Hi everyone, another weekend, another win, and busy week for the Trust ahead with AGM and FIFA nights.
The Trust Chair Chris Parker recently answered a few questions for the Scunthorpe programme (some of you may have seen this interview in the programme for the Glanford Park replay). It is an interesting read to summarise where we are at, what we’ve achieved and future aims, so please read and encourage all Town fans to read this too.
How many members does the Mariners Trust have, and has this increased since you gained a larger role in the club?
Membership currently stands around 800 which is quite a jump from the 140 members we had 2 years ago. One problem we have with having gained seats on the main board is that some feel it is ‘job done’ and they don’t need to join. Nothing could be further from the truth and we are about to commence on another major recruitment drive. It is vital to the success of the Trust, and the influence we can have, for the numbers to continue to steadily increase.
What role do you now have in the club? Do you influence decision making, and what happens to the revenue raised in the bars you run?
The two Mariners Trust members who now sit on the main board with the other two directors are ‘full’ board members and nothing is ‘out of bounds’ to them. They have access to all the information and although some things are not for public discussion, or even to be shared with other Trust board members, it has really opened up a dialogue not previously enjoyed. I personally have always held the view that the only way you can influence the future is by having a seat (or seats) at the top table as it is very difficult, if not impossible to have influence from the car park!
The Trust is challenged to raise around £30k per annum from a variety of sources. We asked the club to identify specific expenditure that we could assist with as we wish to use the ‘hand over’ of money to further generate interest and membership.
Now that your are among the club’s major shareholders, has your expenditure changed? Is there an aim to buy more shares, or put money into the club’s day-to-day running?
Our current holding is around 13% of the issued shareholding although some Trust members, including myself, are share holders in our own right. There are no current plans to increase that position. As mentioned above our aim is to help the club financially to the tune of around £30,000 per annum although we wish this to be used for clearly identified expenditure rather than just ‘day to day running costs.
Is GTFC still making a loss, and how does the Trust see the club’s financial situation?
The club’s accounts for the year ending 31st May have recently been published and show a significant loss. This is partly masked by timing issues as the cash received from the sale of players was received in the last financial period but basically spent in the next. Nevertheless the club remain reliant upon the clubs major shareholder to produce a competitive budget. Finances are of concern and play a daily part in discussions. GTFC need to get back into the Football League.That alone would bring in an estimated additional income of £750,000 per annum and allow us a chance of getting back to having a sustainable and balanced budget. In the meantime it is a case of continuing to review ways in which costs can be reduced and to increase income.
How has the appointment of two Trust members to the GTFC board worked out? Has there been any conflict of interests, and how was the decision made to appoint two?
So far the appointments have worked out well with increasing influence. By way of example the Trust recently held a supporters workshop were fans were actively encouraged to give details of what areas they wished to see improved. The resultant list was taken to last weeks board meeting, discussed, and a detailed response is being outlined. The only area of ‘conflict’ was when the Directors were dealing with the issues which had arisen with the former joint manager Rob Scott. The fans and Trust members wanted to know what was going on, understandably so, but there were laid down procedures that the club had to follow. Not ideal and a bit of a baptism of fire but, in my opinion at least, perfectly understandable. The club asked us to but forward two representatives for them to chose as it was important that the existing board felt they could work with the individual concerned. It is testament to both candidates that they could not be split and the board of GTFC wanted to appoint both. They are both experienced professional people and have undoubtedly further strengthened the board.
Finally, where do you see the Mariners Trust’s role in GTFC growing over the coming years? Could the Trust eventually become a majority shareholder?
Hopefully a growing role as we are very committed to developing the influence the fans have in the running of their football club. That will only happen if the fans prove they want it. They can do that by joining and helping drive the Trust forward. Although i would never say never I am in the group that favour a constitution along the lines of which Swansea operate. They have significant fan ownership but alongside of which are wealthy businessmen. They have developed a real community based club and personally it is that which i feel we should aspire to.
If there are any questions/comments arising out of this interview, why not come along to the Trust AGM tonight ()