Bluebirds Are Happiest At Home
Interview with Ken Choo. By Marc Webber.
Cardiff City’s Chief Executive Ken Choo says despite being in the global spotlight of the Premier League, looking after the club’s loyal local fan base is the best way to grow the business.
With a big grin on his face, Ken Choo turns to his media team and jokes “I’m glad we won on Saturday. I didn’t want to do an interview until we had won!”
We met with the Cardiff City Chief Executive just 36 hours after their first victory in the Premier League after eight attempts. Life on the pitch has been hard. But the man charged with delivering success off the pitch is more interested in sustainable growth for the club than short-term form fuelled by writing blank cheques for overpriced transfers.
“When I joined in 2014, after the club was relegated the last time, I knew my job was to get this club back into the Premier League. But I knew it would take a few years.
“The first two years was a clean-up. You have to move on those players with big contracts that did not have the heart to be part of our rebuilding. Then it was about getting players from the lower leagues who have the heart and are motivated. The ones that, when you talk to them, they want to do well and they just want a chance to perform.”
And one big part of that clean-up was trying to rebuild the relationship with fans which had taken a battering from the owner Sri Vincent Tan when he decided to change the Bluebirds’ first team strip from blue to red.
“I knew my first job when I came in was to talk to the fans about this issue.
“The owner is a very reasonable man who understands the passion this community has for the club. So, it was about reopening the lines of communication so he got that important message in a reasonable tone.
“Once that happened he was more than happy to consider a change back.
“And now we see our fans coming back by the droves to see how much the owner loves this club. We’ve never seen such an increase in ticket sales. It is all about understanding the community we are in. It is so significant to who we are.
“We work with about 17,000 families throughout South Wales every year. Our community programmes are very well done. But we realise that Cardiff is a relatively small city and our fan base is largely from there or the valleys around.
“So, we don’t just focus on big businesses that have a lot of money to spend, we always look for opportunities to support and work with the small businesses in the city and valleys.
“Those are our core fans. They were with us when we were down and we want to be with them now we are on the up.
“We are trying to use our time in the Premier League spotlight for the good of those that have supported us.”