie 3rd and 1st respectively in our league. The full comment made by Scott refers to it ‘being the time of year’ to do this, the inference being that it will be on-going, but it’s a big risk to take when you’re up against two of the strongest teams we’ll face all season.

The problem is somewhat resolved by Woodburn’s injury…he was clearly badly concussed on Saturday and I can’t see the medical team giving him the go ahead to play next weekend anyway, which means  George Oliver returning to the back row. Chad came off in the second half with what looked like a hand or wrist injury, so he might well not be available either. The others would all be in the team on merit really, although the I think Matt Price will come in for Devlin Hope, despite him being made MoM in The Rugby Paper (presumably selected by our own John Wilkinson?).

There are still a number of players we’ve yet to see much of this season. Will the coaches want to watch the likes of Jake Caulfield (who was warming up with the team before the game on Saturday), Martin Wolfenden (whom Scott Morgan described as a ‘beast’ on the pitch at the Fans’ Forum), Tom Preece, Joe Carpenter, Sam Baker, Courtney Roberts and Sam Smith playing in the first team again (or indeed for the first time) or have decisions already been made regarding their contracts next season? They’ve had a total of just 13 appearances between them this season.

It is always going to be a risk when you put untried (at this level perhaps?) into players into the side against teams you know have everything to play for and will be putting out their best sides in matches of huge importance to them. Whilst every game has it own significance for Coventry, perhaps there’s a little less attached now to those that remain for us compared to the top teams where every point is vital as the race for the Championship moves into the business end of the season. For those teams, every game becomes a proverbial ‘cup final’.

However, if the feeling is that a player is good enough, then play they should. And it’s more than possible to assimilate a player into the team without making wholesale changes. The announcement of the team (and I’ll give any money on it being released before Saturday!) will give us an indication of just how Scott intends to play the next few games against 5 of the top 6 teams in our league.

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In the meantime, I guess Scott is also busy looking about for quality players who will become available at the end of the season. If Evans and Jones, for instance, decide that this is to be their last season with Coventry, then there’s two immediate area of concerns, although Cliffie looks like he’s slipped right back into the groove since his return.

Having admitted mistakes over the recruitment of players prior to the start of the season, Scott will be desperate that the players he brings in perform to expectations. With Phil Maynard sidelined from the playing side of Coventry RFC, Scott will have to take pretty much sole responsibility for players recruited by the club from now on. And he’ll be determined to get it right this time…

…although, actually did Coventry get it that wrong back in June and July? Thomas, Hope, Weightman and Woodburn have all looked the part and certainly have been pretty much on a par with those already at the club. Wolfenden, Preece, Munroe and Adam Canning have all been injured or unavailable which you just can’t account for. Yes, there have been concerns, but perhaps not to the degree that we first feared…?

Have the club been a little hard on themselves given the form of the whole squad has been a concern, not just those who were recruited in the summer? And have we been a little hard on the club?

In retrospect I probably have, but in fairness only in response to the club’s own self-criticism of it’s 2015 recruitment drive which has tended to act as a smokescreen for other problems.

It’s a talking point, if nothing else…

 

 

 

 

 

2 replies »

  1. Having nothing else to do before work this evening, I thought I’d have a look at past average attendances for Cov before last season’s ‘winning run’ attendance of 1506. In the four years previously in NL1 their averages have been (recent first) – 1198, 1166, 1048 and 837. Also the three seasons before that in the Championship the average was – 1248, 1397, and 1366. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say or prove really with these stats, but in order for us to get the higher attendances we need to win matches, and although Cov have missed out on promotion by some distance in the last two seasons, to see that Cov are in the top four rather than ninth/tenth people may be persuaded to come along to watch more readily.

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    • .Hi Warren, good bit of research! It does show that this will be the first year in the last 5 where the gates have dropped and that is clearly connected with form to some extent. But I do think a drop of nearly 400 could have been negated somewhat with better publicity. Or, put another way, had the publicity been better and the gates the same, the club would have avoided all this negativity…

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