Firstly, thank you, to each and every person who came to our meeting last night. Apologies for the delay in a summing up, but I didn’t leave the room there till 11 o’clock and then I’ve been hard at work all day, all along making emails and taking phone calls, chatting on social media with people keen to help, and desperate to know what’s going on,
What should be in no doubt after last nights showing, was that the people of this town will fight for their club. They’re not going to rest until it’s safe, until it’s fixed. We’re trying our best to be the vehicle for that, and that’s why last night was important, because we needed to hear your fears, hopes and plans.
Thanks to everyone who spoke and asked questions. We got asked the whole range. Finances, players, plans for the future. A full minutes will be released shortly but for now allow me to report back what I can.
We opened unsurprisingly with questions about the financial situation at the club. We haven’t seen the books, but we have asked to as part of our bid for the club. We have been told some figures such as current playing budgets, however they will be irrelevant going into next season as we will be setting our own. Talking to people who have worked for the club, we have been able to ascertain that our outgoings would be a minimum of £250,000 rising to £350,000. That’s before we factor in any current outstanding costs which would be worked out during due diligence.
We were asked what sponsorship we might get and Mike reported that following our previous meeting we had a lot of positive support from the businesses we met and we are confident we would receive the sort of financial backing we would need. These are people who love the club like you and want it to succeed.
We were asked about the position of our bid. At the moment, Lee is considering other options as well, but should they not work out, he will move on with us. We are therefore waiting for the outcome of those negotiations.
The big question was will the club survive. On that we can say no more than what has been said by the club, that three things needed to be fulfilled, and that at the time of their statement, two had been and one needed to be. We have offered support where possible to the club and await any further developments.
With that in mind, we were also asked what happens if the club went under. We had already conducted research into the finances required to run a club at the Griff’s level and with a budget on par with the top clubs in that league. Through discussions with people familiar with the financial side of the game at that level we’ve come up with a figure of £150,000 all in. Still a huge amount, but reformation would of course give a blank slate to start from.
This of course provoked the question of why we just don’t start our own club and move on. My response was that if the current club is sold, what use would a new club be, however I did promise to contact the Midland Football Leage to find out more about their procedures for entry, in the event we need to do that. I did that today and they promptly replied.
In the event that the club folded, we would, need to contact the FA and then the league, to create a Phoenix club. The deadline for that is essentially a week from now. However, should the club not fold, then there would simply be no space in the league for us. To be clear, for the next season, while the current club exists, we could not be able to form a new team in the Midland League. It is completely out of our control.
The situation regarding ownership of the ground was brought up and we were asked if we had approached Ian Neale for his share of the ground. This again is not an option and the ground will be sold as a whole, however we do know that Mr. Neale wants the football club to continue to be as successful as possible and for his support in that, we thank him.
There was a question about whether or not going full time had been the beginning of the end, and I think the consensus in the room was that it was a part of many things that had gone towards people feeling alienated, but what did resonate was that the key thing to bring people back was that feeling of belonging, and of community. Many people spoke of their personal experiences of the club, and it becomes clear that the relationships we forge at that club are ones that bind us through life.
Most importantly, they will be the bonds that we have to pull on to get through the next few weeks. For this club to thrive, it needs the town involved and believing in it. It needs people to want to be there week in, week out, and if the Coop are not to be the next custodians, we want to extend an open invitation to whoever it is, to come and sit down with us, and you, in a similar setting and work with us to bring this club forward.
It’s clear this club is crying out for a new start and the fans need certainty. We’re doing all we can to play our part in that, but we may just be one small piece in a bigger picture.
Finally, thanks to Marcus Jones, the members of the council and Claire Harrison who joined us to support what we’re doing. We need to take this message to the wider community and your help is invaluable in doing that.
Up The Borough.