Huddersfield Town Survival Trust AGM Report

Huddersfield Town story posted by Phill Rodgerson on 26/06/2003
The Huddersfield Town Survival Trust held their first Annual General Meeting just over 3 months since their inception back in March. Surprise guest for the night was Ken Davy, who is a large part of the consortium looking to takeover Huddersfield Town as well as owner of the Huddersfield Giants Rugby Club. His first port of call was to meet and greet the Town fans waiting for the meeting to start. He managed to get through the pleasantries fairly unscathed, but he was certainly a brave man with some Bondholders in attendance.Huddersfield Town Survival Trust AGM Report

Davy opened the meeting by paying tribute to all the hard work and effort that the Survival Trust had put in during the hard times at the club. He talked very realistically and stated that some hard financial decisions would have to be made in the future and that it may upset some people, but he will always makes sure decisions are made in the best interests of Huddersfield Town. He also said that only sensible wages would be offered in the future and that he would never take any risky ventures again, so as to avoid any reoccurrence of the nightmare post-season we have just experienced. He finished off lastly by saying the academy will have a large role to play in the future of the club, with the hope being that home-grown talent can help the club grow.

He could only take three questions due to time constraints, with him needing to be elsewhere later in the night. But the questions he took were certainly challenging. He said he hoped for a new CEO and manager to be announced next week, following meetings with the PFA at the end of this week regarding players? wages. Of the Survival Trust, he said there wasn?t any scope for involvement on the board due to the number of supporter?s associations who may be interested in the future. He did say that he would look to work closely with all fans, including the Survival Trust, however.

His toughest question, which had no doubt been anticipated all night, was from a vociferous man at the bar. The issue was, of course, the Bond holders. Having paid out a few thousand pounds on a 4-year season ticket, it was understandable that the fan felt aggrieved. Despite the grilling, Davy brushed off the comments and said that he had to draw a line and be realistic. Reading into this, it could simply mean that he can?t show preferential treatment to some creditors just yet, with there still being 28 days for individual creditors to reject the CVA agreement, which would completely throw everything off course. Davy was thanked for his appearance, by interim chairman Robert Pepper, who then proceeded with the meeting.

After introducing the interim board, he handed the microphone over to Marcus Garside (interim treasurer) who took members through the accounting details since March. He reported a net income of ?57,880.64, which includes the ?50,000 which they recently gave to the administrator?s Begbies Traynor, which they hope they may recoup when the club exits administration. It was also voted that Fred Sheard & Sons will be the financial auditors for the Trust.

Robert Pepper then took us through the key dates in the short history of the Survival Trust. The dates clearly outline how far the Survival Trust and the club have managed to come in such a short period of time. The key dates discussed are shown below:
  • March 13 ? Initial contacts
  • March 20 - First meeting
  • March 22 - First bucket collections
  • March 31 ? Players put club into administration
  • April 14 - ?10,000 given to administrators
  • April 17 ? Town Hall meeting
  • May 11 ? Wembley Wizards vs Town AllStars match (approx. ?38,000 raised)
  • May 13 ? Ken Davy and Terry Fisher bid
  • June 16 - ?50,000 to administrators
  • June 18 - CVA approved
It was then Peter Sargent?s turn to speak, and he managed to offer up some interesting information. Firstly, he said it seemed very unlikely at the CVA hearing that the judge would approve of the offer. But a quick note, which had a note about the support of the Survival Trust, from himself passed to the judge may have played a part in persuading his decision, ultimately having saved the club. He also wanted to stress that the money given to the administrators was not for their fees, but was for the running of the club and therefore for the immediate ?survival? of the club. And regarding the Bond Holders he also stated that they should remain patient, hinting that something may be possible after the 28 day period of rejection. He also raised the possibility of reporting the issue to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Simon Binns, a member of Supporters Direct, which currently helps 93 Trusts, also raised a little bit of hope for the Survival Trust taking a seat on the board. Despite Davy?s negative comments, Simon said it was a similar situation at Leicester City until they realised that the ?100,000 investment could be helpful on the board. He said that the Survival Trust clearly had the finance, and that they would need to prove their worth, possibly by investing in the Academy which Davy was keen to do.

Stephen Booth was then introduced as head of the fundraising committee and provided details of some events which they have lined up in the near future. He also stressed the importance of two dates, the 10th of July when the football league need to pass the share into the new company so that, effectively, the new company can join the football league. He also said that the 19th of July was of importance, as this is the end of the 28 day period whereby creditors may reject the CVA?s outcome. He said there?s been no objections so far, and that means that there probably won?t be, but it may well be linked to the Bond holders issue.

In terms of fund raising activities, he said that the Wizards/AllStars match had been hugely successful, with more fans attending than at the Division 3 Play-off matches that weekend. He said they?ve had to remain quiet recently as well, so as to avoid having to pay VAT on the money raised. However, now the money raised is secure and he?s planning to up the amount of fundraising activities.

Firstly, a balloon race is planned, most likely for the opening day of the season. The plan is to let off 1000 balloons which can each be sponsored. The first prize will be a shirt signed by former Town player, Tom Cowan. A second initiative, is a stakeholder scheme in Lee Sinnnot?s Wembley medal. People will be allowed to buy a stake in the medal, which the former Town player donated recently to the trust. Those holding a stake will receive a copy of the medal and will be allowed the see it in the Football Trust Suite in the stadium.

There are also plans for an auction around September or October. He asked that fans contribute any items which they felt could help raise money for the Trust. In terms of plans for Christmas, the aim is to release a memorabilia book, containing 30 of Town?s greatest players post-war. In it, the players will write an article describing their memories of playing with Huddersfield. Christmas cards were also mentioned by Robert Pepper, as well as a suggestion from the floor of having an Academy Calendar which was noted by Stephen Booth. Booth also stressed that it was vital that fans continued to arrange their own activities to raise money for the Trust, such as a cake sale.

Will Venters, founder of the Survival Trust, finished the meeting by stating the 5 key roles that the Survival Trust has played in the club. Firstly, he recounted how Peter Sargent passed the note to the judge, which may have swayed his decision in favour of accepting the CVA, and subsequently keeping the club alive. He also said that they played a vital role in bringing consortia together. Having expressed concerns to the administrators that the individual consortia may not have come to fruition it led the way for them to combine and gain a much more viable position to takeover the club.

The ?60,000 given to the administrators for running costs has also helped with the short-term future of the club, ensuring that they can continue to keep the club going. The charity match was also described as an ?Act of Faith? and also a platform for negotiating with many interested parties being gathered in the same place, providing them with a chance to share ideas. Lastly, he said that the Survival Trust will have a large part to play in this final process, as a ?back up? in case anything does go wrong.

He said that should Huddersfield Town enter administration again that they will be liquidated, and that it was the role of the Survival Trust to prevent that from ever happening. The issue with board representation was also discussed, stating that there are currently 29 clubs with fan representation on the board. However, Will doesn?t believe he would be the man to represent fans on the board.

Finishing the meeting was a ratification of the board. Unanimously the board was ratified by the Survival Trust members.

To finish the evening, the floor was opened up to questions. Those of interest were the possibility of cancelling Davy?s argument of each supporters association wanting representation by combing them all (the Survival Trust, Supporters Club, Patrons, etc.) This was considered as a possibility but the difficulties with selecting one representative was raised. Simon Binns believed that the organisation with the most democratic structure (ie. the Survival Trust) would be in the best position to attempt gaining a seat on the board.

When asked if Davy could actually announce a new manager before July 10, it was said that if the club doesn?t receive the football league share then they will be personally responsible for the contracts. Any contracts signed at this stage will be unregistered, and Davy and co will be personally liable for them.

The second-to-last question of the night was whether pressure could be placed on Kirklee?s and KSDL regarding the stadium. Peter Sargent suggested that individuals write to their local councillor requesting for better organisation of the stadium?s use. He also said it may be possible for Davy, who will have combined 60% ownership (20% from the Giants and 40% from Huddersfield Town) could have a better negotiating position and may be able to lower the rental costs of the stadium.

I felt fairly satisfied that many questions and concerns had been answered by the Survival Trust. The key issues for the future are clearly that the fans receive some kind of representation on the board. Equally, it is vital that Bond holders remain patient for now, and hope that something is offered in the future when the club is in a more stable position.


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