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The End is Nigh

York City facing extinction

On the brink of extinction......

York City Football Club is heading towards extinction within the next few weeks unless the Gang of Four is willing to accept a solution. If the deadline set by the Administrators is not pushed back, the match at Bootham Crescent against Swansea City on 18th January could be the last ever game for York City.

As the deadline to save York City Football Club approaches, representatives of the Supporters Trust continue to work behind the scenes to help engineer a solution. Clearly, the way in which the Gang of Four who have claimed to be City supporters - are seeking to force the Club out of Bootham Crescent without an alternative stadium in place, is an absolutely vital issue. This added complexity means that it is not simply a case of someone stepping in with a massive cash injection to save the Club.

Whilst there remains hope that a solution can be negotiated, more people increasingly fear the worst. York City Football Club could lose its Football League status before the end of the season and the Club could disappear altogether.



The directors who have brought the Club to the brink......

The origins of the troubles at Bootham Crescent that came to prominence both in the early part of 2002 and again in November/December 2002 - can clearly be traced back to 1999. That was the year that BCH was formed as part of a corporate restructuring exercise to enable the Club to be secure in its activities. It also coincided with a clear change in the financial management of the Club, whereby, a Club that had previously been run along relatively prudent lines, suddenly began spending well beyond its means.

The Clubs then directors (Craig, Quickfall, Swallow and Webb) who, of course, remain as directors and the majority shareholders of landlord BCH - created an unsustainable wage bill, far in excess of what the Club could afford, such that cash reserves soon dwindled. In fact, the Clubs wages:turnover ratio of 180% in the 2000/01 season is amongst the worst ever in the history of UK football.

Batchelor took over in April 2002 and, sadly, made a bad situation worse. Amongst a variety of damaging actions, Batchelor diverted 400,000 of sponsorship monies away from the Club to his racing team, as well as committing the Club to a variety of inappropriate expenditure.

Separately, the Gang of Four pocketed 350,000 in April 2002 when they sold some of their BCH shares to Persimmon. At the time, Messrs Craig, Swallow and Webb were still directors of the Club aswell as BCH.

Unfortunately, the way in which the Clubs directors have spent money in recent years and sought to benefit themselves financially - has led to the current crisis. Going forward, if the Club can be saved and continues to have a decent stadium to play in, York can have a sustainable Football League club with properly managed finances.



Working to try and save the Club......

During the past couple of months, representatives from the Supporters Trust have been involved in numerous meetings and discussions with various parties who could yet play a key role in helping North Yorkshires only professional Football League club to survive. This has included:

- City of York Council;
- Directors of Bootham Crescent Holdings, the former owner of the Club and the company that continues to have an significant influence on its operations;
- Supporter groups;
- Property developers;
- Planning and legal specialists;
- The Clubs Administrators;
- Local MPs;
- Local businesses; and
- Potential investors.

As revealed last week, the Supporters Trust has been involved with a potential consortium of local businessmen who have been working hard to try and provide a solution. Separately, the Supporters Trust has notified the Administrators that it may submit its own bid. As noted above, any bidder not only needs a significant amount of cash to see the Club through to the end of the current season, but also needs to resolve certain matters in relation to the Club continuing to play at its Bootham Crescent home (at least until a better stadium is in place). There is no easy solution.

The Trust continues to maintain that York City Football Club should continue to play at Bootham Crescent unless a better stadium in the city is in place. The stadium at Bootham Crescent meets the standards required of the Football League and is in an excellent position for such an important local facility. It is near the city centre, has good access by public transport and brings positive benefits to local businesses. If the Club was forced to move to another stadium that was too far away or not suitable for a football club, it will be detrimental to the viability of the Club and damaging to the level of support.



Building Trust between Community and Club......

Since its birth less than one year ago, the Supporters Trust has continued to stress the importance of the Club to the local community and to the status of the City of York. The Trust has consistently pressed to help develop a club that:

- embraces its relationships with the supporters;
- is the at the heart of the community;
- works together with schools and the Council;
- provides leadership on issues like racism and drug abuse; and
- benefits, and benefits from, local business.



Financial support for the Trust......

The Supporters Trust may need significant financial resources within the next few months. The Supporters Trust is very grateful for those people who have already contributed or pledged cash and to those who have organised various fundraising schemes/events over the past 12 months.

The Trust recognises that necessary sizeable contributions may be needed from key parties. As noted above, the ground situation is an added complexity that may impact on the willingness (or otherwise) of parties to make sizeable contributions.

The Trust continues to gratefully receive financial support from people around the World. Anyone wanting to make an immediate cash donation can do so by contacting the Trust c/o Bootham Crescent or via www.ycst.org.uk/donations.htm

Alternatively, anyone who wants to pledge cash can do so by either contacting the Trust direct, or by contacting lifelong City-fan and local businessman John Mingay who has volunteered the services of his company, FIND Business Finance, free of charge to co-ordinate all the pledge offers.

To make a pledge, please call John Mingay at FIND on 08700 111229, email find@figroup.fsnet.co.uk , or send in writing to FIND Business Finance, Rowan House, Northminster Business Park, Northfield Lane, Poppleton, York, YO26 6QU.


Fighting to save the Club......

There are no guarantees that the Club will be saved within the next few weeks. The ground situation and the current stance taken by BCH may force the end of York City Football Club.

The Supporters Trust encourages supporters to attend this Saturdays match against Swansea City to help demonstrate (again) that the community will not allow the football club to simply disappear without a fight.



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