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CLUB STATEMENT - 1st April 2016

1 April 2016

All Members, Newport County AFC Supporters Trust                         To:

 

Board of Directors – Newport County AFC                   From:

 

April 2016st 1                    Date:

 

Club Statement               Subject:

 

 

 

 

The Club has received a number of questions which are relayed verbatim and answered below.

 

In answering these it appears prudent to again explain the transparency approach which we have consistently relayed. At our heart is Transparency and that means our starting point is we will be open and transparent about everything we can subject to:

        ·Legality – We obviously have to work within the law

        ·Contractually – We need to operate in line with agreed contracts

        ·Commercially – We need to be cognisant of sensitive information

        ·Reputational – Where sharing information may well be detrimental to the club’s reputation

 

We will continue to apply these principles in the best interest of the club.

 

That is, in the main the monthly communications to Trust Members. We welcome questions to be sent to us and will happily respond through the monthly communication.  Whilst it is appreciated there is at times a craving for information, that needs to be handled and controlled in an appropriate manner. In addition, it seems appropriate to manage the expectation of fans around timing and frequency of communications.

 

It is imperative this is maintained and information is handled with the care and attention it deserves.  We are a Football League Club and need to act in a professional manner – communication is at the heart of that. In addition to the above where there is a need to communicate the club will do so through its Head of Communication.  Club Officials with the Board have worked hard to channel all communication through the official channels for obvious reasons.

 

1. How is it possible for the Board of Directors to make decisions on behalf of us fans/owners when two of them are not even elected by fans to the Board of the trust?

Provided below are some of the questions that have been asked by fans, individually and collectively given the lack of meetings in recent months:

 

of June 2015.th of August 2015 state that these individuals were co-opted on to list of Trustees on the 24st The accounts of our Supporters Trust for the reporting period to the 31  Three individuals agreed to do this and contributed to the successful takeover.  A number of people were asked to join the Trust to assist with the “fans takeover” of the club. A: A rather long winded answer to this I’m afraid. The elected Trust members sitting on the club board then appointed the two Directors to club board and the two agreed to continue having been appointed by the previous owner. The main thrust to this being the stability of the club. Advice on the legitimacy of this approach was taken from Supporters Direct.

 

As we have consistently relayed the interim Board will be in situ until such time as the elections are completed. The timetable of which has been shared with members. The majority of fans are questioning the need for a full time shop manager and full time ticket office manager- could this not be a combined post and use volunteers during busy times.  On the face of it, it seems that we have appointed one new person and all others remain the same. 2. Will the outcome of the administrative review that the Board agreed following Jason Turner's departure be shared with the club owners?

A: The outcome of the review has already been shared in our March Communication and as indicated in the three pillars all elements were looked at.

 

Other elements such as security, duty of care, resource planning and other duties were also factored. Drawing all these elements together suggest there is a need for both positions. Addressing the second part of the question and as covered in the review cost is one consideration.

 

As always, all expenditure of the club will be kept under review and the restructuring process, following the departure of the CEO, has reduced our overall cost in non-core staff costs.

3. Was the job created from the admin review of Chief operating officer advertised and a fair recruitment process followed?

 

This position blends with the Club Secretary and the First Manager reporting into the Board.   Therefore no recruitment was needed as there was not a position to fill.  Given where the club is on its journey there is a need for a Chief Operating Officer and not a CEO. A: The position already existed in the club structure working for the CEO. What the review has done is distribute the responsibilities in a clearer manner.

 

The Finance Officer will have a key role in ensuring we continue to keep the accounts up to date whilst also closely controlling costs  For this position we had 10 applicants, of which we interviewed five of the applicants before making an appointment.  This recruitment process was followed for the appointment of the new Finance Officer. We are committed to advertising all new, full time positions at the club..


4. Did Grant Kalahar resign ? If so why has the club placed him on gardening leave with immediate effect , this is usually reserved for people who are under investigation or where a mutual agreement has not been reached. Are the rumours on the messageboard reguarding bullying at the academy true ?


Gardening leave as a tool is used in a variety of ways and in this instance and as relayed in our March communication given the timing and planning for next season it made sense for Grant to step back from the programme. A: The academy manager did indeed resign.

 

It is not appropriate for the club to comment on rumours.

5. When will the season ticket and hospitality packages for next season be announced? Will we be doing cut priced deals to increase numbers and gain the money upfront.

 

This is now moving into a consultation process with around 100 season ticket holders being contacted. This will also be extended to box holders and 100 club members.  This engagement commenced this week. A: There has been a number of discussions ongoing with club officials and Directors for a few weeks.

 

The intention is to reach a competitive balance between price and cost.

 

These will be released before the end of April.6. Has there been a discussion with RP over obtaining a % of beer and food sales for next season ?

 

Whilst we have not yet had a formal response from our last discussions it looks unlikely the position will change. A: There has been and continues to be dialogue between both parties. The discussion over beer sales has featured and a proposal suggested.7. In your recent newsletter you stated that Mark Crook had continued to sponsor for next season despite not having the option to continue with his current shirt sponsorship- can you please say how he is continuing to do this ?

 

We also relayed HHF “were happy to support elsewhere ….” As this is a Commercial discussion we are unable to share but rest assured it is being handled. A: For the avoidance of doubt we named HHF in our communication.8. Many fans witnessed an altercation in the club shop on Tuesday between a fan and the shop manager, is this being investigated? Some fans reported that the Chairman was also seen to be arguing with a fan.

 

A: This was an operational issue that the COO has investigated and spoken to all concerned resolving in a sensible manner.

 

The matter is now considered closed.9. Ticket office queues are an issue, could there be an incentive for fans to purchase tickets early on a match day, not all fans will know until the day of the game if they can go, so could the discounted rate for purchasing in the week before extended and match day prices kick in say 2 hours before kick off

 

In addition the “app” will soon be launched and this will have a facility on it to purchase match day tickets. A: Thank you. This suggestion will be considered as part of the ticket for next season.10. Do the Directors have plans, 1) to have an end of season awards ceremony that is not last minute disorganised chaos of recent seasons, 2) thank the volunteers who give their time, effort and commitment to supporting the operation (we note that recently the Directors thanked supporters groups by providing tickets to the league cup final and this is to be applauded but something needs to be done for the volunteer base)

 

We are grateful that they have agreed to do this. More details to be released soon. A: The club has asked the supporters club to organise the end of season presentation event.

 

On the volunteers the commitment is very much appreciated and when the supporters’ first gained ownership all volunteers were given a letter thanking them for their assistance.

 

In terms of the future the intention is to include them in the end of season presentation and the Directors are exploring another option that will be communicated direct to volunteers over the coming weeks.11. Is it true Dean Holsworth was happy to invest in the club both prior to and subsequent to the trust takeover? It is the fans understanding that the trust board members met on at least two occasions with Dean and yet his integrity was questioned regarding just ability to finance the deal and what was required in return. Why was this refused or not put to the fans to decide? We are hearing rumours that the Board are in discussions with a consortium

 

The discussions with Dean were very much on that basis.  In addition the money needed to acquire the club was required to be raised in a very short space of time.  Whilst companies could acquire shares there was an upper limit of £100K. They would also not have any more control than anyone other shareholder.  This strategy was based very much on the supporters direct model.  That is what we shared in both the open meeting and the share offer launch. A: There is a context here that needs to be understood and that is when the Trust were looking to gain ownership it was very much on the basis that it was owned by the supporters.

 

It is disappointing that “fans” would suggest that anyone’s integrity was called into question.

 

Any change to the model would need to be agreed by the members as outlined in the Trust constitution. There are no discussions with a consortium.

 

12. When will the managerial arrangements for next season be confirmed ?

 

A: They are already confirmed, given the respective contracts don’t end until next season.13. Supporters Direct stated that volunteers are vital to the running of a successful fans owned club. Why are we not following this? It seems that a view has been taken to try and reduce the volunteer based with many volunteers unhappy with the current setup . Why do directors not have dedicated match day duties as other fans owned clubs directors do ? For example, surely it only takes one director to host other teams directors and this would 1) save money and 2) show fans solidarity and not create a 'them and us ' culture

There have been and will continue to be improvements. For instance, those that volunteer in the ticket office have been asked to stay until the start of the game, as there is still a need.  There are the same numbers involved today as there were are the start of the season so it is not clear where this view is generated from. A: The club is following this approach and agrees that volunteers play a key part.

 

There needs to be a structure to ensure that all volunteers are treated equally, that is clearly not the case today. Whilst volunteers are an integral part of the club, the terms cannot be those of the volunteers.

 

The intention is therefore to review this, so all volunteers are treated equally and receive the same benefits as others, and further, commensurate to what they are giving to the club.

 

The Directors do have dedicated responsibilities on the day of home matches which range from hosting of away Directors (critical part of a professional football club) undertaking media duties, (duty Director) point of escalation for any operational issues, meetings with sponsors and stakeholders.

 

14. When will the next open supporters meeting be with the Directors? Supporters Groups have stated that their last scheduled partnership meeting with the Board of Directors was cancelled at minimal notice .

 

April and groups have been invited.thA: There is a meeting that will be Chaired by the President on 14

 

 

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