Keith Dawe spoke openly and honestly about the “challenging” times ahead for Bristol City Football Club at the annual Supporters Meeting last night.
The City chairman said he wanted to prepare fans for “hard” and “tough” times ahead as the club looks to improve its finances in the wake of a record loss of £14.4m in 2011/12.
Asked by one supporter on how things have been for board members in the past 12 months, Dawe responded: “The best word to use to describe it is challenging.”
He continued: “We’re staring at Annual Accounts showing a £14.4m loss – that’s nearly unbelievable.
“We’ve got to work that down to £8m – that’s going to be a challenge. We’ll probably get it down to around £10m, then down to £8m.
“If I could do something decisive to cut those losses, I would. There is nothing I can do, or anyone else can do, that is that decisive.
“I don’t care what sort of business you’ve got, or how much money you have, you shouldn’t be running a business that is losing £14m, £10m or even £8m. That’s what I’m going to work on.
“Talk is cheap. To some extent that’s possibly why you don’t get a lot of information coming from me in the press.
“As chairman I believe it is my job to get about my business. It’s not my views that are important, it’s the views of the shareholders and the board – I’m purely a representative of them. It’s not a personality job.
“I want Derek (McInnes, manager) to be successful as much as [every supporter]. I want Derek to communicate with supporters on the football side and I believe he does that, and does it well.
“In my heart I do believe we are turning things around. I can’t give you evidence of that at the moment, but hopefully that evidence will be forthcoming.
“This will be hard, it will be tough. I don’t see an easy route, so I’ll prepare you for that.”
Dawe was clear with regards to the area which City need to improve on more than any other, especially with the introduction of Financial Fair Play regulations.
He said: “In terms of my inspiration, something I have always been interested in is recruitment.
“The recruitment and development is what I believe in; either the players we’ve been able to develop from our Academy or those we have been able to recruit and develop.
“Something I’ve felt has been weak throughout my time here has been the scouting and acquisition of players.
“We’re in the process of overhauling that. A lot of it you won’t see, but will hopefully benefit us in the long term.
“The only way going forwards will be to develop our own players, or alternatively find potential in others’ players and develop them by giving them opportunity.
“There’s also the potential for ROI (return on investment) by bringing them in, hopefully playing for Bristol City and at some point selling them on and making a profit.
“If you look at last season, I thought we were a little bit fortunate not to be relegated. We were one of the worst teams in the division.
“It was always going to be a struggle this season and I was really pleased with how we started. I’m disappointed (about) where we are now but we’re in it together and we’ve got to see it through.”