South East Wales

Cardiff City: Red shirt row fans must compromise, says finance expert

A finance expert says Cardiff City fans have to agree a compromise between "tradition and commercial reality" if the club is to clear its debts.

The comments by Geoff Mesher, a partner at Grant Thornton, came after the club owners ditched plans to change the team shirts from blue to red.

Some fans opposed the Malaysian owners' ideas to maximise shirt sales in the Far East, where red is seen as lucky.

Fans' groups have cancelled a meeting on Saturday following the U-turn.

Mr Mesher told BBC Radio Wales: "This is the regular fight between tradition and commercial reality.

"There was a big reaction from the fans. We can all understand that. Football is about tradition as much as anything else.

"There has to be a compromise position where the commercial aspects can live alongside tradition."

He said the club's financial position has "not been great" with big debts still to clear and the "risk is owners reassess what they are putting in the club" if they could not raise money through mechanise in new markets.

"Clearly, this story hasn't finished," he said.

"Whether we can see some form of compromise, we will have to wait and see."

Club chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee issued a statement on Thursday saying proposals for red shirts and a dragon logo had been leaked before being finalised.

Losing money

However, he warned that the club could not afford to continue losing money, and that an investment strategy said to be worth £100m would now be reassessed.

Proposals to change the traditional blue shirts and bluebird logo sparked a fierce debate among supporters when rumours emerged on Monday evening, following the club's Championship play-off semi-final defeat by West Ham United.

The issue has split fans with some saying the club's future is more important than the colour of a shirt, whereas others feel heritage is more important than finance.

Vince Alm, spokesman for the Cardiff City supporters' Club, said his personal view was that the colour change could bring in much-needed money.

"From a personal point of view I see the bigger picture and it's the way forward," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"History is our history, it does not go away.

"To compete with the Premier League clubs we would need to get rid of our debt."

Proposals leaked

Club chief executive Alan Whiteley confirmed there were plans to introduce red shirts and a dragon logo for the new season in a meeting with the Cardiff City Supporters Trust on Tuesday night.

The chairman, known as TG, said in a letter to fans on Thursday that there was never any plan to change the club's name, but confirmed that there had been discussions about the crest and home colours.

Mr Ghee said it was "unfortunate" the proposals were leaked before being finalised by the board.

Tim Hartley, chairman of Cardiff City Supporters Trust, said fans want to continue to work with the club's owners and suggested possibly incorporating a red away strip.

"They have invested a lot of money, we are very grateful to them," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"They were the ones who took us away from administration.

"We want to work with them. Let's draw a line under this. There are no winners or losers in this.

"And if you want to move ahead, even to red shirts, lets see how we can do this gradually.

"I'm not saying I'd go red tomorrow, I'm saying maybe there is a way.

"What we want to do is hopefully speak to TG who comes over to Wales on Sunday and say, 'look, how can we move forward to give you what you want but do it gradually in a way that brings fans with you'."

The Supporters' Trust and Supporters' Club had called an "emergency meeting" for Saturday to discuss the proposal to change shirt colour, but this will now no longer go ahead.

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