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Trust Board Public Statement
Trust Board Public Statement

The Supporter's Trust board would like to make the following statement following the Trust AGM held at Bootham Crescent on 23rd February 2012.

1. Club Finance

Under the 2006 Reconstruction agreement between The Trust, JM Packaging and the football club, we are legally entitled to receive certain financial information from the club on a regular basis.

The Trust Board is disappointed that despite repeated requests for monthly management accounts over a long period, the information we have received has been limited. We will continue to make formal requests for the information to which we are entitled.

Based on information we have received, the club's forecast shortfall for the season (before cup runs and transfer fees) is considerably in excess of previous seasons. It is worth noting that the Trust received the budget for the season after the club had already made certain commitments to playing expenditure.

Before the end of the current season, the Trust board will write formally to the football club board to seek assurances that financial information is supplied according to our contractual arrangements going forward. If these assurances are not made or we do not receive the required information, we will seek further legal advice from the Trusts solicitors.

2. Communications between Trust and Club

The Trust met with the Club board shortly after JM Packaging announced they intended to write off the interest on their loan in preference of repayment of the loan capital only. It is important to note that under our agreement JMP were not entitled to receive all of the capital.

The Trust carried out a detailed assessment to determine whether or not JMPs proposal was of benefit to the club and Trust. In short, it was concluded that provided JM Packaging introduced no additional capital, the net sum to be repaid to them would be roughly the same as under our original agreement. This is mainly because JM Packaging had made an additional 450,000 available to the club without the consent of the Trust as is required under our agreements.

At the meeting, the Club board explained that for their offer to be completed it would be necessary for the Trust to approve a deed of variation to change the terms of our original 2006 agreement. We were advised that a draft deed would be provided within a few weeks. Since then the Trust has had little communication with the Club board and no draft has been received.

Upon receipt of any proposed change to our contracts we will consider the implication for the club, Trust and wider community. We will seek legal advice and consider whether or not it will be necessary to seek approval of the full Trust membership.

It is important to note that the Trust was not made aware of JMPs proposal to waive loan interest prior to their public announcement. Their proposal is subject to approval by the Trust board and so we were surprised and disappointed that they made a public statement without any consultation with us. To date, we have not agreed to any part of their proposal, as they have not advised what conditions they wish to attach.

3. Trust seats on the Club Board

According to the 2006 Reconstruction Agreement, the Trust board has the legal right to appoint two representatives to sit on the football club board. Our agreement states that the Club board may not unreasonably refuse these appointments. In December 2010, two well-qualified and experienced individuals were selected from the Trust board to join the Club board and a formal written request was sent to the club chairman.

Following positive meetings between the two individuals and club board members, the Club board refused to approve one of these appointments without giving any reasonable grounds and did not ratify the second appointment.

Despite repeatedly reminding the Club board of their contractual obligations, no further progress was made and the Trust board decided that it would be ineffective and potentially problematic to have just one individual on the Club board, particularly if they were not welcome. The Trust still does not have any representation on the club board.

We firmly believe that supporter representation on the club board is an important feature of a true community football club and that it is wholly unreasonable for the football club board to actively block our legal rights.

At the next Trust board meeting, we will again consider what course of action to take in respect of representation on the club board.

4. The new ground

Currently, the Trust board supports the new stadium development at Monks Cross as the only realistic option available. The proposal by the Conservative group to inject the 4 million earmarked council funding to allow the club to stay at Bootham Crescent is not a viable alternative because once the Football Foundation, former directors of the club, Persimmon Homes and JM Packaging are paid off we believe there would be no funding left to improve the ground.

The total payable to these parties is approximately 4.55 million (Football Foundation : 2.2 million, JM Packaging : 1.6 million, Former directors : 350,000, Persimmon Homes : 400,000). Although we understand that a 2 million Football Foundation grant could be spent on improvements to Bootham Crescent we are not aware of what conditions might be attached.

We believe that to build a brand new, modern and sustainable stadium on the Bootham Crescent site would require additional funding running to several million pounds. The Trust board is open to any realistic proposal to allow the club to remain at Bootham Crescent provided that it can deliver long-term prosperity and security of tenure for the club. Currently, we have not received any such proposal from any party.

The Trust has held several meetings with representatives from the Campaign for York. We share some of their concerns and have been discussing some alternative options relating to the ground. However, at this stage Monks Cross remains the only viable option.

The Trust also held a meeting with Tim Atkins and Councillor Sonia Crisp in the summer of 2011 where they provided some additional information regarding the construction of the new retail park and ground, all of which is now in the public domain. Following the meeting, the Trust made a formal request to the Council that we have a representative on the Council's Stadium Steering Group. The Council declined citing that they believed the football club was being represented on the Group by Jason McGill. We explained that the Trusts interests and those of Mr McGill may not always be the same and that as a democratically elected body with a veto on the sale of Bootham Crescent we should have a voice on the committee. Again, they declined.

5. Finance of the new ground

We are advised by the City of York Council that the development of the new stadium at Monks Cross will cost a total of around 10 million, to be funded by 4 million from the council, 2 million from the sale of Bootham Crescent (mainly via the FF grant coming back to the club), with the balance being met by Oakgate as the enabling developer.

The Trust has not received any further detail relating to the financing of the build, ongoing operations, business plans, ownership, lease terms, timetables or detailed construction plans. From recent statements made by Tim Atkins in the Press we believe this information is not yet available. We will call for a meeting with Mr Atkins in order to review these plans in detail shortly.

6. Club Director profits

On 14/02/2012 Sophie Hicks was quoted in the Press as saying that the club directors would not profit from their involvement in the football club or the sale of Bootham Crescent. The Trust board will endeavour to ensure that this promise is upheld regardless of what happens with the ground.

Should the plans to relocate to Monks Cross progress, we will carry out a detailed audit of all aspects of the sale of Bootham Crescent, financing of the new stadium and terms of any leases and any side agreements with the council / Oakgate or any other 3rd parties.

Some members have expressed concern about the group tax relief that JM Packaging have received via the losses of the club. The Trust has discussed this at length with the clubs financial consultant Pete Rookes and will seek an agreement that this is accounted for when calculating the final payment due to JMP.

7. Summary

As 25% shareholders and guardians of York City Football Club, the Trust board are committed to finding the best way to achieve long-term stability and success for the football club.

Over the past year, we have been working with a number of individuals and groups to address the concerns shared by our members and the wider community. In particular, we have met with representatives of the Campaign for York, City of York Council and York Knights.

Although we firmly believe the Trust should be central to the new stadium debate we have often been sidelined and actively kept in the dark by certain parties. In the coming weeks and months, the Trust board will redouble it's efforts to influence the situation and help steer the club to long-term stability and security. To this end, the Trust will issue a public statement shortly.

8. Finally

At the last AGM the Trust board made a commitment to improve communications with our members. Since then we have launched a new web site and Facebook page where we regularly post significant updates and news. We encourage all members to follow us and visit the web site regularly.

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