Information from last night’s meeting
For anyone who wasn’t able to make it last night, here is the abridged version of the address given by Dave Tindall and Chris Blackburn. We also handed out a brief document explaining our investment: fan_ownership_FAQs.
Thank you all for coming this evening at what is an exciting time for Chorley Football Club and Chorley FC Supporters Trust. I am sure by now everyone will have seen the announcement that the trust has made an investment in Chorley Football Club.
So how did this come about?
We as a trust have had a growing relationship with the club, back to the days when Ryan Modlin was chair of the trust. We have always pushed for a greater fan voice within the club and ultimately, full representation on the board. Since before Ken and Graham took over the shares from Trevor Hemmings, we have been in positive and increasing frequent dialogue about how the trust could get more involved with the club and how we could work in partnership across a range of issues.
Last year we started this process with a Social Committee, working with the club directors to co-ordinate events to maximise the benefits for both club and trust. The discussions with the club (both formal and informal in nature) increased throughout the early months of this season.
In November, the Trust received a letter outlining a proposal for the trust to purchase shares in the football club and to potentially take one seat on the football club board. We agreed to a meeting between the club and the trust to explore things further which was held on New Years Eve, the day before the FC United home match where we reached an agreement in principle to progress further.
The club were completely open and transparent about the club, its plans for the future, challenges, financial position and showed a real willingness to work more closely with us. They were also open to the possibility of increasing the number of directors to two and working in partnership on a number of initiatives that would benefit both the football club and the Trust.
We discussed the proposal as a trust board and decided to make an initial investment of half the fan ownership fund, with the second half released at the end of January. Since the investment we have been working with Richard Clithero, the Club’s solicitor, to conclude all of the legal agreements that need to be put in place. This is a formal process and whilst paperwork is still being prepared the two of us have passed the FA ‘Fit and Proper Persons’ test.
We have been invited to formal and informal board meetings and have been involved in detailed discussions involving the day to day running of the club. This has included plans for next season, including Season Ticket pricing. You will also see our names in the programme under ‘Board of Directors’ on page 2 of the programme and on the website. We are also likely to also become directors of Chorley Sporting Club, as well as Chorley Football Club.
Throughout the process we have received large amounts of advice from Supporters Direct, in particular James Mathie and Nicola Hudson, and continue to do so. We are planning a face to face meeting between Supporters Direct, Graham, Ken and the Trust Board next week where we’ll be exploring the options we have in relation to the structure of the club. This will in time lead to the opportunity for a community share offering for the supporters to buy a stake in our club, but we need to get the right legal structures in place first
But what does this mean in practice? Chorley FC Supporters Trust now owns just over 5% of Chorley Football Club with options to increase this to 10%. Yes, it’s a small stake but with two directors on the club board, it gives us a real say in the direction of the club on and off the pitch.
We feel this aligns perfectly with the Aims and Objectives of the trust, seeking fan ownership of Chorley Football Club and with the team flying on the pitch, now is the time to do it. As Supporter Directors and representatives of the trust we want to be as accessible as possible, and we hope to visible on matchdays home and away. We are also consulting with Supporter Directors at other clubs on how they consult with their fan base.
The other fair question is why did we invest when we did?
We don’t feel we are breaking any confidences by saying the club had some short-term cash flow issues and by investing in the shares; this assisted the club to meet its commitments. There wasn’t time within our constitution to call a member meeting to discuss and vote on the issue, but we felt as a Trust Board this was an opportunity to acquire a stake in the football club at a substantially discounted price and to give us a real influence in shaping the future direction of the club.
We must realise though that Chorley Football Club has not just got 2 supporters on the board. It has 6 and the work of Ken, Graham, Simon Denham and Glen Hutchinson should not be underestimated. Also the amazing work of Josh Vosper, the media team, bar staff, support teams and huge range of volunteers that keep the club going and thriving.
As we speak, we have 15 games to go with a serious challenge from Stockport County and others. We will do everything we can to get this club promoted, ideally as champions or alternatively through the play offs.
So our message to you as trust members and fans is simple. If you are fan who is not a member of the trust, join and help us. If you are a trust member, we need your help more than ever so think about what you could do. Organise an event, give a couple of hours of your time or even, join the board?
We are more than happy to throw the floor open to questions and we will do our best to answer any of them.
Thank you for your time