Following the proposed Cardiff City investment and development commitment from Tan Sri Vincent Tan last week, a package including details of the switch of club colours and crest, the club is well aware that whilst well received in many quarters, there has also been disquiet in others.
Whilst an open dialogue has continued with fans, particularly that currently small number who have indicated their desire to have their season tickets refunded, there is no wish to see any fans abandon the club that they clearly feel passionately about. During this time, chief executive Alan Whiteley has maintained close contact with our principal investor and has kept him fully briefed on developments as they occur.
Speaking to cardiffcityfc.co.uk Alan said, "At such a critical time we felt it important that supporters had the opportunity to hear views directly from Tan Sri Vincent Tan concerning this matter. As a club we are aware of the understandable wide ranging emotions attached to this project and are concerned with the potential for this to become divisive between fans ahead of the new season. The fact that all concerned want the best possible future for Cardiff City remains, even if we may disagree on the ways in which this can become a reality. I'm glad to say that Tan Sri Vincent Tan agrees with the need to communicate his views with supporters and as such has prepared the following statement."
I first heard of Cardiff City Football Club when my friend and business partner Dato' T G Chan approached me in November 2009 to ask if I would be interested in making an equity investment in a British football club which had the possibility of being promoted to the top flight of English football. I knew little of football then and regarded any potential investment as being purely a business decision. To that end I agreed to make an initial investment of £6 million for a 40% stake in Cardiff City Football Club.
That season Cardiff City made it to the play-offs and although we lost to Blackpool, I experienced first-hand the passion of the Cardiff fans towards their home club and I was convinced that with the right management and sufficient funding, Cardiff City could eventually make it into the Premier League. I decided then to increase my investment and to date I have invested a total of £40.8 million (comprising £34.8 million in loans and £6 million in equity) in the club. Over the course of the last two years, including some memorable home games and two trips to Wembley Stadium for matches being watched by millions worldwide, I sincerely believe that my investment has not been wasted even though we are still chasing that dream of making it to the Premier League.
I believe that our club has great potential, but in order to realise that potential real world business and financial decisions need to be made at the appropriate and opportune time. Locally driven revenues and investment can only safeguard the economic stability of Cardiff City to a certain extent given the level of financial burden that has been accumulated by the club prior to my coming on board as a major investor. As much as it may be difficult for some quarters to digest or accept, under the existing model our future sustainability is far from stable.As investors, we are duty bound to explore ways in which we feel the club can grow over the long term.
Things have not been rosy since we came on board, particularly given the severe financial constraints the club was facing.We have however always acted in the best interests of the club with the singular objective of securing promotion to the Premier League. Following TG's appointment as Chairman, we both agreed that he would not draw any salary or other monetary compensation as Chairman so as not to further burden the Club financially. TG does not even seek any reimbursement of his travel and lodging expenses from the Club despite having made numerous trips to the UK for the Club's business. I am grateful to TG for his understanding.
From a supporter's perspective it may seem an easy option or even be regarded as an obligation for the investors to continue pouring money in and to maintain our current path, but that is an unrealistic and simplified view of how a business can survive. It's clear that it is not economically viable or sensible to continue in this way.
Following discussions with the club's board of directors we believe it is now the opportune time for the next evolutionary phase, one which while potentially unpalatable for some due to our modifications to club colours, can also be exciting for the majority who want to see long term success, stability and prosperity attributed to Cardiff City Football Club.
Going forward, Cardiff City is expecting a cash injection in the amount of £35 million to meet its financial obligations for the period from now until May 2013, including a substantial amount for squad strengthening within budgets. Of this amount, £10 million has been earmarked to settle the long standing Langston debt, which if accepted by Langston will go a long way to cleaning up the balance sheet of the club. This further £35 million cash injection coupled with my earlier investment of £40.8 million will add up to a very sizeable £75.8 million invested in the club.
In addition to this, we have budgeted £10 million for the new Premier League standard training facilities and £12 million to increase the stadium capacity by an additional 8,000 seats to 35,000 seats. Add this further £22 million CAPEX and our investment in Cardiff City will have ballooned to £97.8 million. With a contingency provision of another £2.2 million and our total investment will reach £100 million.
Looking further than the field of play, for Cardiff City to enjoy local success, international markets have to be explored to support the club financially. Doing so I firmly believe gives the club the best opportunity for ensuring its economic stability for the short term, and can also unlock further potential to see the club best maintain top flight status should promotion be secured in the coming years.
To sit and wait for the possibility of promotion before carrying out any groundwork would make little sense. To this end the decision to begin the hard work now will only serve us best in the long term, maximising our chance to capitalise on our present endeavours if and when Premier League status is achieved, although I appreciate there are no guarantees. For example, we are currently working on expanding televised coverage of the club in Asia for the seasons ahead, strengthening the already growing awareness of Cardiff City despite more attention being given in Asia to the Premier League clubs.
Other projects will be announced in due course once the building blocks are in place and when it is timely to do so, all of which can benefit the club in the long run. Our desire is to implement our international and local strategies sensibly and to work at growing the wider affinity for the club, which again will see local dividends in South Wales via an improved balance sheet. We are aware of the bridge between our club in its current guise to that of those who have enjoyed long term Premier League status. But we also hold aspirations to bring Premier League status to the Welsh capital and should strive to make this a reality for all to cherish and enjoy.
I appreciate that a part of this strategy, namely the decision for the change of primary colour from blue to red is extremely emotional and for some quarters remains difficult to understand. For all concerned I would like to emphasise that I hold no desire to trample on club history or heritage and would be saddened if supporters thought that this was my intention.I have the greatest respect for the Welsh national symbol of the red dragon. I believe it to be a symbol of great strength and I was surprised it had such little coverage on the club's badge. It was for this reason that I suggested the improved focus of the Welsh dragon on the club's badge and this despite suggestions by a Welsh designer to use a more modern version of the dragon instead. I have since been told that the Welsh dragon was in fact on the club's badge when it last won the FA cup in 1927.
Whether people agree with this decision or not, I firmly believe that this change in colour and stature will give this club a new focus and dynamism, linking as it does the symbolism of the colour red and the new focus on the Welsh dragon, along with the retention of the long standing Bluebird element. With the powerful images these portray in both Wales and the Asian marketplaces I am prepared to back this vision with the investment that we have outlined above, which I would hope demonstrates both my commitment and faith in that strategy.
Given our commitment to date, I sincerely would like to see all our supporters join us on this journey with the sole desire of making Cardiff City Football Club the best it can be. There is no reason why any existing supporter needs to feel disenfranchised. This is and always will remain your club.