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A note from the Managing Director

6th October 2021

I was pleased to be provided with an opportunity to speak at the recent York City Supporters’ Trust meeting as although I understood the ultimate outcome had effectively been pre-determined by the utilisation of votes cast before any discussions were held it was certainly beneficial from my perspective to hear and provide detailed knowledgeable answers to the numerous questions raised.

In particular the post-meeting opportunities to discuss aspects relating to York City Football Club close to individual supporters’ hearts in a convivial manner was incredibly helpful and I readily accept that, on reflection, fans genuinely believe the Club communications have not been effective.

Despite engaging three people in Sales, Marketing and Media relations for a lengthy time, which has been a considerable financial commitment for a Club in National League North, the message was loud, clear and definitely received.

My overall conclusion has reinforced a personal determination than in addition to striving towards a sustainable financial future for the Club wherever possible the communication issue arguably requires radical and innovative thinking if this is to be successful and not simply provide perceived short-term benefits.

In this respect I was particularly indebted to Ian Savage for explaining his reasoning behind the Resolution although his subsequent offer to conditionally withdraw this necessitates revisiting the underlying reasons why we apparently have such an uneasy relationship between individuals who have an undoubted common cause in supporting a Football Club with which we all identify.

I am confident the vast majority of YCFC supporters are agreed Douglas Craig, as a former Chairman, regrettably broke the underlying imbedded trust with Fans when he and his Board of Directors, from whom I would unequivocally exclude John Quickfall as he subsequently demonstrated commendable honour and integrity, legally enabled the Ground at Bootham Crescent to be extracted from an overall Club structure.

This mechanism enabled Craig and others to personally benefit substantially and their involvement of John Batchelor, who was often referred to as the “fall guy”, within their scheme nevertheless provided him with a personal financial benefit of approximately £500,000 that inevitably led to the Club’s financial crisis during 2003.

A Supporters’ Trust rallied magnificently to the huge challenge and we all, no doubt, have memories of throwing coins and notes into buckets hoping that the strenuous efforts of this willing band of volunteers would be successful in their attempts to preserve football in this City.

Thankfully they succeeded initially as City arguably won probably their single largest challenge during the last 80 years although the Club suffered Relegation from the Football League to the Football Conference which inevitably had a serious impact on finances.

Club records indicate that by 30 June 2006 with a loss during the financial year of £359,372 there was an overall “Insolvency position” of £691,309 which in current values is approximately £1,078,000.

With Directors of the Club potentially liable for the deficiency if it was proven they were trading “recklessly” or with little hope of recovering the adversity a possibility of Liquidation for the Football Club was inevitably a very real fear.

Despite the desperate financial position, including an obligation to make good substantial losses incurred, Jason McGill offered to acquire 75% of the Shares which was approved by York City Supporters’ Trust with Completion occurring on 21 February 2007.

Accordingly, by agreeing to effectively absorb the considerable deficit made by the Supporters’ Trust during their tenure as Owners together with providing necessary financial assistance for the next 5 years it was envisaged the Club would then be able to play at a new Stadium in the City.

Let us be of no doubt whatsoever that the Shares of York City Football Club at the time of this absolutely necessary transfer and undoubtedly welcome financial intervention, which was endorsed by a substantial majority of Supporters’ Trust Members, were clearly valueless and effectively transferred substantial debt of over £1 million in today’s terms to Mr McGill.

With the subsequently 15-year history being relatively well documented this leads us forward to the current day.

The Football Club is now in possession of a Community Stadium to be proud of with the venue underpinned for the next 99 years and although the transition from Bootham Crescent has been challenging in the extreme the Board of Directors have to look forward, and not be caught in a 2006 time-warp, whereby 2022 is the year where real progress in all respects replaces past anticipations.

With a view to addressing the questions posed by my recent involvement in broad discussions with fans relating to such a myriad of differing subjects the Board of Directors have decided that a “root and branch” approach is required in order to provide a longer-term beneficial impact.

It is therefore crucially important to identify as many aspects relating to fan involvement and communications as possible and we would welcome participation from all fans whether season ticket holders, those with occasional attendance at games and those with a genuine desire or intention for the Club to succeed and prosper during future years,

I appreciate there may inevitably be a hopefully small degree of scepticism to this genuine initiative which I sincerely hope is dispelled by also suggesting that an independent Chair is appointed to lead a “York City FC Supporters Advisory Group” who would meet and collate their varying views and thoughts.

Director of the Club would be available to attend these meetings if considered appropriate although ultimately the Chair, and any Committee they may consider is beneficial, will be able to discuss the outcome with Directors to determine how each suggestion may, if possible, be accommodated.

I sincerely hope this is seen as a “blank sheet of paper” to potential fan engagement from the Club’s perspective in relation to how the Group would conduct their affairs.

In conclusion I would sincerely welcome potential “Chairs” and Supporters to register their interest within the relevant pages of the YCFC website that I have asked Dan Simmonite as Media Officer to construct.

Although the initial phase to implement a suitable body of fans may perhaps understandably take time to assemble, I am anxious to ensure the Group is up and running within a relative short period to facilitate a hopefully constructive approach in respect of future communications.

Steven Kilmartin

21 September 2021

 

Please click here to find out more about the York City Football Club Supporters Advisory Group (SAG).

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