The Peter Trembling Interview - Part Two

NCM - What are the plans for the rugby club beyond this season?

PT - Watch this space. We're having very amicable discussions with them at the moment. There were a lot of things said about us in the press which weren't particularly accurate said about us at the time which we chose not to respond to. We're getting there with them.

NCM - Does that mean that if negotiations are successful they won't be here much longer and be playing somewhere else?

PT - I'll answer it by saying that we said all along that the only reason we took action against the rugby club is that we don't want rugby players on our pitch as it ruins the pitch and that's all we've had an issue with. Some of the other things got thrown in but it's actually about the pitch, we don't want anyone on our pitch. 

NCM - With the rugby playing on it at the minute are there any plans to ensure the surface can survive the winter months?

PT - Well, there are and this is where the investment's come. We want professional rugby in Nottingham, we said we want to be part of the community, football first and foremost but we want professional rugby in Nottingham. In terms of that surface out there, they do cause damage when they're on it. The problem we have with the Jimmy Sirrel stand is from October to April, you don't get any sunlight on that part of the pitch, so we're going to get lighting rigs in which a lot of the Premiership clubs have. It'll cost us about half a million pounds for these lighting rigs, but they artificially grow the grass in effect and they're fantastic from that perspective. We're getting those in shortly and that should help as it's a sand based pitch out there, which is the worst kind of pitch you can get anyway, particularly in the winter months. But then again next season we've got to consider whether we go for a pitch which is a woven, synthetic type of grass – a Desso pitch, which is woven with grass and a proper grass pitch but more durable. Most of the Premier league clubs use it and most of the clubs who have Premiership rugby clubs on them have that type of pitch as they're more durable and you don't get the wear and tear that you get on our pitch.

NCM - Are there any plans in the pipeline for a training ground and youth facilities?

PT - We've got a two-tier plan on the training ground, we've got the one at Highfields. We've been training at the university but we've just agreed with the council that the four pitches, the area next to the railway line at the back. A lot of people don't know about it but there are some more pitch there and they're probably the best amateur football pitches in the city boundary. We've agreed a deal with the council and we've taken those over and that will be our training ground for two years. In the meantime we're buying a training ground elsewhere which will be a big training ground, academy and offices. Eventually everyone from the football club will be based at the new training ground which will be the Academy and Meadow Lane will just be a stadium that we use matchday and we'll have restaurants here that will be open throughout the week.

NCM - When do you hope to have that up and running?

I think two years. We're hoping to complete the purchase within the month and we'll start work on it straight away, so within two years.

NCM - Are there plans for a reserve team next season to join a league?

PT - I think so, to be honest i've not been involved in those discussions. Generally with that sort of thing Sven will come to me and say 'we want a reserve team next season or the season after' or whatever it may be and this is what I want. He'll talk about that with all the football staff and tell me what he wants to do.

NCM - The crowds have gone up a lot this season. Have you been impressed and happy with the support the club's getting and do you think we can continue to increase the amount of people in Meadow Lane throughout the season?

PT - Yeah, I have, I think it's been fantastic. I don't know what you think but I always think there's more people in than is announced. They announce there's 9,000 in there and I always think 'where could we sit another 11,000 people?' Makes me wonder how many people are getting in for nothing! I think the crowd has been superb which I think has been indicative of the amount of dormant and frustrated Notts County fans out there who are coming back and seeing great football being played. Credit to Ian as that's what he lived for, playing proper football. We won't detract from that, Sven's the same, you won't see the long ball at Notts County while we're here. The crowd's been fantastic and we haven't marketed that yet at all, because everything's been about the football the first three months. Now we need to put a proper marketing programme together because, whilst we're going to concentrate on the history and the heritage and that should be synonymous with what Notts is, but it's about taking the brand and getting a new generation to support Notts County. There's a Premier League survey that said when you capture a seven year-old for your football club, you capture them for life. I was the same with Derby. That's when most people do and my kids were the same as well, seven or eight and you've got them for life. That's what we've got to focus on, get the next generation and you start getting the kids in, you get 55,000 students coming into the universities each year. Start getting the students supporting Notts County as their second team or whatever and your gates start to increase, you start getting that loyal support, you have the hardcore who'll be there through thick and thin, you get the new generation who become part of the hardcore, you get the families who feel part of it anyway and you get the students who are here for three years and a lot of them stay in Nottingham anyway. Suddenly you've got a new fanbase and we need to start marketing that better.

NCM - Do you have any plans for rewards for the existing fans?

PT - Yes and i'm conscious that we keep putting things out there. We started with season tickets and putting all these different prize draws and raffles out for people buying new season tickets and i'm very conscious that we're not acknowledging those people who bought season tickets in March and April and when the going was tough. So we're working on a few initiatives that we'll bring in leading up to Christmas.

NCM - Are there any plans for reducing matchday prices for, say, Tuesday night matches and through the winter months?

PT - We've got to look at that, definitely, we've got to look at the whole pricing structure because i'm convinced it's not right at the moment. The important thing is that this is an entertainment business and people pay for entertainment, so not only do we look at the pricing structure compared to what other football clubs charge, but you look at value for money against cinemas, theatres, restaurants and everything else. I'm conscious of the fact that we're in a recession and money is tight for a lot of people. So we've got to look at that, we've got to look at special initiatives like the Torquay game. We got 9,000 people in but we gave away a lot of free tickets, unfortunately we don't know how many of those free tickets were taken up but, more to the point, how many of those free tickets were taken up by people who would've paid anyway. So we've got to be cleverer about that, we've got to get more people in as you get more people in and you get more revenue anyway, but let's do it at a fair price and a reasonable price that doesn't exclude people who want to come and watch football.

NCM - Say we do get into the Championship, would the season ticket prices be as extortionate as someone like QPR, hypothetically?

PT - No, I don't think you can do. Like Everton's weren't the same as Chelsea's, the price has got to be relative to the community which you live in and they have to be fair and reasonable.

NCM - What about season ticket prices for next season, if we get promoted will they go up?

PT - We've not even discussed that. Gary Townsend has come in and Gary and his team will sit down and start that discussion in November with a view to getting it ready for January/February.

NCM - What was the reason for Matthew Lorenzo's quick departure?

PT -, Matt's been a good friend of mine for years and he agreed to come and take on the role as he fancied working in a football club. But unfortunately he decided it wasn’t for him. I know the reasons but he is a good friend and I’m not going to divulge them save to say he does have a soft spot for this football club and it was a difficult decision for him to make but I understood the reasons why.

NCM - Has there been a request from Sol Campbell or the FA to realase his registration?

PT - No, I mean I can't talk too much about the Sol situation at the moment as the lawyers are trying to sort the situation out, but suffice to say we're disappointed by the whole affair.

NCM - Will Notts go down the big name route if the chance arises or will you leave it until Championship and Premiership level now?

PT - We're not going to say no, I think Sol was a one off and he chose to leave. He signed a contract to stay for five years and right up until the night after the Morecambe game he was happy to stay for five years, then suddenly it all changed.

NCM - There's been a few people coming and going behind the scenes, are you now looking to get a settled board and off pitch team?

PT - Yeah, it's inevitable when you take over a business go, people go and people come and some people don't last. You have to make difficult decisions, when I was at Everton I got rid of four people straight away and maybe I should've got rid of more though there were some quality people there. If you do it all at once then you've got a fresh start. We've had to make some difficult decisions and some people have had to go, but there's not one I can think of where I can say 'we made the wrong decision there'. Everybody who's gone has been right for the business we think, we might be proven wrong, but right for the business for that person to go. We've brought some absolutely fantastic people in, to get somebody like Gary Townsend as chief executive, I think he's the best administrator in football, bar none. I think he's brilliant and over time that will tell. We're bringing some high calibre individuals in and we've got to be brave enough to keep doing it and keep making difficult decisions. I think we're just about there, we might need to make some more but once we get it right we'll have a strong team in place and you need a strong foundation in place to make it all the way.

NCM - There's been some rumours about things like hotels and casinos at the ground. Are these true or just more media nonsense?

PT - No, none of that. People talk about hotels and casions on the back here and I think there was planning permission from a long time back for a hotel, but there's no plans for us to do that. We've got a great stadium which we can use, top quality restaurants certainly within the stadium and we need to do more with Wheeler's bar and make that a more amenable and accessible, seven day a week pub and bar. But that's about it really.

NCM - Before Munto came in the top half of the Kop was closed last season due to the gradient and standing up. Was that true and have you had any hassle from the council about it since?

PT - As far as I know it was true, but the council have been brilliant with us. What's of paramount important is the health and safety, particularly in football stadia, but health and safety is of paramount important. The council are quite right and they have to give a capacity according to what they think is safe. I wasn't here last season so I don't know why the top half wasn't open, but to me it should be open as it generates such a fantastic atmosphere. We look over from the directors box and think we should be up there.

NCM - Are there any plans for you to join us in there one game?

PT - Yes I plan to one game, i'll sneak in.


Thanks to Peter for a fantastic interview and to Dane Vincent for helping with the recording.