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Trust and Club Working Together

The new season is not far away and John Batchelor and the Club have been much in the news. The Supporters' Trust is looking forward to the new season and the real "fresh start" that the new regime promises - both on and off the pitch

Supporters' Trust members (the new elected board and others as well) have been working hard over recent weeks to develop the role of the Trust with the Club and within the community. Plans are being made to get more members involved to help make an even bigger impact "building trust between Community and Club".

Expect to see a few announcements over the next few days and weeks.

Meanwhile, in response to queries raised by a few people (at the Harrogate Minstermen meeting and on the web forums), we thought it would be useful to summarise our understanding of the position in relation to certain matters surrounding the ownership and operation of the Club. We have communicated this information previously via press releases (particularly those dated 11 April and 19 April - please refer to the Trust's website), newsletters and at the recent AGM. However, we hope you find this summary of interest.

The Trust's website continues to be available for latest information and we respond to every question and comment received via enquiries@ycst.org.uk. Please contact us if you have any questions or there is something in particular you feel the Trust should be doing.

THE TRUST'S BACKING FOR JOHN BATCHELOR

On 19 February the Trust announced it would work with John Batchelor to Save City.

The Trust had an agreement with John that included:

- A shared vision of a stronger York City that embraces its relationship with the fans and the community;

- Protections for the fans and the community to buy back the club and the ground should John Batchelor decide to sell-out;

- The Trust to be consulted regarding significant new developments that John claimed would make York City "an unusual club";

- The Trust to take ownership of 25.1% of the shares in the Club and whatever entity owns the ground;

- The supporters to have at least two representatives on the Board of Directors.


On Friday 15 March it was announced that John Batchelor had been appointed Chairman of York City Football Club. Subsequently, he confirmed that he had become the 100% owner of the Club.

The previous owners of the Club had been Bootham Crescent Holdings plc ("BCH") - a separate legal entity. It appears that BCH still owns Bootham Crescent. The future ownership of Bootham Crescent is unclear, but John Batchelor and the Club have clearly stated their intention to develop a new stadium for York City.

John has certainly created plenty of headlines for York City locally and nationally over the past few months. In many ways we welcome this fresh approach.

However, some Trust representatives have been frustrated and concerned about a number of aspects since March (just as other fellow fans have been frustrated and concerned) - including:

- The continuing role of the 'old' directors during the so-called transition period;

- Unfulfilled promises regarding the Trust's share ownership and director appointments;

- The nature of the agreement with Persimmon Homes;

- The current and future ownership of Bootham Crescent.


The agreement between John Batchelor and Bootham Crescent Holdings regarding the acquisition of the Club and the ground situation has been shrouded in secrecy. We understand that a confidentiality agreement between the two parties has prevented disclosure of various information. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency and openness can breed rumour and concern.

OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE 'TRANSITION PERIOD'

During the so-called 'transition period', the 'old' directors (Craig, Swallow, Webb and Easby) will remain on the board of the Club. Three of these individuals also happen to be directors of, and shareholders in, BCH.

Whilst at first we were led to believe the transition period would only last a few weeks, it now appears that it will last until certain planning matters have been achieved in relation to Bootham Crescent. This is expected to be several months.

We have been informed that the 'old' directors only remain on the Club's board on the basis of being available for consultation on certain operational matters should the need arise.

OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE GROUND SITUATION

Bootham Crescent continues to be owned by BCH. The Club has use of Bootham Crescent under an agreement with BCH.

A planning application for a new stadium in the City will be submitted in parallel with planning for the development of the Bootham Crescent site.

We have received strong assurances from John that the Club will not be left homeless in the future.

TRUST REPRESENTATIVES AS DIRECTORS OF THE CLUB AND SHARE OWNERSHIP

Under the original agreement with John, the Trust was to take ownership of 25.1% of the shares in the Club and whatever entity owns the ground. In addition, at least two representatives of the Trust were to be appointed as directors of the Club, representing the fans and the community on the Board.

As yet, the Trust has no share ownership and there are no fan or community representatives on the Board.

We have been informed that whilst share ownership may be achievable in the short term, the appointment of directors is "an issue" during the transition period.

Whilst the 'old' directors remain, it is doubtful that any representatives of the fans and the community will be allowed to be appointed as directors.

However, we have continued to receive assurances from John Batchelor that he will deliver on his initial promises as soon as possible.

BUILDING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TRUST AND THE CLUB

Whilst we are disappointed that we've not yet got share ownership and director appointments, we have been getting on developing a working relationship with the Club.

Trust members have been meeting with John and other club representatives on a regular basis. The next of these is on Monday 8 July.

In part these meetings have been to try and get answers to the questions that concern us regarding the transition period and the ground situation and so on.

We're also looking to work with the Club on a number of supporter and community initiatives.

The fans want a successful York City Football Club. A club that the city can be proud of. The Trust will continue to work positively to help the Club deliver success.


THE NEW YORK CITY

We reiterate here one of the messages from the AGM.

Many people have told us how impressed they have been with the City fans over recent months. To help deliver a stronger York City we need that positive spirit to be maintained amongst us. We also need that positive spirit to spread to more people in the community.

Please continue to support the Trust and support York City.

 
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