Minutes of meeting between Trust In Yellow representatives and Club board held on Saturday, 28th November, 2009.
Present: Alan Scarisbrick, Bill Sloan, Phil Carder, Martin Robinson, Ben Kelly (Trust in Yellow)
Charlie Clapham, Sam Shrouder, Haydn Preece (Club)
The agenda followed was the one sent by Trust In Yellow to the board. However, at the request of the club, item 7 was dealt with first. The original questions are in italics.
7. Strategic planning
Does the club have a plan for its development in the medium to long term and, in particular, if circumstances arose in which it could no longer depend on the financial support of its present major backers.
For the club Mr Shrouder outlined the Chairman’s role and personal investment in the club over the past years.
There had never been any other offers from people willing to make substantial investments in the club but they would welcome any offers in the future with ‘open arms’. Whilst the club did not have any strategic planning for the future of the club in the event of the Chairman & vice Chairman moving on, however neither had any intention of leaving the club in the near future.
The club would welcome hearing the Trust’s views on strategic plans for the club.
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1. Future of the Youth Development Schemes & Reserve team
This is currently a great success story primarily due to the development of young players through the youth schemes run by Allan Smart and others, including first team squad members.
Will these schemes be running next season and into the foreseeable future?
When the Trust was asked to support the Reserve team financially for the 2009/10 season we were informed that future funding would be derived from the Learning & Skills Council for the SSES scheme. Can the club confirm that this remains the case? Details of Trust funding provided to date and a projection of costs for the full season are attached.
The club was very grateful for the support that the Trust had given to enable a reserve team to run this season. CC said it had been a great success and that the work of all the coaches and Allan Smart had been fantastic.
If the reserve team was to run in the future it would be necessary for the Trust to fund it in a similar way.
The Trust pointed that they had been told that in future the majority of funding would be provided by income from the LSC.
The Chairman said that this was in fact not the case and added that in view of the abolition of the LSC next year (its funding responsibilities are being given to Local Authorities) the future of the SSES scheme was under review.
Haydn Preece will liaise with the LSC regarding this. Haydn advised that the LSC themselves were not sure as to what the future held for them and that there were ongoing issues.
As a worst case scenario the scheme would just continue for one more year with the students in the present first year of the course. The future of the PASE scheme was more secure and would continue to run at KGV. Although the club welcomed the running of the reserve team this year it was the view of the board and the manager that a Reserve team was not a priority for the club compared to the budget for the first team squad. The Chairman added that Liam preferred to work with a smaller squad as at present.
Haydn highlighted the opportunity for the Trust to recruit new members at Reserve games this season, primarily from the parents of youth team members.
The future of the reserve team would be discussed at the next meeting with the Trust in the New Year when the future of the SSES scheme was clearer.
2. Current financial position
The club has previously suggested to members that, contrary to the pattern of previous years, a small profit was anticipated for 2008/09. As an initiative to reassure Trust members of the club’s financial stability, could a draft copy of its 2008/09 Profit and Loss Account and Balance Sheet be made available for review by members of the Trust Board?
How do the financial results for the 2009/10 year to date compare with budget? How is the club’s financial position monitored internally on an ongoing basis?
The Chairman said that the ccounts for 2008/9 would be audited in the next couple of weeks. It would not be appropriate to show these to the Trust before the other shareholders. The exact details would be made available to shareholders in the annual report but it was likely that they would show a figure within five thousand pounds either way of break even.
CC advised that accounts were prepared quarterly and for this season that they currently showed a shortfall on budget mainly due to lower than expected attendance figures. If gates stay at the present level and we were to go out of the FA Trophy at an early stage we would be in line for a loss in the region of £20,000.
He praised Liam for his working within the set budgets and commented that LW was very ‘responsible’ with his money and treated the club’s money ‘with respect’.
CC said that whilst the ambition was BSP football in the near future and the Football League remained the ‘holy grail’ they would not bankrupt the club for this.
LW had an ‘unbelievable determination to win the league this season’.
In response to a question from the Trust, CC stated that we had received our share of the transfer fee of Carl Baker to Stockport but would not be entitled of any proportion of any further transfer of him. We would receive a proportion of the fee of any initial further transfer of Craig Noone or Mark Duffy.
H.P. commented on the situation regarding complimentary tickets. He said that contrary to comments elsewhere there were far fewer complimentary tickets issued here than at many clubs.
3. Pricing policy
At the end of last season, Trust members expressed concern that concessionary admission prices, especially for those under 16 years of age, were above the level readily affordable by a large section of the club’s potential supporter base. The issue has been further highlighted by the absence of any current scheme for the allocation of free tickets via schools.
A review of these prices was also promised as a response to questions raised at the AGM. Since admission prices have remained unchanged, can the findings of any review be disclosed together with the reasons for making no alterations?
The club had decided not to reduce prices as they did not believe the increase in attendance would cover the loss of income from reduced pricing. In any case there was a season ticket for Under 16s at £50 which represented very good value.
The Trust said it felt that the pricing for Under 16s was putting off the supporters of the future. It agreed the season ticket was good value but would not encourage young people to attend who were not yet committed supporters. The Trust asked how many 11-16 year olds attend at present. The club replied that there were 30 season tickets sold at £50 and it would be possible to work out how many others were paying the concessionary rate.
At a time when crowds are in steady decline at Haig Avenue, what plans does the club have to encourage floating, vanished and armchair supporters to attend games and increase match day revenue?
The club said that it felt that the best way to increase attendances was to have a successful team playing attractive football. They would welcome the Trust’s ideas.
For the Trust, an example was mentioned of increasing community links in particular with the junior matches at half time which were always successful but were happening much less often this season.
5. Commercial activities
What progress is the Club making in its attempts to improve the commercial side of the club and develop other streams of revenue? Are naming rights for the ground still under negotiation? Does the ‘Goalden Lottery’ continue to generate significant income?
CC said that since Haydn had left his position as Chief Executive at the beginning of the season some of his duties had been taken on by other people including the Chairman and other volunteers. A club in the Conference North could not support a full time Chief Executive. The naming rights for the ground were still ‘available.
The Goalden Lottery was not generating a significant profit. Could the Trust encourage its members to join the Lottery through them?
6. Catering facilities
Twelve months ago Trust In Yellow raised concerns from supporters at the standard of catering on offer at Haig Avenue. In May members were told by then Chief Executive Haydn Preece that there would be substantial changes to the catering facilities with a new menu and new eating areas. The understanding of members is that the intention was to install a number of brick buildings to improve the catering facilities at the ground. As these are not yet in place, can the club confirm what stage these developments have currently reached?
The club had been involved with Richard Hughes from Caterforce and Sefton Council in putting plans forward for improving facilities. The Council had confirmed that planning permission for the building proposed would be required, a new unit was now on the ground and would soon be sited to provide improved facilities.
8. Disabled facilities
We have been informed that the ‘Centenary Appeal Committee’ raised a sum of some £6,000 that was earmarked for the improvement of facilities for disabled supporters at Haig Avenue. Can we assume that this money would be available if the Trust proposed a suitable scheme for development in conjunction with the club?
The Chairman replied that the money raised by the centenary committee had been spent partly on the disabled toilets within the ground and on other facilities. Whilst they supported any efforts to improve disabled facilities this would have to be linked to plans to raise the necessary money.
Money available from the Football Foundation was far less now than it had been.
9. Community involvement
What plans does the club have to build its links with the community, in particular local schools?
The Trust mentioned a meeting it was to have with Southport Juniors to agreed ways in which we could work together to improve links with the community and local schools in particular.
10. Other matters.
The Chairman said that a club of Southport’s size always depended on voluntary help from supporters for which they were grateful. They would welcome any offers of any further help.
CC stated that TIY had a opportunity to have a real impact on the future of the club and that there should be none of the ‘them and us’ attitude which has been apparent in the past and that everyone was a supporter of the club whether they be a board member or paying spectator. SS thanked TIY for their ongoing efforts
HP encouraged the trust to become more involved in match day organisation and recruiting more volunteers to help with the different tiers of activity on a match day.
11. Next meeting
Saturday, 23rd January 12 noon (Day of fixture with Telford)
At this meeting it was agreed that the Trust would outline its views on the future strategy for the club and what they would like to happen in the next couple of years. The meeting would also include an update on position with the SSES Youth Scheme