All I want is openness and transparency

All I want is openness and transparency

OVF founder Rob Fielding says he’s sticking by his call for potential new owner Keith Ryder to be open and honest with the Port Vale supporters.

All I want is openness and transparency

By Rob Fielding

I’d like to think my suggestions to the club’s new owner are sensible and consistent. And unlike some, I haven’t changed my mind on my expectations of potential new owner Keith Ryder.

Hold on, so who’s changed their minds, then, you may well?

Well, a few weeks back I penned an article entitled “new owners should listen to fans” which also called for openness and transparency. But some people on the forum disagreed. “We’ve tried that before,” they said. “I don’t care if the new owner doesn’t listen as long as he’s successful,” they added. Then Keith Ryder suggested he would keep ticket price rises in place and lo and behold, some of the same fans criticised him for not listening to fans’ ticket concerns.

So, I’m sticking to my guns. Frankly, I don’t think one can be achieved without the other. Any business that has customers will need to interact well with those customers in order to bring in success.

One of the main reasons I turned from a V2001 apologist to a “pro-changer” (my own phrase and yes, it’s a clunky one) trying to remove them was that I felt they had forgotten their promises to be a fans-based consortium and listen to the fans.

OK, so lack of finances ultimately caused the board’s downfall – but that lack of money was at least partially down to them failing to listen to their customers – the fans.

It’s not inconceivable that had the board been more honest about their shortcomings that administration could have been avoided and Vale could now be battling Crewe in the chase for the play-offs.

Yes, Keith Ryder has put the money in and it’s therefore right that he, not fans, makes the key decisions. But even though Mr Ryder will have the final say, he should remember that no-one in business should ever forget the needs of the customer.

At this point, some of you may disagree and ask why should Keith listen to his customers (the fans)? Well, anyone with an idea of customer service knows the answer to that one:

1. In financial terms, one customer service expert puts it this way – “selling to current, satisfied customers is always cheaper than marketing to new customers”
2. Selling once to a new customer is all very good, but a loyal, satisfied customer will repay you many, many times over during his lifetime he is associated to the brand. (in footballing terms – yes, you can sell a matchday ticket to a newcomer, but keeping a season ticket holder happy over several decades brings in infinitely more income and is therefore far more important)

So, with all this in mind, I’ll repeat what I’d like to hear in Wednesday’s meeting and that is openness and honesty.

Do that, Mr Ryder, and it’ll go a long way to securing my backing.


Rob Fielding is the founder of OVF, a Vale fan for over 31 years and in line with the argument put forward in this piece, he will be ignoring any negative comments posted below this article…

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