In Tuesday’s Shots TV production, ATFC Chairman Mr Azeem stated that the Shots Trust had made no attempt to engage with the Club, or meet with them. We are concerned that Mr Azeem’s staff may not have passed on the details of our many offers, so we have therefore compiled the following list of approaches made by the Trust to ATFC. We strongly believe that members and supporters more widely are entitled to know the detail, and also to know that none of our offers have been accepted.
Our offers to the Club, each of which was rejected or simply not responded to, fell foul of the Club’s unwillingness to provide invoices against which we, as an auditable body in our own right, could pay over the funds. Our numerous approaches, made by Chairman Tommy Anderson (TA) on the Trust’s behalf, were as follows:
- TA met with the Foundation in November 2019 to discuss a financial package to assist and support their work, initially worth circa £1,500 every quarter. The Foundation accepted gratefully but, following their Board meeting a week later (attended by Mr Azeem), they suddenly and with no explanation refused our offer.
- TA wrote to Danny Searle on 13th December 2019, following the Trust’s AGM. Having not heard back, TA followed up with an email on 20th December and yet again on 30th Mr Searle eventually responded on 13th January, asking when TA was available to meet. TA responded the following day with dates and times but again had to chase Mr Searle for a response on 26th January. Having stressed the Trust’s desire to make progress after months of lacklustre responses from the Club (and because the Club were clearly struggling to field a full team and substitutes, losing a game the previous weekend), Mr Searle finally scheduled a meeting for 27thJanuary at the EBB Stadium; it was also attended by Mr Bob Green. They had fairly wide-ranging discussions, covering the Trust’s proposal to pay for whatever the Club most needed.
Mr Green emailed on 6th February to say that the Club wanted to use the remaining BTB funds on Astro 3G, either at the Army Garrison or the Surrey Sports Park. After consulting with the Trust Board, TA responded the following day, very keen to help pay for the costs but stipulating that we needed both an invoice and an agreed BTB closure article, with photographs, for both the Club and Trust’s websites. This had been agreed at the meeting on 27th. Having been assured that the Club would come back to him quickly with arrangements, it was extremely disappointing to have to chase again – firstly on 24th February and again on 9th March. In the latter email, TA gave a deadline for the Club to respond with invoices and PR arrangements; failure to respond would mean that we would have to withdraw the offer and seek another agreed project.
Mr Green eventually responded to tell us that our conditions, the provision of invoices and joint PR, were considered to be “unacceptable” by the Club.
- TA also met with the Supporters Club in January 2020. We expressed our eagerness to work with them to the benefit of the Club; nothing came of this meeting.
- TA spoke to Mark Butler on 10th February, asking if we could sponsor the Ebbsfleet match, which at that point had yet to secure a sponsorship deal. Mark had in fact made an urgent social media post asking for willing sponsors to come forward. No response was received to the initial email, so TA emailed again on 13th February, asking if the match had now been successful in attracting a sponsor. Again, absolute silence until 27th February when Mark emailed to say that he’d received an offer of sponsorship earlier than the Trust’s on 10th February!
- Robin Carder, our Deputy Chairman at the time, worked with the Club on the Health and Safety problems that arose in February. Several meetings were held and the issues were successfully resolved.
- On 23rd March, on behalf of the Trust, TA wrote to Mr Azeem, copying in all the other directors, with a new financial offer to help the Club in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown and the cancellation of football in the lower leagues. Having received no response whatsoever, TA arranged a phone call with Club Director Lewis Scard. Mr Scard then informed TA that the offer had been rejected.
Following further conversation with Mr Scard, TA wrote again to Mr Azeem and Mr Scard on 9th April, informing them that we would be making a fourth improved financial offer to help the Club which would include the requirement for invoices and a mutually agreed PR release (which Mr Scard had previously agreed was completely fine!).
- That offer of circa £13,000, was made on 16th April; we suggested that we could support:
- H&S improvements at the ground;
- To pay for a named, agreed project;
- To pay for the 3G training pitches, as previously suggested;
- To purchase shares.
Our sole aim was to help the Club financially and try to build a more amicable relationship with the Club, but… Once again, the offer was rejected.
- On 22nd April, and following more chasing by TA, Mr Scard emailed TA. He acknowledged the Trust’s various financial offers; informed TA that the Club would now be very happy to accept the offer which would see the Trust purchase £5,000 shares and a further £5,000 spent on a joint Trust and Club specific project. Mr Scard also confirmed that the Club would be happy to provide invoices and that a mutually PR statement would be made.
The Trust informed Mr Azeem, Mr Scard and Mr Green on 12th May that we would be purchasing £5,000 shares on 14th May, as discussed and in order to give the Club immediate access to funds. Despite Mr Scard writing to TA (copying Mr Azeem and Mr Green) on 18th May to thank us for the shares purchase and promise to issue the shares certificate as soon as possible, we have yet to receive the certificate. No joint PR statement was ever made, nor was a project ever agreed.
- On 24th April, TA contacted Mr Green and the Supporters Club (SC), offering to run the Player of the Season vote; this was agreed! We set up the online vote and shared details with SC so that their subscribers’ votes could also be counted.
- Throughout May and June, TA kept chasing Mr Scard and Mr Green for updates and progress. No progress was made but, in July, our relationship with the Club hit a new low. TA had again emailed Mr Scard looking for funding to be arranged. Mr Scard forwarded the email to Bob Green, asking for an update. Mr Green, forgetting that TA was copied on the email, responded:
“I just want their money so we can close the situation as they will naturally die in time as they are doing nothing other than Cash for Shots”
The Board was quite disgusted by this email, which clearly demonstrated that the Club and its officials hold the Trust in contempt and have no respect whatsoever for the significant sums of money (£60k+) raised by us for the Club’s benefit over the years. It also gives the lie to their previous, year-long insistence that they were willing to work with us for the benefit of fans.
We lodged a formal complaint with the Club on 20th July and received an acknowledgement and apology from Mr Scard on 21st July.
- Finally, TA wrote to Mr Scard personally on 22nd September, asking for a meeting to discuss the current impasse in the Trust’s relationship with the Club. We need to find a way to achieve a sensible, constructive working relationship where both parties can contribute to improving and supporting the Club. Mr Scard responded, saying that he would contact TA once the Club had clarity as to whether the season was going to start as scheduled on 3rd October.
No further contact has been made by the Club….
This is where things currently stand. Mr Azeem is mistaken in claiming that we have not engaged with the Club; by ATFC’s refusal to simply provide invoices or to engage with us, our Club has been denied thousands of pounds of much-needed funding.
The Shots Trust