A bid to get Cardiff an elected mayor has secured just a fifth of the necessary signatures with more than half of their campaign gone.
It would ask whether voters want an elected mayor in place of the cabinet-leader model.
The campaign launched in February but with almost four months gone they have collected just 5,000 signatures.
Organisers admit that back-to-back Assembly elections and the EU referendum have impacted their campaigning.
During the campaign former Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP made a visit to Cardiff to support the bid .
He said while it was up to voters to decide he believed a mayor offered focus.
“I hesitate to advise people how to vote in other cities on this issue, people have different perspectives but it has definitely worked in London.
More on the campaign This is why they want it and what they have to do
“I think a mayor brings focus. A mayor is able to look at the needs of the city and campaign for them absolutely relentlessly.
“So whether it’s infrastructure, or spending on housing or whatever it is.
“You’ve got someone who champions Cardiff. It’s not just the national agenda, it’s the international agenda.
“Cardiff is out there already, selling itself in global property markets, investment markets, it’s a place where people host conferences and may want to come to have all sorts of events.
“The mayor can serve as a real driver of all that kind of activity. Whether its tourism, infrastructure, education, housing, policing, whatever.”
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If the first poll were successful and a referendum was then successful, a second would be held to elect an individual.
It has been estimated the two polls would cost more than £1m.
The campaigners dispute that figure – based on the cost of holding a General Election in the city.
The group have now launched an online petition to boost their count, but Cardiff council have previously said that only “wet” signatures – signed in person – will count.
A mixed bag of views Here’s what Cardiffians think about the possibility of having a mayor
A spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that remained the case, saying: “An online petition would not be valid for the purpose of exercising the right to compel the council to hold a referendum on a directly-elected mayor as the validity of such petitions is governed by the Local Authorities (Referendums)(Petitions and Directions)(Wales) Regulations 2001, which do not allow for online petitions.”
At the start of the campaign organisers said they were aiming to collect 30,000 signatures to account for any being discounted during any verification.
To view the online petition visit www.change.org/p/cardiff-council-a-directly-elected-mayor-for-cardiff .