No Need To Panic!

It was with a great deal of interest that I read the following on the Coventry Blaze Website recently.
The article has caused the inevitable panic in the Coventry fan base and had been discussed on various hockey forums around the country. My response is what’s the problem with it?
I think Blaze deserve to be applauded for trying to encourage fans through the door and while the write up may be perceived as desperate by some I see as laying their cards on the table, even at this early stage. I like to see a club being open, honest and pro-active, then no-one can be under any illusions. Obviously this has caused some panic on the Blaze’s Fire & Ice forum, but this is where the club have to be applauded again as Blaze Chairman Andy Buxton posted a reply on the thread which spelt out where they were as a club and what steps needed to be taken. Not only that but he openly encouraged suggestions and continued to contribute in order to answer questions and queries, and extract from his post is as follows:

“I understand that times are tougher now than they have been for a while. They are tougher for just about everyone in the current climate and of course that includes the club. We have always competed at the top of the sport in the UK and that takes a bigger percentage of our resources to do than other clubs who can get 2000 to 4000 people a game more than us. Given what we are up against, this club has consistently over achieved and that’s great credit to the players, coaches and club staff. As all our costs go up it becomes harder to do that if the income doesn’t go up to support it. There’s no easy answer I know but it’s not going to be easy to be at the top end of the sport if we don’t, for what ever reason, get the attendances we need.

There are a great number of people who really care about the club, love the team and have enjoyed all the fantastic memories that this club has brought them – more trophies than any other, European adventures, Cup Finals, huge games, great nights out. There are even people out there who although they like their moment of fame by looking to criticise everything – feel the same way too. Between all of us we need to make sure that the Blaze can stay at the level we are. That there are enough people who want to see hockey of this level in Coventry. We can’t do it all on our own. We need some help which was the point of the article yesterday.

And I can’t have put it any plainer that taking on Hull has been no drain in resources and has actually been a positive from a business perspective commercially. They are two separate teams and they operate at the level they can individually afford. Can’t make it any simpler that anyone who suggests anything otherwise is factually wrong.

Yes a few years ago we had less staff but we were a much smaller operation. The extra staff are there because we do so much more as a business than we ever did. We don’t really operate the actual Blaze with any more staff than we used to.

So you guys tend to be the more vocal on things to do with the club so I’d like to turn this back to you. How can YOU help us to grow the fanbase. What are things that that the club could do as well – and don’t say drop the ticket prices (because that’s not the answer I can assure you) and given that there is nothing we can do to get 300 fans to travel down from Scotland each time we play a team from north of the border. And you have the old intro back, tennis balls are returning, you have a Scotland double header and a Belfast double header (see we do listen sometimes !)

That’s a genuine question. Don’t criticise. Be constructive and helpful because the more we collectively succeed. The more we collectively benefit.

The floor is yours”
(The thread in question is linked here. However, you have to register as a member on Fire & Ice in order to view it and it is a mammoth 16 page thread.)

For me it’s great to see a high ranking official with the club not only asking for fans feedback but also explaining exactly where they are with regards finances and being able to compete at the top level. Openess like this is sadly rare in British Ice Hockey so it is like a breath of fresh air to see Buxton communicating with fans in the way he has and also inviting suggestions from them.
It cannot be ignored that the Blaze had a poor season last term and starting this one with a 10-1 demolition by Panthers at the NIC will not have helped, especially for a fan base that has enjoyed much success, add to that their take over of Hull Stingrays last season and I can understand why some Blaze fans are a little nervous. However if the clubs management are going to be open and honest with their fans as they have been here then they have every chance of getting through whatever obstacles are in their way.

1 Response to “No Need To Panic!”

  1. 1 Tom September 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Completely agree. The article in question was not to panic and show a club in trouble, but to show that to compete at a high level like they want you need the support. I’m still not happy about owning Hull personally, and their not helping themselves in E-newsletters and other things by referring to us as Blaze and Hull fans. We’re not Hull fans we’re Blaze fans. The mood on the F&I forum has definitely improved since Andy Buxton told us what’s going on at the club, I have huge amount of respect for him for this – like you said, it’s rare. Their has been some great ideas thrown around by fans on how to increase attendance and income for the Blaze since this post by Buxton and hopefully, it will pay off.

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