On here we will log questions we have received from fans together with answers which will build up a comprehensive database and a useful reference point.
What is your stance in change of ownership?
The club is on record as stating that it supports a change of ownership if the right purchaser can be found and as a Trust, we took the initiative to contact Mr Shutes. This happened on Wednesday 9th December, prior to the public disclosure on Mr May.
Did the Trust know about the Alex May offer to buy shares?
As previously stated none of the Trust board, except for the two board representatives, knew anything about the proposal from Alex May. Once we became aware, we acted quickly and decisively and formally opposed any involvement. This was subsequently reflected in the vote at the GTFC board meeting which was unanimous. Our two board representatives did have prior knowledge following his recent introduction which highlights the issue of confidentiality and the invidious position it can create for them. Both Jon and Dave accept this should have been handled better and take their share of collective responsibility for that.
Has Mr May already invested in the club?
No, Mr May has not put any money into the club whatsoever. The confusion seems to be around a Companies House report showing an updated Statement of Capital in December 2020. GBP 2,377,900 is the total number of share capital issued and not for that specific allotment. The previous Statement of Capital in September 2020 shows GBP 2,362,400 – so GBP 15,500 shares were issued to fans for the period 24th September 2020 and 11th December 2020.
Do you support John Fenty selling his shares in the club?
John has always been open to selling his shares to anyone who can take the club forward. We are on record as stating that if the right owner(s) can be found then we would support it.
Do the Trust support the potential takeover by Tom Shutes?
There is a lot of detail we don’t yet know but yes, we support anything that will take the club forward. It is worth remembering that any transaction will be a private one and as such doesn’t, at this stage, put any new money into the football club. As a trust we had a number of questions such as any risk to the club should the development fail and also future share of income streams. This sort of thing will be covered in the current discussions and we look forward to a positive outcome. Initial discussions with the consortium have been very positive.
Have you ever looked at fan ownership?
Yes, practicalities of which are very difficult in our view, but we are open to persuasion. Buying John’s shares would also trigger the need to offer all other shareholders the same value, which could mean up to £2m of shares and then on top of that there would need to be an agreement for the repayment of loans £1.5m. The vast majority of fan owned clubs have arisen from clubs in financial trouble, such as being in administration, and do not have a start point of having to buy out existing shareholders. Whenever we have discussed this, we have always dismissed it as been out of reach but happy to revisit if members think differently. As a trust, our preferred model has always been to partner with a small group of investors (say 3 or 4) on an equal basis but finding those people is difficult.
Obviously with the outline agreement now reached with the consortium this is hopefully now just academic.
Do you think it would better to not have representation on the Club board?
The trust has always held the view that it is better to be part of the board but we are open to putting it out to the members. We talk to a lot of other supporter groups and having board representation is the envy of many, giving it up is not a decision to be taken lightly and is not something that can be reversed.
The new owners will have their own view on this and during the takeover process we will be discussing the whole issue of fan engagement and involvement.
How much Director Loans are paid back each year?
There is no fixed amount paid back each year and any repayment is agreed based on affordability. This will usually be as a result of transfer money received or some other form of one-off windfall. In 2013 the loans amounted to £2.0m and then there was some more put in and then taken out over the next few years resulting the balance still being £2.0m in 2017. Following that £450k has been repaid in two instalments, which covered both 2018 and 2019 accounting years. There has been nothing since and none planned.
Are you in favour of repayment of loans?
In principle yes, obviously providing it is affordable. The lower the debt then the healthier the balance sheet and the more attractive it becomes for potential investors.
What happens to the shares that were transferred from the Trust to John Fenty?
In 2012 when 81% of the members agreed to the transfer it was unconditional and so the funds generated from these are at the discretion of JF. At the time the view was the shares did not have any resale value. We will be discussing this when the transaction is complete.
If the new owners have to offer to buy the Trust’s share will you sell?
This will be a matter for the members to decide and it will be put to a vote. This may include an option to sell part but still retain a significant stake in the club.
In the annual accounts it mentions work done by Cool Energy. Was this work properly tendered for?
We have looked into this. This work was for the new heating system in the main stand replacing an old system not fit for purpose. The work was essential given the need for showers, heating and hot water. The cost of works was £85K, with two other quotes obtained, both of which were significantly higher. The work was also subject to grant proceeds of 50% and in addition, the cost was further mitigated by a £25K sponsorship. The process was such that Cool Energy had no indication of other quotes before the decision.
The Club has stated that there is room in the pay cap to support squad strengthening in January, but this seems at odds with previous statements. What is the situation?
The situation as we understand it is that there is some headroom in the salary cap calculation due to the way it treats contacts that were already in place as an average salary rather than actual salary. Now that the Club has some certainly over the Premier League funding it will be a position to support squad strengthening. We suspect it was this uncertainty that was causing the confusion.
What are your plans to improve fan engagement?
It is very early days, but we have had preliminary discussions with the potential new owners about wider fan involvement through things like a Fan’s Parliament. This would involve representation from all parts of the fan base who would meet with the club on a regular basis to share ideas and information.
Ideas are coming in thick and fast from fans and we plan to look at having zoom discussion with fans and developing working groups.
There are some things already underway such as Fan Zone, Junior Supporters Club and a new Membership System.
If we have more questions, how would we communicate them with you?
Whilst we are on social media, it is just impossible to reply to every single social media or message board comment. We will endeavour to respond to questions received by email to firstname.lastname@example.org in a timely manner and update this section accordingly.