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Batchelor Gives Off Positive Vibes

"Trust me and focus on a positive future" was the one of the main messages from York City Chairman John Batchelor when he met with fan representatives prior to the game with Carlisle United

Batchelor has only been in charge at the Club for sixteen working days and he gave reassurances that the new York City would break from the past and properly engage fans and community in its future operations. The meeting with Supporters' Trust representatives was the first in a series of meetings aimed at clarifying various 'uncertainties' surrounding the Club and establishing positive ways in which the fans and the community can contribute to helping the Club in the future.

Sophie McGill, spokesperson for the Supporters' Trust commented on the outcome of the meeting:
"Whilst we recognise that John has only been Chairman for a few weeks, we have been rather frustrated and concerned regarding various matters. The Supporters' Trust has the best interests of the Club, the fans and the community at our heart. Having heard what John had to say, the general mood of those who attended was positive. We look forward to being actively involved in practical ways at helping the Club to improve its relationships with the fans and the community."

The twelve fans met Batchelor at Bootham Crescent for an hour before the Carlisle United game. The Supporters' Trust had invited any appropriate members of the Club's Board to the meeting. Only Batchelor attended on behalf of the Club. The meeting covered various topics including the ownership of the Club, the transition period, the ownership of Bootham Crescent, the agreement with Persimmon Homes, directors of the Club and operations of the Club. Unfortunately the meeting was curtailed, but the fan representatives are set to meet again next week with Batchelor to pick up on various areas not yet covered and agree some practical ways to work with the Club.

Having agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Batchelor in February and having had various assurances since that time, Supporters' Trust representatives had been concerned at certain aspects relating to the 'transition period' and other developments since the announcement on 15 March that Batchelor had been appointed Chairman of the Club.

Batchelor gave clear assurances that the "fresh approach" by the Club is up and running and is being lead by himself, the 100% owner of the Club. He said that "the other Club directors only remain on the basis of being available for consultation on certain operational matters should the need arise". He did acknowledge that massive improvements can be made to the Club in terms of income generation and the way in which it manages its relationships with supporters and the community. As part of this fresh approach, a re-branding exercise is well underway.

The four 'old' directors of the Club (Messrs Craig, Easby, Swallow and Webb) will remain as directors for the 'transition period'. Whilst last month representatives of the Supporters' Trust were initially lead to believe that this would be a period of a matter of weeks, it is now understood that the period will last until certain planning matters have been achieved in relation to the Bootham Crescent site and a new stadium for the Club. This would normally be expected to be at least six months. The necessity of a new stadium for the future viability of the Club was reiterated and Batchelor demonstrated to the group that his plans for the new stadium and associated developments are actively progressing. Further discussions will be held in relation to Batchelor's plans for the development and funding of a new stadium.

Batchelor clarified that the recently announced sponsorship deal with Persimmon Homes has no conditions attaching to the current or future ownership of the Bootham Crescent site. The deal is a joint sponsorship package for the Club and Batchelor's racing team. No announcement has been made by Bootham Crescent Holdings or the Club that the ownership of Bootham Crescent has changed from Bootham Crescent Holdings plc. No announcement has been made that the lease terms between Bootham Crescent Holdings plc and the Club for the use of the football ground have changed. Batchelor gave assurances that the Club will continue to play its home matches at Bootham Crescent until a new stadium is built.

Commenting on the 'transition period', Sophie McGill said:
"In many respects, a cleaner break from the past would have been more desirable. Next week, we hope to make some more progress with John about how the fans and community can be involved in practical ways to help the Club in the immediate future. We are not prepared to simply stand by and watch what happens for the next twelve months. John promised that the fans and the community would be properly engaged; he has acknowledged that we have much to offer; now we want some substance to his words."

The immediate appointment of Supporters' Trust representatives as directors of the Club is "an issue" for the Club during the 'transition period'. The Supporters' Trust has not yet received a written request from the Board of Directors of the Club to put forward two representatives who will then be appointed as Directors of the Club. However, the appointment of representatives of the fans and the community to the Club's Board remains an intention for both Batchelor and the Supporters' Trust and further discussions will be held to facilitate a satisfactory solution for all parties.

Steve Ovenden expressed satisfaction at the generally positive outcome of the meeting:
"It was good for us to clarify various matters. The Supporters' Trust is here to represent the fans and the community and to help John build a better future for the Club. There are still some areas of uncertainty that we will seek to clarify in due course. However, everyone should focus on helping to create a positive future."

 
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