The meeting was attended by Shahid Azeem and Russ Howell from the Football Club with Ian Goodwright, John Orme, Ian Barnett, Tommy Anderson of the Trust Board and Janet Guess (Secretary). The following is a summary of the meeting:
1. Questions from Supporters
i. Transparency : SA expressed his disappointment at the amount of criticism on Shotsweb regarding the lack of transparency from the Football Club Board – the Board considered they were being as transparent as possible:
- 2 Fans Forums have been held so far, where the entire board were present and all questions were answered honestly
- responding to all correspondence received
- updates in the matchday programme
It was agreed that in future, the Summary of Meeting notes would be published on the Trust website with a link from Shots web.
With regard to the sum raised following the appeal by Terry Owens to ‘save’ the Football Club, it was emphasised that this was on behalf of the administrators not the Consortium.
ii. Infrastructure : SA said things were going well considering this was still a new business, everyone is working very hard to make it a success. Nicky Banger is now back working full-time on the commercial side. The Club has an excellent relationship with Grainger plc who are involved in the Regeneration of Aldershot project. Rushmoor Borough Council are being very supportive too. The club are investigating opportunities for future improvements to the ground in order to make this the hub of the community. There are no plans to move from the Rec.
iii. Catering : JO said that, although supporters appreciated the various offers in the bars, the majority would prefer consistency, with attractive prices and football being shown on the TVs every matchday. It was agreed that a Happy Hour every match would be a good idea and the Football Club Board agreed to approach Clarks Catering with this proposal.
iv. Food : JO said that the food provided in the South Stand Phoenix Lounge had been very popular in previous seasons but RH explained that other people had complained that they could not get into the bar for a drink as people who had eaten tended to simply remain in there for an extended length of time without purchasing further drinks. He said that the revenue was now the same without the food and less staff were necessary. It was agreed that questions on catering would be included in the supporter survey to be conducted by the Trust in February and the club were willing to reinstate the service subject to demand and revenue
v. Official Website : The Football Club accepted the criticism of the site but explained the Club was committed to the Football League site. They were in contact with them and were looking at other possibilities as well as conducting a cost/benefit analysis. There is ongoing liaising with BT regarding an upgrade to the communication link/ telephone system as well as the IT system.
vi. Share Issue – a question had been sent to the Trust from a supporter asking why the Football Club directors had issues shares for the new company. SA responded that this had been in response to requests from supporters for involvement and to raise capital to be able to improve the facilities, team, etc. Shares were valued at £1 each with a minimum share holding of 100. It was agreed that the Trust would have application forms available on match days at the Trust gazebo.
vii. Family Stand : A supporter had asked if a side could be put on the High Street end of the Family Stand as this was particularly cold in the wind. The Board will investigate this.
viii Company Name : In response to a question from a supporter regarding the Club being registered under a different name ie.‘Love of the Game’, SA explained that this company was established for the purposes of acquiring the former entity ‘ATFC 1992 Ltd’. Love of the Game trades as Aldershot Town Football Club. This is in the process of a name change to Aldershot Football Club. This name change has been lodged at company house and is going through the formalities.
ix. Current Directors : These are SA, RH, Tony Knights, John Leppard and John Denning. It was noted that many supporters did not know who the directors were, although all have featured in matchday programmes. It was agreed that the official website would include a short profile of the directors.
x. Credit Cards : A supporter had attempted to pay for tickets to a match with a credit card but had been informed that the Club could not take credit card payments 15 minutes before kick-off. SA agreed to look into this.
RH said that the Club could sympathise with the recently published article about Hereford, running a club with reducing revenue is challenging.
There was a three year plan to have the team in a position to challenge for promotion and that was one reason why Andy Scott had been given the additional two years on his contract. There were conditions in the terms of Andy’s contract should the team be promoted or relegated, but it would be inappropriate for these to be disclosed.
With regard to the CVA, the Club were ahead of the payment schedule.
RH commented that the current board are not sugar daddies, cash-rich property developers or asset stripping investors, but just a small group who have an attachment to the club and have invested their own money in an attempt to keep Aldershot Town FC alive whilst setting the club on a path of sustainability. The only alternative over the summer was the loss of our club.
In order to secure a place in the Skrill Conference, the Board’s Financial plans were exposed to stringent review in order to ensure that the financial health of the club would meet the conference strict rules. Developing a robust financial plan following relegation and the loss of Football League funding was a huge challenge. The conference accountants were happy that the Board’s plans were built on solid assumptions and were robust.
The old business model had to be overhauled, outsourcing of loss making activity and making very difficult cost cutting decisions. RH emphasised that the Board are determined to aggressively attack the club’s cost base and will continue to make the right calls. The aim is always to maximise the spend available to the manager to put the best possible team on the pitch within their budgetary constraints.
The Club is not out of woods, there have been a number of setbacks – a string of unfortunate injuries have necessitated additional spend on loan players, our early exit from the FA Cup has meant we will not receive any “windfall revenues” that a cup run can generate to offset these additional costs, but the Board have managed to cover these shortfalls.
Perhaps more worrying though is the negativity that surrounds the efforts to keep Football alive in Aldershot, resulting in the recent decline in attendance. This will damage our financial performance. RH advised that the Board will continue to maintain their commitment to the playing budget including some limited additional funds to add to the squad in the coming weeks. However, such funds have to sourced, but where from? The Club received a “one time parachute payment” upon being relegated. Whilst this in no way matched the League funding, it is still a significant amount of money. The business model assumption was not to spend all this money this year, but to spread it over a couple of years to ensure we start next season in the most competitive position. However, the Board may well have to call on more of this payment this year than originally planned. This being so, it is likely to have a negative impact of next year’s playing budget.
RH advised the Board’s thanks to the Club’s many sponsors both new and old, without their commitment, they could simply not run the club football. Their efforts in this area have been fantastic given such a late start. In addition, we must do all we can to keep supporters on board and encourage new supporters. Again, the Trust’s efforts with the Elm Community Stand were praised.
The Board will continue to explore new opportunities and additional revenue streams and they are committed to keeping supporters informed of progress.
3. Frank Burt Centenary Match
The match against Kidderminster on 18 January would be dedicated to Frank and this has received his support. It was hoped that many dignitaries would attend.
4. Half-Season Season Tickets
IB suggested that supporters would appreciate a 10 game Season Ticket which could be used for any ten games as many could not attend all matches and therefore a full season ticket was not necessarily that attractive to them. RH agreed to discuss this with Bob Green.
5. Carol Concert
SA said that all Directors, management and players would be in attendance.
6. Eagle Radio Toy Appeal
56 good quality toys had been received at the Trust Gazebo which was tremendous. A 50:50 draw winner and had also donated most their winnings towards buying additional toys for the appeal.
7. Next Meeting
The next meeting between the Club Board and the Trust is scheduled for Thursday, 9 January 2014 commencing at 6:30 pm to be held in the ESS Boardroom.