Ok, so it's around half an hour until the forum begins and MNL has been woken up from it's hibernation and is finally feeling good to go. Let's hope tonight is constructive rather than a Bun fight and some satisfaction is brought so Poor Mr Adams can start signing some players again!
ok so rumblings abound already. Unfortunately not all of them good. But do provide what should be solid questions to ask to the panel. These are.....
Max birbrear to not sign to the new operating company :(
Right - we are live... hopefully.
This place is packed, and we still have 20 minutes to go.
Bloody nora it's warm in here.
It should be noted that MNL will be a mix between the Stub who uses the phrase 'Bloody Nora' And me Gazza272 who will be a lot more restrained in his language :P
It should be noted - it is very warm... and the room is getting very very full.
Apparently Paul Ragan is here. Let's see if he can get to the stage alive... there is quite a crowd.
More info coming from the forum that apparantly new rules to immigration could mean that the Devils (and I guess that means the Steelers?) could have extra trouble getting import players in due to a change in immigration laws that state companies must be registered with the UKBA to grant multiple Work Permits. Given the Steelers and Devils are brand new companies it could take them 6 months to get granted status with the UKBA..... Again this isnt anything from the powers that be, just rumblings from people.
Also spotted Paul S, Kelly, and Brent.
BBC and The Echo are covering tonights forum. But Terry Phillips is not the reporter there apparantly.......
Looks like we are geting underway.
Brent has taken the stage
Also have Simon and Franny in attendance
Apparently we are waiting to Paul R to the stage.
G has taken to the stage
And we have Paul Ragan
Panel is Simon, G and Paul R
Brent is acting as materdomo
Brent - "This is an emotional evening, and this evening is to answer question, but we need to move forward."
Seems everyone including the players are very very interested in whats being said tongiht. Lyle, Richardson are also in the crowd.
Brent - "We find ourselves in a similar situation as we did at the end of the Burge era, but it wasn't handled as publically. We've been here before, and we have survived before and will move on".
Brent - "Paul will read a prepared statement, and then answer questions from the floor. Paul sees the emotion and anxiety and will deal with it."
Brent - "Your season tickets are safe. We will get a team together and it will be competitive".
Brent - "We are all in this together, and if we devour each other we wont move forward"
Paul takes the mike.
Paul - "This is a new process that I have never been through before" (talking about liquidation)
Apparantly James of the inferno had a wee tear at Brent's speech
Paul - It is with regret that rink corp has have to fold. When I took over it was in a poor state. The income revenue was not what projected. What started as a fun investment has turned into a 60 hour a week and very distressing job.
Paul - "My family and staff have been very distressed, and we look to move on and go from strength to strength."
Question - Why doesn't Paul just pay his way out as he is a millionaire?
Paul - This is not personal bankrupcy. The club has to stand on it's own feet. He isn't prepared to repeat the mistakes. He wants to restart the business on a firm foundation. However he is not going to keep putting his hand in his pocket - he has already spent a lot on money personally to keep both clubs afloat, but it had to end.
Question - What budget has G got? Is it the full budget, and is it the same as Sheffield?
Question - What budget has G got? Is it the full budget, and is it the same as Sheffield?
Paul - we are not here to talk about Sheffield. *loud boos*
Paul - What I failed to realise what a rollercoaster the season would be. We rescued Steelers to help the league - like Cov did for Hull and Nott for Breahead.
Paul - We've all made mistakes, but from now on Steelers and Devils are two totally separate businesses - two clubs can't hold each other up, and that won't happen again.
G - WRG to budget, G expressed conserne to Paul about the budget, but he is working within the budget provided. It has been an off off season. We've missed out on a few kids, but they didn't want to do that. They are trying to build the best team in the budget. There are offers out there, and we are doing our best to create that perfects storm of players.The biggest thing is the people skills, we need to get it right. We need to get it correct. We are better than Fife right now.
Paul - When he took over, we were 4th or 5th in player spend. We are still around there, and we can't expect a Caps situation. We have no ideas how much money is being lost in this business. He isn't in this to build a bottom of the league side - it will cost him more money. "If you haven't got a competitive team at the top, then it closes out the revenue stream".
Contracts for next season according to G all still look ok for the players already signed. We were 4th or 5th in terms of spending last season according to Paul and will be again next season. The forum floor seems unconvinced this will be the case....
Paul - A lot of success has come the way of the club due to money and effort.
Question - Will the staff get their money?
Paul - There weren't actually 16 members of Staff. The number includes Fusion, which never completed due dilligence. They have spoken to the staff and team will be built to go forward.
Question - Will Paul Ragan be around for the next 5 years?
Paul - it is a difficult trading climate. You wouldn't find a millionare to sink money in every year. Moving forward he needs to build a club for the future. When the stadium arrives, and it will arrive, that will help move forward. He has been working with SORAC, and looking to get a twin pad facility that gets the facility required for the team. If you have a 4000 seater stadium, with bar revenues you can compete. We are not that club, and we out performed where we should. The stadium, whatever it ends up being, is our future.
Question - If you are going to learn anything Paul, Simon and the organisation should be treated with respect. There are too many sponsors that have been treated poorly, and that sponsors being told that the Devils have outgrown them is pure arrogance. A lot have been alienated. *loud applause from the crowd*
Paul - I have never heard of this, and I applogise. Ever since I have been involved with this club, the customer relationship management has not been where it should be. Much of that is communications.
Paul - The contracts were poorly written, or not written and the sponsorship deals weren't clear. This was supposed to be a fun investment. It isn't now - this is a full time job. Sponsors should see a change in the way they have been treated, and they should be seeing excellent customer care, and they will return feeling that they were treated fairly.
Question - Where do we stand on the new rink?
Paul - When I took the club over, I was told we were going into a tender process. I didn't take on the club for for the property. I was told that we were a cert for the facility. The tender process was a joke, but I have kept my cool through the process.
Paul - We had a very strong business plan 12 months ago, we don't know as there is little knowledge of what is happening with the rink. Apparently PI will start building in September and complete February - which is fantasy. With SORAC they are trying to push the ice users. Every sport has new facilites built for them, but ice sport is being tresated like we are playing dominos.
Paul - Ice hockey is the 4th mosted watched spectator sport, but we are being treated like second class citizens. The council need to get off the fence and state where they are.
Paul - We have a facility that was built for 3 years, but it has been here for 7. We want to compete we need a stadium.
Question - Could we wine and dine the councilors, take them to the playoffs and show them what they could have won.
Paul - There will be a club in April. We have tried to make the council understand. There will be a march against the council. We have kept cool, we have lobbied behind the scenes, we have taken people from the council to see a facility (and got told off for it). Aside from kidnapping someone, we have done everything we can do. The last thing we want to do is air our dirty washing - but enoughs enough and we need get SORAC together and take action.
Glyne - the council haven't met us. They are meeting us on Thursday, and if we don't get an answer Friday there will be information on The Inferno about protest action, possibly next week. We are still fighting for the two ice pads, and when we have a protest we need people to come out. The BBC and ITV are on board. Keep writing to AMs, PMs and councelors.
Brent - Before David Teme died Brent met with him the day before he passed. "The Cardiff Devils have been the people here, and when things got tought we rolled up our sleves. We need to make the council hear".
Question - Most the people here don't care about the rink atm - we have a home. How are we buiolding a team? How will Simon not alienate the sponsors again?
G looks annoyed that he has to sit and answer questions. And rightly so i dont think anyone can complain about the job G has done this summer.
Paul - We have a budget, G will build a competitive team. We will be impressed by the way we treat the sponsors going forward. We are where we are, we have done everythign to avoind this situation - we are committed to the future, and we want to win the league this year.
Paul - But we need the revenue streams - there is no coincidence that the top teams win, it is because their facilities allow them to generate the budget. We have the best coach, and if he had the money it would go to the team not in his pocket.
Question - Where has the season ticket money gone?
Paul - The money goes into the cash flow of the club. The DD stopped last month, they will be back once they can establish this. He hasn't been through this before. The club wasn't sustainable, he has seen a season, seen what the costs really are and the revenues really are. He wasn't able to do due dilligence on either club, and now he has things will change. The business has been restructured, and couldn't support the numbers it had.
Paul - Once a life time is enough - and it will work next year.
Question - Will we have a competitive product?
Gerad Adams did a trademark Chuckle when Ragan said 'if I could give the coach more money I would' Suggests he isnt 100% thrilled
Brent - we have answered this twice. We need a competitive team to get people through the doors. We will recruit smartly and get the right players, and assemble the team we need.
Brent to G - did you know we would have career years for 5 guys?
G - Yes I did.
G - But I wouldn't put a Capitals team out there. I look at the league, and I don't think anyone has got it right yet. We have a strong core of Brits, and the 4 imports we have are the ones we wanted. I haven't seen anything to worry me, and we will compete.
Paul - Can I confirm what G siad. G and I have had converstations, and I've learned what ice hockey is about. I am here to build something long term. I didn't listen to everybody, and I've paid the price emotionally and financially. The business will be stable, but we will put the best team we can on the ice. We are trying to maximise our team. We are where we were last here in terms of spending, and look where that got us. We need to come together as a club, and that involves giving the maximum spend to the club. But we don't want to be here next year.
Question - Paul, how much money do you propose to take from the club and how much is sustainable?
Paul - Last year I took a big fat 0. What came out, went in and more. He is going to work full time for the club next year- and take an income as it is his main job. He will draw a salary, but it will be minimal - but it will cover his expenses.
Question - What is the situation with Shannon, and will our back office still support Sheffield and what about the alleged eviction of our players on Uni deals?
shannon hope is 'taking a break' according to PR hmm...
Paul - There will be no staff in Cardiff that have anything to do with the Steelers.
Paul - We have hounered everything with the players. We feel poorly treated by the players, but we have given them everything we promised them. We had to move out, and we gave them an option place A which would have given them more money, place B which was nicer - they took B but then moved on and the club feel agreeved about how they players have spoken about this.
Paul - Shannon is Mr Cardiff Devils. He has taken some time out, and is undecided. He is depressed at losing the rink. He has a nice lifestyle, and taken some time out from ice hockey. He will be back, but not sure to what level or when.
Brent - He has a personal decision to make, and needs to decide if he works with his family company in Canada. His partner is Canadian, and their life may be in Canada. Shannon is unclear about what he would want. He wanted Paul to come clean with some of the mistakes that have been made this year.
Question - Is Max coming back?
G - I spoke to Max 48 hours ago and everything was OK. I will check regularly as Max is "a little bit special" - but at the moment he is a Devil.
Question - Is there any news about the festival of hockey?
Festival of hockey will be decided on within 10 days. May not go ahead.
Paul - Cardiff have held off on announcing names when all these problems were ongoing. It is a special celebration - it will hopefully go ahead, and and we have a strong list of names we are waiting to announce. It is a special one off event and will be a success.
Brent - The players potential coming back - Lawless, Shannon, Chinny, Moria, Vez, Woods - Ivan can't find the holiday time, but wanted to make it. The club are hopeful that it will go ahead, but want the dust to settle. Dave Simms can announce what he wants, but we wanted to make sure it would take place.
Paul - We had a conversation and didn't want to shift the focus. We didn't want to split it with the festival names.
Question - Is £30 a ticket a viable amount? Should we use the money for G to spend? We would rather a league title that a nice friendly game...
There has been a proposal to scrap the festival of hockey and give the money to Adams. from what I can gather from the text there is some sort of commotion over this and a kind of impromptue vote has occurred.
Paul - If we get 2300 people in to watch the festival we will get more into G's budget than cancelling the event.
Paul - If we don't get the people through the door, then we wont run it.
Floor - Put it to the floor - do we want to have the festival of hockey? (brent is wording the question very emotively).
(TheStub - The floor is revolting against the premise of the question).
Paul - The club will re-evaluate the cost of the event. See if it will work. If we don't have the event, then we will reduce revenue, but we don't want to loose money. He will look at the cost, and see if the ticket can be put out on a reduced price and still support the even.
(TheStub - The room would support it... we are die hard fans... we would always turn up, but it may be too expensive).
Ragan has claimed that the Festival of hockey will increase G's budget, But By August it could be too little too late.
Question - At what point did you realise that the club wasn't profitable, and why did you still buy Sheffield?
Ragan has blamed Matt Burge for problems still.
Brent Pope has just told Paul Ragan not to answer a question relating to The Devils, the Steelers and Cash flow. The Infernos Shiencar asked the question.
Quote from PR 'Both teams dragged each other down'. Due Dilligence relating to the Matt Burge era has also been described as 'not Viable'
Paul - At the end of the season. Rolling the club back 12 months, the budget looked very good, but it wasn't what the budget said it would be. He made a commitment, and wasn't going to jump ship. It would have been detrimental to our revenue in ticket sales to lose Sheffield. It is the most difficult business he has ever run.
Paul - He now understands the cash flows, and will start afresh and do better and build a stronger club. It was a complete gamble to to take it on, and it cost him a fortune. In a good business it would have been easy - but not in the state company was in.
Paul - We don't have the cash flow.
Question - Why did we save Sheffield? We would have saved Newcastle over Sheffield?
Brent - We are 1 company in 10 - and without those other 9 we fall with them. We are reliant on the other teams to provide a league and a product. When we saw Sheffield falling, we had to save them, or we would soon enough have fallen too. That is why we now have 3 owners holding 6 teams. We have punched above our weight - and we need to it be around and we are part of a bigger a business.
Paul - We need to make things clear: all this stuff about who dragged whome down - we dragged each other down. With our revenue streams, neither team benifits from the facilities they are in and neither team can point at either other.
Paul - The decision has made the league a better league - and if nothing had happened in January both teams would probably be in the same situation, regardless of the merger. We have put a huge amount of resources into building both clubs. There is enough negativity, but we need to sometimes take a step back to take two steps forward. Nothing will change the past, and then move the club forward.
Brent is proposing an intermission Brent - would anything be changed by spending another hour arguing.
Question - Are we the Cardiff Devils? We finished top of the league, but didn't win it - but saving Sheffield cost us the title... if he hadn't we would would be selling out the plastic tent.
The floor is now arguing about if the ST sales had gone through the roof they would have save rink corp.
Questioner has stormed out, without waiting to be answered.
Question - Did the season ticket money go to Cardiff of Sheffield?
There is some form of argument happenign at the front. my texters cant decipher whats being said
Paul - As it was one company, then both. Going forward, all the money goes into the Cardiff Devils. Seperate business, separate revenue streams.
Paul - "I am sat here because I didn't want to walk away". Even if we won the league, there would still be negitivity - but we are where are.
Paul - The mistake was taking two team into one company - it didn't hasten the end for either side, but moving forward. It made sense from a Business POV - but going forward the fans will be listened to, and the companies will be separate.
Brent - we will move forward as two business.
Question - Obviously Simon is comercial manager, so he should answer some questions. Simon should have an understanding.
Simon, has the company registered for a licence and will there delays getting players in?
the Crowd is confused as to why Brent Pope has assumed such a large role in proceedings this evening.
Simon - There wont be any delay. The visa licences were in the Cardiff Devils name, and the same in Sheffield. This year we have applied in the name of rink corp.
Simon - There is a need for a site visit. With the liqudation and moving of offices, there are some issues. They are placing the paperwork for a demerger. They are in communication and are looking to get the new licences together. They are working quickly to get it sorted.
Paul - The league, and IHUK (Andy French) are pushing it, and see no issues. They deal wuth this a lot, and it should cause no major delay. There is a lot of focus on non-EU passports, and we are fine there too.
Questions - there is a lot of delays and a lot of paperwork.
Simon - The situation in Sheffield wont effect us. There is no anticiaption of a delay.
Brent - Andy French, who lives in Cardiff, has been been into the office and has been working through the issues.
Questions - Has all ST money actually gone?
Paul - Again... anything already paid has gone. It has gone to the liquidator, and will be moved forward with them. There is nothing to be concerned about.
Question - Who owns the IP rights?
Paul - The IP rights are with Shannon, due to a process when Paul took over. Shannon has no desire to stop us using our name, and the club are very easy about it. There is money Shannon could make out of this, and he is examining if that would support his life in Canada
Paul - We want Shannon back, but are working with him.
Brent - We will be Cardiff Devils.
Question - Have all the players committed to re-signing under the new company?
Paul - Yes, G has spoken to all of them. They are comfortable with the process, and they are happy to sign with the new company.
G - The only player not spoken to directly is Kenton. All of them are happy to re-sign. G is encouraging them to stay, as he is happy to stay. If he wasn't happy he would move on, and tell them to do the same.
Question - Should Motor Mouth (Simmsey) be gagged, or are we lacking a Simmsey down here?
Paul - Simmsey has never changed, and his future is the matter for the Steelers management team.
Question - Is the new company registered?
Paul - Yes, we are Cardiff Ice Arena, and that has been put in motion. Paul is the sole director currently.
Question - Is there a wage cap, and will this be enforced?
Paul - I have discussed this with the other owners, and the league last season was a farce.
Paul - Last season there were budget from £2000 pw to £11,000 pw.
Paul - This season all the teams have committed to budgets that give a max spread of £4000 pw.
Paul - Fife are keeping their cards close to their chest, and we shall see how they play.
Paul - In terms of a cap, there is one, and apparently enforced is dependant on your definition on enforced. It depends on the owners, and is a gentlemans agreement. If anything we are at the Gentlemans Agreement spending level.
Brent - We will spend as much this season (at least) as we did last year. We spent 4th or 5th - and hopefully that recruiting we can happen again.
Paul - This time last summer, G had few players signed up. He waited and waited and it paid dividends. We are looking as good as last year, and the longer we wait the better the prizes. It is a pleasure to work with a coach who works with the club and not for personal glory.
Brent - Stu isn't sure why all the fans are in so much turmolt. Just wait and see - our expectations are raised by last seasons success, and we are looking to have build a championship team by July 1st - and that isn't prudent. Championships aren't won in July.
Paul - we are looking to build a team, and get the right people and not just the right players.
Brent - Somehow Nottingham managed to win two championships last season. Cardiff always do as well or better than Panthers - and we have much lower budget. That is through good and prudent recruiting.
Floor - The whole country are in awe of the Cardiff fans and their love for the team.
Paul - We need to take the club forward, and make sure there is a team to love.
Paul - G is the man to do that, and I am committed to him. We need to pull together - and I need to get more involved in the club, and I am pulling away from other commitments to focus far more on the Cardiff Devils. I want the best team, and spend the for the best team - but it needs to be sustainable.
Question - Are you worried that the situation will put off new sigings?
From the texts i'm getting it seems the lack of solid answers on a few questions are leaving an uneasy feeling with a few. Ragan has also just said he takes full responsability for what has happened but it's also others to blame which hasnt sat well with people who feel its a contradiction.
Paul - Yes
Paul - I'm surprised at the coverage we got. But we will sign the right guys. The problem with our budget and the success we had we will lose player to teams willing to pay far more.
Paul - We need to build on the positive media coverage, and that also impacts on the negative coverage. We need get things working, and take the rough with the smooth.
Paul - About 74 clubs have gone through this process in the last 25 years, and they can get players and built on this.
Paul - It would be easier with a new home.
Brent on a conversation he had with Paul "it is the most fun he has had in business, but it is the most difficult business he has taken on."
Question - You have put to bed the the fear that the budget has been cut.
Paul - Last year we sat in 4th/5th place with it's budget. We will sit in the same place this year.
Paul - There is a slight budget cut, but we will be in the same position in the league as we were last year (wrt spending). There is a focus on of improving the revenue to allow increased spending, but we are not there yet.
Floor (Wannabe2) - If the best coach in the league is happy with the budget, we should be
Paul - No coach is ever happy with their budget.
Paul - But that is why things like the Festival needs to happen, as it generates income, and allows us to grow. You grow by being the best team in the country, and not the worst.
Question - Are we going to start with 10 imports?
Paul - Yes.
Question - With our budget, can we bring in the Matzkas and Pelles of the world?
G - We will look to build on those positions, and get better players. We look to what they can do, what they could do. Our ear is to the ground, and we are really focused on getting guys in.
G - The uni places are available, and are currently being offered to players.
Questions - Thanks for having this forum. The last we had was 10 years ago, and you are far more honest than that ownership. You had a supporters club, which you froze out - use the supporters club.
Paul - Thanks for the kind words.
Paul - One thing this situation has shown is we need the fans and club to come together. We need to build something for the future, and when we move to the new facility hits the ground running.
Paul - I have been speaking to Todd in Belfast - he does everything. He has one full time lady, and a part time lady then >100 fans that run everything. We need to learn from that, focus on the on the fans and have us come together.
Paul - We need to talk to the fans, and have people going forward that can help. If we can get to the place where we have full stadiums, then that allows us to get corportates in and improve revenue and a strong supporters clubs will help that.
Simon - We need to work with the supporters - we are already dealing with the supporters club.
Floor - The fans are there to help the club. We will do anything to support the club and move it forward.
Question - Can we reiterate what the previous speaker said. Thanks for sticking with us.
In the past we had schemes with corporates, foster carers, hospitals. We offered to help, but I was told by someone in the organisation that we don't need fans anymore - with witnesses. We have key skills that can help build the club going forward - use us.
Paul - Thanks for the kind comments. There was a lot of enthusiasm at the begining.
Paul - The biggest criticism of last year was
A) We did a lot of things that didn't benifit Cardiff Devils,
B) We talked about a lot of things that didn't happen.
Paul - We have to create an environment that allows us to support each other. We need your support, and it needs to be in a structed way. We need things to work and add value to the club. If it doesn't make money, we shouldn't be doing it unless it is because the fans actually want it.
Question - G will we be tough and physical next year?
G - C'mon Glyne, let's have your names. The last guy you suggested couldn't skate. But we will be physical, and we will build on last year.
Brent - Weller was a one off. It was a pleasure to see him, and we got a guy who was at his prime, and we would be unlikely to see that again. Not sure if he will ever come back to the UK, but when he was here he was ours. We have the flexibility to make those strategic decisions when the time is right.
Question - You let Kelly go. With the new business are you bringing Kelly back?
Paul - I have spoken to Kelly and she is coming back. And hopefully Paul Sullivan.
That's it. We need to look out for an announcment on the festival of hockey - possible price changes, or if it is going ahead
Sorry about the spelling - blame the poor typing and small keyboard.
Paul - Thanks to the team, and everyone who turned out. Despite our playing out a tent, it is a fortress - let's focus on the future and make sure we are a great team going forward.
Brent - Chi-chi panda is not Sarah Howells.
Brent - Facebook and the forum are public, and the more instability we create in public can damage the team going forward.
Thats really it now.
Right - I'm off home. G'night.
Big Thanks to the Stub for live updates and for my texters this evening. Tomorrow is another day. MNL will return in the new season.
I've added some scores to make the system archive the transcript