Five years on… still no Robbie restaurant

Five years on… still no Robbie restaurant

In his latest “One Vale View” column, Rob Fielding says it is a damning indictment of the board that the completion of the vital revenue-generating Robbie Williams restaurant suite is now more than four years late.

In this column, Rob explains how an influential football reports backs up his view that off-field development is vital for clubs to increase revenue and posts some hard-hitting questions for the board.

I noticed with interest, the “On this day in Vale history” component on the OVF homepage. Today, it reveals that back in 2006 the club announced plans to open a new restaurant area in the Lorne Street stand called the Robbie Williams Suite. It is a damning indictment of this board that, five years on, it remains incomplete.

A BBC Sport article in 2006 noted that “Pop star Robbie Williams is to have a restaurant named after him” and that “the £275,000 suite is part of an overhaul of the Lorne Street stand which should be completed next year [2007].” [1]

Why is the restaurant so important?

Let’s look at this in financial terms. Yes, most Vale fans would love to see seats added to the uncompleted part of the Lorne Street stand, but in reality, Vale has more than enough ground capacity to cope with current attendances and adding seats to the stand would only be a cosmetic exercise.

Of far more pressing need in today’s financial climate is a way of acquiring revenue away from match days. Therefore, the completion of the Robbie Williams Suite should be one of the club’s top priorities.

Why?

Well, the club’s current conference suite generates much-needed revenue in the form of concerts, events and weddings. We would illustrate the club’s commercial expertise in this area at this point, but we cannot include a link to the Port Vale commercial website at www.port-vale.com as this website currently returns the message “This website is currently unavailable”

Anyhow, the argument is simple – add the RW suite to the existing executive lounge and you are effectively doubling the income generated.

Here’s a quote from the influential Deloitte Football Money Review 2011 that emphasises the importance of off-pitch revenue and the importance of completing planned developments:

“Clubs who have recently completed stadia enhancements, or moved stadia, have shown the competitive advantage that can be gained on their peers. It is critical that clubs complete developments that are in the pipeline. Although the economic climate remains challenging, innovative pricing solutions and corporate hospitality offerings can help clubs maximise these more controllable revenues.” [2]

So, the failure of the board to complete this venture some five years after it was promised raises interesting questions:

• Why, despite a loan of over £2m from the council has the £275,000 needed to complete this facility never been found?
• Why, did the club claim it would be completed in 2007, when it was never a realistic timetable?
• If, the board are the right people to take the club forward, what detailled, open and honest plans are in place to complete this vital revenue generator?
• Would the alleged £50,000 purchase of Broxap’s share proxy have been better spent as a contribution to the RW Suite, rather than protecting directors’ own positions on the board?
• How long will it be before this restaurant is completed?

[1] Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/s…re/5153986.stm
[2] Source: http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/u…f00aRCRD.htm#3

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