One of Trust in Yellows' major objectives from the outset has been to represent supporters to the club's board of directors. Members, supporters, committee members and the board of directors have all acknowledged the need to formally underpin the working relationship of the two bodies. Having campaigned supporters via the local media and on the trustinyellow.com website - TIY produced an agenda and a series of questions to put to the board, the answers are presented below.
The meeting was held on July 14th 2007 in the Vice Presidents Bar - Grandstand Club, Haig Avenue.
Charlie Clapham (Southport Football Club Chairman),
Sam Shrouder (Southport Football Club Vice-Chairman),
Haydn Preece (Southport Football Club Chief Executive),
Jonathan O'Byrne (Trust in Yellow Chairman),
Andrew Davis (Trust in Yellow Committee Member)
Paul Isenwater (Trust in Yellow Secretary)
Trust in Yellow acknowledged the developments made by the club in respect of the painting of the bar, the CCTV cameras which are in the process of being installed and the new projector. It was also conveyed that "Grandstand Gold" had been well received by supporters.
TIY asked if the club wished to make further progress and if so what plans existed?
Haydn Preece answered on behalf of Southport Football Club, he has calculated the bar is running at £50,000 per annum below its potential. He intended to arrest this deficit by aiming to have two functions on per week this would include wine and beer festivals. Trust in Yellow members may hire the room for free. Jon Jessop of Southport Community Radio would
be a focal part of this. The club has extended its cellar facilities to further accommodate Grandstand Gold, this will reduce wastage when demand isn't reached as currently the real ale can only be stored for a limited period.
Trust in Yellow asked whether there was scope to install windows in the future to provide more light.
Charlie Clapham stated that historically there had been issues with noise and complaints from neighbours, however Haydn Preece qualified that the entertainments licence had been granted with no objections and some local residents seemed to be warming to the bar. Haydn hopes to get the local residents involved in the bar. The club want the supporters to be proud of its bar.
On the issue of pass outs (which would allow supporters to obtain access to the bar at half-time), Haydn Preece stated that he had investigated the feasibility of pass outs however having spoken to Safety Officer Mick Jackson - he felt that the club could not progress with this as this may compromise the general safety and crowd control.
The trust questioned the current capability of the floodlights. What shelf life do they have? Subsequently were there any succession plans to replace them?
Charlie Clapham stated that the current system allows us to play at Conference level only (200 Lux). When pressed on the issue of floodlight lifespan it was suggested that this would be difficult to estimate. The trust offered a ball park figure of 5 years which received no objection. There were no immediate plans to develop the floodlights but any cash windfall such as an FA cup run, would provide such an opportunity.
Trust in Yellow congratulated Southport Football Club on the production of the completed corporate brochure and some of the ideas presented within it. The question posed to the board was in reference to corporate sponsorship and naming rights of the stadium. TIY also advised that whilst many supporters would see sponsorship as progression the club should be
aware of the traditionalists who will object the move.
In terms of the Jack Carr Stand, Trust in Yellow asked whether any sponsorship would retain Jack Carr's name?
Charlie Clapham confirmed that conversations had taken place with a couple of companies with regards sponsorship opportunities such as naming rights of Haig Avenue and also sponsorship of the Grandstand and Jack Carr Stand. These talks remain ongoing.
Monies raised from this would go towards general revenue (further coverage below). The board are aware of traditionalists attitudes and will endeavor to accentuate the benefits of any such move, and that the move would not be forever.
Haydn Preece and Charlie Clapham both categorically stated that Jack Carr's name would remain within any changes to the stand. Haydn with the consent of Jack's wife, plans to educate younger supporters about who Jack Carr was and what he achieved for the football club.
Stopping the losses
Trust in Yellow identified that the general trend in football indicates that football clubs are losing money.
Whilst it was a relief that the football club remained in the black unlike many of its counterparts, were there any plans to prevent the losses?
The trust asked whether the club were prepared to place young prospects who could amass large transfer fees on longer term contracts?
Sam Shrouder stated that it is no secret that the club's accounts have ran at a loss for seven years. If this continues it's financial reserves will completely diminish. The main reason stipulated was spiraling wage demands. Following relegation it was admitted there had been lengthy discussions as to whether to remain full time or revert to part time. Haydn's objective of 2000 gates won't happen overnight and the club acknowledges this. Further the chairman stated that other clubs over-inflated wage bills mean Southport managers have to be skilled and overachieve.
Charlie Clapham announced budgets have been prepared and any monies raised in excess of this budget will be placed into the managers playing budget. On the subject of Carl Baker, Morecambe did not want his fee releasing and such is the protocol in football that this is the prerogative of the buying club. The club have included a sell on clause in the contract and
it was affirmed there is a sell on clause affording Prescott a percentage of the fee.
Many players only want shorter contracts, partially due to the influx in agents, the club also reiterated that players under 24, who are out of contract will have their transfer fee settled by tribunal.
Trust in Yellow thanked the chairman for allowing us the opportunity to utilize the drum - stating it had been well received on the Jack Carr Stand and there had been no safety or trouble resulting from its presence. TIY also stated that the club lacked an anthem, something which gets supporters off their feet as the players take the field. It was requested by the TIY representatives that the trust go away and canvass supporters with a view to finding a common anthem to take forwards.
The club were happy for the trust to do this as both parties feel there was the need for an anthem to inspire supporters.
The trust commented on the improvements in the club shop, further the shop and it's merchandise are better than they have been before. Also the website is more regularly updated. This is reflected by the massive increase in shirt sales.
The question posed by Trust in Yellow was whether the club would have the capacity to develop credit and debit facilities. (A list of advantages were provided to the club)
Haydn Preece stated that the club have taken the policy of acquiring good quality merchandise and the chairman had done an excellent job in negotiating the current Nike kit. Haydn said he had stock provisions of the replica shirt to last up until Christmas. At present the club do not
take any other payment methods, other than cash and cheque. It was agreed there was a need to exploit these facilities by all parties. TIY suggested that they could ballot the membership about the possibility of funding the hand terminals if it would help the suggestion progress. E-commerce and sale of goods via Internet and e-bay will be increased as a result of
this, increasing club revenues.
Reserve Team Football
Trust in Yellow stated that whilst first team football was the financial and logistical priority they were disappointed at the decision not to have reserve team football and asked whether the club could expand upon the decision?
The decision was taken because running costs were £15,000, of which £150 was on floodlights per game and the first team manager didn't want one as this would come out of his budget. The chairman stated that in the past 25 years the general precedence was that the first team manager has little interest in reserve team football. The club sees little return for their
investment. On the PASE team it was suggested that we don't need to have Tranmere and Everton's released players when we can have our own.
In terms of player development, Charlie cited two examples of players who've developed upon leaving the reserve side and have ended up in the football league. Kevin Ellison and Lee Trundle - both of which the management did not consider worthy of first team football at the time.
Crewe were cited as an example of a progressive youth system which didn't entail a reserve team. It was suggested this issue could be discussed at a future meeting due to its' complexity.
Improved Communication with Supporters
The trust stated there are often opportunities where a little more clarity and explanation of objectives may provide supporters with the incentive to become more involved with a project. One example where clarity was required was the wall of fame. Where will this occur?
It was stated that it is likely to be erected in the Grandstand bar.
Charlie Clapham, Sam Shrouder and Haydn Preece all agreed that these meetings should take place at regular intervals. Sam Shrouder commented that Trust in Yellow was a huge asset to the club and the committee should be congratulated for its prudent progression.
The trust conveyed its intention to ballot members regarding Huw Griffiths need for heart monitors.
The chairman questioned if Trust in Yellow could disclose where any finances were likely to be spent in the near future, so the project can be developed with the football club.
Unfortunately due to an imminently re-arranged friendly fixture at Vauxhall not all the agenda could be discussed, however Haydn did advise the issue with the catering facilities was due to the lack of permanent facilities which would be expensive to set up.
In terms of communications from this meeting TIY suggested that they produce a set of minutes to be agreed by both parties and released for general consumption. Trust in Yellow thanked Charlie, Sam and Haydn for a relaxed yet productive meeting.