I’m not going to lie, this last ten days has been the hardest for me, during my time on the Co-op.
As you all know, over Christmas I have been very vocal on here, and face to face with people, about our plans to pitch to Lee Thorn, our business plan for the football club.
Last week, in responding to a fair question from the press, Lee Thorn revealed, that despite what was being said by me, he had received no communication from the Co-op.
This has created an issue for us, in that I was under the belief, after requesting that it would happen, that Lee would be emailed. I would never have written the article, or spoke in anyway about the plans if not.
I won’t point fingers, because that’s not constructive, but somewhere along the line, what I was asking for, wasn’t received or acted upon. That leaves me looking like I’ve lied, On here, and harder for me to swallow, when I’ve talked to some of you in person, and for that, I apologise on behalf of the Co-operative board, to the members, if we haven’t backed up our words, because in truth, we haven’t.
Admittedly, I took that personally. I felt I had put myself out there, and that others hadn’t backed me up, and that in doing so, we looked disorganised, and I looked like I might have been singing from a different song sheet. That wasn’t the case, and whilst I would have liked an apology on the issue, that never came, at least not from where it should have done. The chairman of the Football Club, and the journalist behind the article both called me that day, offering their apologies that they could only go with the facts in front of them, and for any embarrassment it might cause me, and on the record, I offer them both thanks for that.
Yesterday, as I sat and tried to write this briefing, I felt I couldn’t, because I felt I didn’t fit in with the board anymore. I felt perhaps then it was time to move on, and walk away. But then I watched something online, that brought me back to reality, and allowed me to take myself out of the centre, and get my head in the game.
I don’t care about your political leaning on this, right, left, centre or who cares, there was something humbling, something beautiful, about the reaction of Joe Biden to being given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. To see a man who has given his all for the people, and expected nothing in return, moved to tears as he is recognised for it, showed me the true meaning of why I joined the board. It wasn’t to satisfy any personal need. It was to give you, the members and the wider fan base the club they deserve.
I could have walked away, because I don’t agree with how we’ve handled this, but then, how could I fix it? How could I amend the errors I think have been made from the outside? I couldn’t. I have to stay and see this through, because there is still a chance that we could help shape the club, and to be involved in making things better for all of us.
The consequence of all that has happened, has been that we have been left behind in the bidding process, by other groups, who will move ahead faster. I don’t feel this necessarily ends our interest, as we have seen before things fall apart towards the end, and we will continue to develop our plans, but now with one eye on looking at working with other groups, as well as on our own.
For me, this isn’t a major issue. I’ve always believed that our position should be to work in partnership with others, and now the figures that have been suggested are in the public domain, I think we can all see why. If we could make that sort of money, it would be incredible, but I think through crowd funding we would come up short of the total figure, and it would be best for us to look towards a part ownership, again, as I’ve suggested on the German model basis.
So now, the question is, what do we do now?
First of all, we’re going to try to find out who these other bidders are, and attempt to find out where we might fit into their plans. If they’re reading this, I invite them to contact us, and we would be delighted to meet you and talk.
Second of all, we will continue with our plan to make a pitch to Lee. Hopefully, that will be communicated to him this time, and before that point, we will be having a meeting with Supporter’s Direct, to help fine tune the financial points on the document.
Finally, we’re going to try and make more of a concerted effort to work with the club, and will be inviting Lee to talk to us, about how we can help organise people to support around the club. Be that our board, members, or the wider fan base, a club with the community pulling together, has to be better. We want to make sure that this becomes an agreement that sees the club benefit, but also sees those who help, feel valued and wanted. Volunteering only works in that way, and hopefully, we can help drive that sort of relationship.
Moving on from our plans, we have also been working behind the scenes to ascertain what’s been going on with Skipgate.
To say that this is a disappointing development is an understatement. We want to end this quickly, and will be talking to both the Rugby Club and the Football Club, and trying to find a way to diffuse the situation. We’re not going to comment on who is in the right or wrong, the only thing we want to see, is ultimately, a positive and harmonious relationship between both clubs, that allows them to both operate in a positive manner, for the good of the wider community, and we will do all we can to facilitate that happening.
All of us on the Co-operative board want to have a much better relationship with the Nuns. Some of us even have pipe dreams of taking that relationship to further levels and even incorporating other sporting teams, into some kind of group befitting sport within our town. To that end, I hope that this incident is short lived and quickly forgotten. We all know how hard it would be to build bridges if there were any serious consequences on either side, and I urge all of the clubs supporters, to act in a way that doesn’t heighten tensions.
There was some good news this week though. Eddie Stevens and Chris Bird who both formerly coached the youth team at the Boro’, made a wonderful donation into our funds, and we are extremely grateful for their continued support of the club in this way.
Finally, a date was set for our AGM. Provisionally, it will be May 31st 2017.
The AGM is a chance for people to put themselves forward to be voted onto the board. Given what’s happened this last month, it’s clear we have a continued need for people from a business background especially, to come onto the board and help drive us better. We’re not yet in a position where I think we have the required skill sets needed, so we need more help. You don’t even have to wait till then, as we have opportunities for people to be co-opted onto the board, so if you feel you can help your fellow fans, that you have a passion for the football club, and ideas you would love to see realised, then let us know, because we do need you.
Now though, let’s go get behind the lads and look for another big win in the Trophy. This is a football club after all.
Up The Boro.