Paul Barry, Owner of CUFC, met with CUSP before the Salford game on Tuesday together with Shaun Grady, Godric Smith, Renford Sergeant and Ian Mather. Dave Matthews Jones chaired the Meeting.
Below is a summary of what was a wide ranging conversation:
Paul gave the background to his love for the Club. He had started going in the 1960s and he had gone regularly home and away before moving to the US in the 80s. Since then he had regularly flown back from the US for the weekend simply to watch a game, as a fan, as a Director and Chairman for four years. He was passionate about the Club - not just as a football Club but for the positive role it could play in the community.
Paul made clear that his priority as someone who had committed considerable sums to the Club over many years was to ensure that the Club had clarity on its finances. Recent events elsewhere had shown how important that was to ensure a future for any football club. They were now done in a timely and professional way in a manner he would expect from any of his businesses. There had been no ill intent but that had not been the case in the past. In comparison to other League 2 Clubs we were now one of the best commercially. The challenge was to improve on the football side and that was everyone’s priority. His business’ success meant that he could bear the financial burden at the Club and invest for the future. If the Club was well run off the pitch - which it now was - it would allow more investment to be made on the playing side.
Since becoming owner he had become even more involved in the Club. He was in regular weekly contact with people right across the Club from the Board down. His approach was to appoint good people and then to let them perform. Ian Mather had made a significant difference as CEO to the effective day to day running of the Club and he was pleased that he had agreed to continue in the role for next season.
He made clear that everyone at the Club recognised that we needed to improve on the pitch. We had under-performed over the last five years and he completely understood fans’ frustrations as did the whole Board We were all fans first and foremost Football was all about creating moments and in truth there hadn’t been many to celebrate over recent years. We had to do better at all levels and the partnership with St Neot’s for example should be seen as a first step to ensure that our Academy players got more playing time at the right level so more of them could hopefully transition to the first team and become saleable assets for the Club so that money could in turn be reinvested. Again that had not happened enough in recent years. We were all very ambitious for the future and wanted to be playing at a higher level. The last few years had not been anywhere near good enough.
Paul explained that he saw a new Stadium as critical for the long term future. There had been many false dawns and obviously should things move forward with the site at Marshall’s we would want the fans’ voice to be heard loud and clear as plans progressed. The big difference to the past was that we have support in principle from a number of important parties. Equally we all recognised we needed to do more to improve facilities in the here and now. He was prepared to actively invest in new facilities for the Academy if the right opportunity presented itself. They currently trained at Newmarket which was far from ideal. Equally there were issues with the training facilities at Clare which we recognised had to be addressed in the short term.
Paul underlined his commitment to more regular communication with fans but also made clear it would obviously be inappropriate to give a running commentary on the Club. The Club would look to host another meeting between Paul and CUSP before the end of the season subject obviously to diaries.