The Shots Trust were pleased to hold their annual AGM on Thursday 12th December 2019. The meeting was well attended and several new board members were elected.
Following insightful discussions, members agreed to various objectives to guide the future of the organisation. These aims cover fan representation; scrutiny of ground redevelopment and fund-raising. The first two proposals (to continue to represent the fans, and to provide oversight and input into the Ground Redevelopment) were carried with overwhelming majorities. Chairman Tommy Anderson clarified that the Trust were completely committed to ensuring the new lease gets issued to the football club, the reported concerns were purely focused on ensuring careful process, scrutiny of detail and extra transparency.
However, members voted against a proposal to minimise or restrict fund-raising efforts whilst a Supporters Club was active. As such existing schemes such as Lucky 7s and Cash for Shots will continue, and the Trust Board will continue to consider new fundraising opportunities throughout the year.
The agreed aims will supplement the overall Trust vision of protecting and promoting the long term future of football in the Aldershot community. The Trust will issue AGM minutes in due course to expand on these topics.
Prior to the AGM, the Trust Board had previously engaged with the Shots Foundation and agreement was reached to provide the Foundation with additional financial support. In effect, we promised exclusive use of the Cash for Shots funds, to be paid as an initial lump sum and then an ongoing donation every quarter (based on estimated profits from the scheme).
The Trust Board were looking forward to being able to support the excellent work of the Foundation, which had been showcased at the recent Fans Forum. This plan appeared to be an ideal way to invest supporters’ fundraising back into the community, without the risk of investing straight into the “financial sponge” that is the day-to-day operation of the club.
It was therefore a considerable shock late last week to receive a second letter from the Foundation saying that, on the advice of the trustees (presumably guided by the Football Club), they were after all unable to accept our offer of financial support.
Having an offer of funding refused in this way is certainly a novel experience. It seems extraordinarily churlish that, in an attempt to squeeze out the Trust (and associated initiatives), the Club sees fit to deny the Foundation and the Community a future funding stream of many thousands of pounds. We will attempt to persuade the Foundation that this is an unjustifiable mistake. However, in the event that they feel obliged to stick with this decision, we need to consider what our next steps should be in regards Cash for Shots.
Whilst the news came too late for a formal AGM vote (with postal/proxy vote forms having already been issued), members were asked to informally comment on the night on this pre-drafted statement and consideration of a backup proposal.
It was agreed that if the Club/Foundation continued to refuse to accept donations, then Cash for Shots should return to the purpose for which it was originally established in 2007 (thanks to Richard Petty for tracking down the original flyer, which was distributed at the AGM and shown below!).
In summary: The scheme will be run by the Trust. The Trust will retain and safeguard all funds until the Club proposes suitable investment projects which can be agreed by both Trust and Club. Any donations made to the Club will be transparent and linked to clearly-defined strategic projects.
As a new feature, the Trust has decided that local charities in the Aldershot area should also benefit. As such, community charities will be considered for small quarterly donations from the scheme.
These changes were agreed subject to a final attempt to reach out again to the Foundation and offer them a chance to reconsider. The Trust will therefore write again to the Foundation, urging the Trustees to reconsider. We hope that this public statement will persuade those close to the club to reconsider what we consider an excellent strategic proposal.