Minutes of Aldershot Town Supporters Trust AGM
EBB Lounge, ESS Stadium, Aldershot
Wednesday 17 June 2015
PRESENT : Tommy Anderson (TA), Ian Barnett (IB), Ian Dawkins (ID), Ian Goodwright (IG), Bob Green (BG), Sefton Owens (SO, Scott Simpkin (SS), Janet Guess (JG) and a quorum of members.
Ian Barnett welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the top table.
- Apologies : Apologies for absence had been received from prospective Trust Board Member Darryl Evans and John Orme, Trust Community Advisor.
- To approve the minutes of the 2014 AGM : Sean Chambers proposed and Mike Billett seconded that the minutes be approved. This was agreed by those present, with one abstention. Members unable to attend the meeting had had the opportunity to vote on line and 107 members had voted on the minutes. 69 were in favour, 0 against and 38 abstentions. There was one postal vote which was in favour. The minutes were therefore approved.
- Chairman’s Report : IB reported on Trust activities throughout the year:
- Trust Directors – The last twelve months had proved to be a challenging and exciting period for the Shots Trust. Last summer, Ian Goodwright and John Orme stepped down from the positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively. Ian and John are real Trust stalwarts and inevitably the Trust has suffered from them stepping down. Fortunately Ian has continued as a director and has been a massive help to the Trust, offering valuable guidance in light of some challenging circumstances. Ian has announced he will be stepping down from Trust Board duties after tonight as a consequence of increased work commitments.
Indeed being a member of the Trust Board is a surprisingly time consuming and demanding role. It is with regret that Trust Directors Stuart Griffiths, Jason Berney, Peter O’Donnell and Dave Donovan have stepped down for a variety of reasons. Whilst these resignations may appear alarming, there is no doubt that all departing directors have left the Trust Board on excellent terms and all of whom will continue to support the principles and work of the Trust moving forward. IB would like to put on my record his thanks to all those who have served the Trust and who have decided to step down.
The loss of such key personnel had been softened by the recruitment of Ian Dawkins and Scott Simpkin who were co-opted to the Board and Darryl Evans who is seeking election tonight. Scott offers youth and creativity whilst Darryl will bring experience, enthusiasm and leadership. In addition to his professional work, Darryl has built a reputation for developing Farnham Boys FC. After several months serving as a Business Advisor to the Trust, IB stated his delight that Ian Dawkins has joined the Trust Board. Ian Dawkins is well known to many Shots fans and he brings much needed business experience and a network of helpful contacts.
Ian, Darryl and Scott will be instrumental in helping the Trust to develop and be successful. With the recent comings and goings, our new-look Trust Board comprises of Ian Barnett as Chairman, Tommy Anderson, Sefton Owens, Bob Green, Ian Dawkins, Darryl Evans, Scott Simpkin and secretary, Janet Guess.
Notwithstanding the ability and commitment of the Trust Board, there is no doubt that the Trust and therefore the Football Club would benefit from further additions to the Board to help realise the obvious potential. It is important that the Trust Board continues to strengthen. IB would welcome the opportunity to speak to anybody who might be interested in helping the Trust or joining as a Trust director.
- Community Stand – Over 1,000 tickets for the Stand had been given to local youth organisations and the Trust had provided the database to the Club to help sell the debentures and distribute tickets for next season
- Meetings with the Club Board – A number of meetings have been with the Club Board and a good relationship has been built with a number of Directors, in particular Brian Bloomfield. An excellent relationship has also been forged with Mark Butler, which would be developed for the coming season.
As the critical friend of the Club, the Trust needs to balance long term and short term objectives which can be a challenge. The recent announcements regarding U11s and closer links with the community are very encouraging, and the Club Board should be congratulated. The Trust look forward to working with the Club in 2015-16. Despite rumours to the contrary, the Trust are always willing to help the Club. Unfortunately some of the projects proposed have not been in the interests of the Trust (i.e. Community Hub, Video Analyst). The Trust would welcome ideas from members for any ideas that they would like to see the Trust help the club with.
- Fundraising – This is an area where the Trust has not done well but there are already plans for next season with the Lucky 7s competition and Neil Baker’s Help your Football Club. More details would be available shortly. IB also highlighted the significant income generating potential of the Easyfundrasing scheme that would be discussed later.
- Army Show – The Trust had a stand at the Army Show which was a big success and proved very popular – until it rained.
- Scoreboard – Matchday operators have been provided by the Shots Trust and the content and presentation of information provided on the board is much improved. The Trust has contributed towards the costs of the mains circuit and external lighting.
- Mascot competition – This design competition was a success with the winners coming from Goldsworth Primary School in Woking. The design is in hand now, and their should be a new mascot early in the new season.
- Website – The website has been refreshed which was much cheaper than building one from scratch. The feedback on the website has been good although it is recognised that the content needs to be updated more regularly.
- New Logo – A new modern, easy to re-produce logo had been introduced which reflected the association with ATFC.
- Forever Shots Fund – This fund was created to enable supporters to donate money to a ring-fenced account only to be used to purchase a majority shareholding in the Football Club should the opportunity arise. Where people had requested, money was transferred into this fund from the previous Escrow account started when the Club went into administration.
- Easy Fundraising – This had increased from 18 members last summer to 128 now.
- Sponsorship – The Trust had sponsored away travel to Rochdale and also sponsored Damon Lathrope’s shirts which was now being raffled.
- Community Ownership – the Trust Board have explored the community ownership model and have worked with James Mathie and Nick Igoe at Supporters Direct on this. The Trust would not make a hostile bid for the Football Club but needed to be in a position to purchase a majority shareholding in the Football Club should the need or opportunity arise. The ultimate aim must be for the Football Club to come into Community Ownership.
- Trust President – Frank Burt has been appointed as Trust President and given lifetime Trust membership. Lifetime membership has also been awarded to former Trust Vice Chairman and Community Advisor John Orme.
- Fans Survey – A report was produced from this and a copy given to the Club. Many of the comments have been taken on board and will continue to be acted upon.
- Player of the Month and Player of the Year – The Trust have continued to manage this.
- Media – TA had been doing a tremendous job on the Trust social media activities with twitter followers up to 508, a 35% increase on the previous season and Facebook up to 304, up 134%, with these figures continuing to rise. The Trust had also had a page in the Club programme. The Trust were keen to improve communication with members and would be re-introducing monthly newsletters.
- College Fairs– Last year, the Trust also had a presence at University of Surrey and Creative Arts in Farnham and spoke on a Friday evening at the NEYH League AGM. It was suggested from the floor that the Trust also make contact with Farnborough College of Technology and Sixth Form College as students from these came from the local area and were more likely to be able to support the Football Club.
- Away Travel – the Trust have been able to arrange away travel to twelve games in 2014 – Barnet, Havant, Dartford, Tamworth, Braintree, Woking, Luton, Eastleigh, Telford, Dover, Portsmouth and Rochdale, thanks mainly to the considerable efforts of Ian Goodwright and Tommy Anderson.
- Front of Ground – the Trust have tried to provide a service to members, but it is evident that we need to re-think our matchday presence.
vii) Membership Numbers – Membership was down which was disappointing but was partly because of the large number of new members joining at the time of the Club going into administration who had not renewed.
|5 Year Adult||161||147||87||75|
|5 Year Snr||186||181||128||103|
The Trust would be looking at setting up an automatic renewal process and also were aware that incentives for membership had to be improved.
- Treasurer’s Report – IG said that Dave Donovan had answered the call for a Treasurer at the start of the season but had had to stand down from the post for personal reasons so IG had continued to hold the fort. He reported on a disappointing year, mainly due to the reduction in membership but also because of the lack of interest in away travel with most trips by minibus which did not generate the same profit.
John Pask pointed out an error in item 5 – money owed to directors. It was agreed that the wording be made more self-explanatory and the error corrected.
- To approve that the Financial Statements continue to receive an independent check –
The Trust accounts had been independently checked at no cost by Mike Greenwood, a qualified accountant, as the turnover had not exceeded £25,000 per annum and it was proposed by Richard Llanwarne that they continue to receive an independent check. This was seconded by John Pask and agreed by the meeting.
- Election of Directors – As outlined in the Trust rules a third of the Directors resigned each year. This year a number of directors had resigned and three new Director nominations had been received – Ian Dawkins, Scott Sinclair and Darryl Evans. Ian and Scott had previously been co-opted to the Board and all three election statements had been included with the AGM papers. The three nominees were therefore elected to the Board.
- Approval of New Rules and Associated Policies – IB said that it was important to update the Trust rules to bring them up-to-date but, more importantly, to allow the purchase of Community Shares to enable the Trust to be in a position to purchase a majority shareholding in the Football Club should the opportunity arise. The new rules are endorsed by Supporters Direct and updating the rules would align the Shots Trust with other Supporters Trusts across the country. The current Trust Board all endorsed this and 110 on-line votes had approved the motion with no votes against.
A heated discussion followed before the motion was put to the vote. 37 people voted in favour with five abstentions. The Trust agreed to go back to Supporters Direct to seek clarification on the voting rules and would report back to the membership.
- Objectives for the forthcoming year – IB said that establishing the role of the Trust remained a contentious issue and the Trust Board had come under criticism from the Club and indeed some supporters. Naturally the Trust cannot appease everybody but must work harder to balance objectives with the ultimate remit which is to act in the best interests of Aldershot Town FC.
The timing of tonight’s AGM sees the Trust at a crossroads. It is the collective opinion of the Trust Board (and all Trust directors whom have stepped down during the past few months) that the Trust should support the Club Board, seek common ground and work with the Club board to help deliver community ownership.
IB then outlined the objectives for the forthcoming year.
Relationship with the Football Club Board. The Trust were very supportive of the current Board and felt that the Club and the Trust shared a common goal. The Trust’s aim was to work with the Club Board towards this goal but also to provide support in the meantime.
Membership – A priority was to increase membership and the benefits received by members. One suggestion was for the Trust to pursue priority tickets for members for cup games, etc.
Strengthen the Trust Board and Advisory Committee – We have relied upon targeted approaches to individuals to join the Board. We need more people with new fresh ideas to ensure the Board can fulfill the Trust’s potential.
Grow the Forever Shots Fund – the Trust should capitalise on this welcome period of relative stability at the Club by not planning for failure, but planning to fulfill the objective of bringing the Club into community ownership and to secure long term football in Aldershot for generations to come. The Forever Shots Fund is a vital if not the only mechanism available to the Trust to ensure that a fund can be built to enable us to purchase the Football Club one day. This is to be done in a manner that does not undermine the work of the Club Board or that will damage the Football Club.
Increase the Trust’s Role in the Local Community – This was recognised as an important area but in able for the Trust’s role to be increased, more people were needed to step forward with time and ideas. However, the Trust were already proposing to purchase a minimum of 10 tickets for each home match for use by the local community.
Increase Fundraising – IB gave a short presentation on easyfundraising, the on-line shopping facility which could raise significant amounts of funds for the Trust. He urged everyone who shopped on-line to use this and highlighted the significant potential to rasie thousands of pounds at no cost to members. IB pleased for every Trust member to sign up and encourage friends and family to sign up.
- Any Other Business
Mike Hammond asked if the Club had made a profit in the previous financial year and whether the previous manager’s contract had been paid off. Despite these items not being within the Trust’s remit, they reported their belief that a small profit had been made.
John Pask proposed a note of thanks to the Directors for their work throughout the year and the meeting showed their appreciation.
Norman Gray expressed his concern at the Trust objectives as they did not appear to support the Football Club. IB disagreed with this, explaining that it was covered in item 1, improving the relationship with the Club Board. The Trust had been asked to support various projects throughout the season, some of which had been supported and some not. For example, the Trust had worked with the Club to provide reduced-price away travel to the cup game at Rochdale. However, they had also been approached for support with the Community Hub in the Town Centre and for the East Bank Bar and, having carried out due diligence, had not felt it in membership interests to provide funds. In fact, the Football Club itself had not felt that the East Bank Bar was a viable project and the Community Hub had subsequently closed. The Trust had also sponsored a player, and had sponsored a match. The Trust were keen to support the Football Club Board but needed to be prudent with members’ money. IB said that the Trust welcomed constructive criticism and invited any members with suggestions for projects that the Trust should explore to come forward with their suggestions or contact the Trust directly.
IB said that the Trust Board needed to be strengthened. However, it was not necessary to be a Director to help and the Trust would welcome volunteers to help or any ideas. IB encouraged anybody willing to help to contact the Trust.
The Damon Lathrope shirts had been sponsored by the Trust last year and these were now subject to a raffle, tickets for which were on sale tonight.
There being no other business, the meeting closed at 9.45 pm.