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Response from Jim Rushe regarding the open letter from fans
- Parent Category: 1874 Trust
- Written by Margaret Nixon
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Mr Rushe provided a verbal response to the open letter from fans at a meeting of interested parties on 8th May 2012. Rather than provide a written response, Mr Rushe has agreed to the notes from the meeting being published as his response to the concerns of the fanbase.
The notes are provided below.
Future of Northwich Victoria FC
Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 8 May 2012 Venue: Wincham Community Centre 7.30pm
Present Derek Nuttall (President NVFC), Jim Rushe (Chairman NVFC), Dave Thomas (Secretary NVFC), Wayne Porter (NVFC), Dave Stone (former Chairman NVFC), Jim Rafferty (former Finance Director NVFC), Paul Stockton (Chairman NVST), John Coates (Treasurer NVST), James Wood (Board member NVST), Rob Millington (Chairman NVJFC), Ray Small (Treasurer NVJFC), Dave Smith (Head Coach NVJFC), Frank Burgess (Supporter), Mark Holman (Supporter), Mike Isherwood (Supporter), Mike Whitehead (Supporter), Chris Appleton (Supporter), Vicki England (Supporter & note taker).
Opening remarks from the President
Derek opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending and set ground rules for the evening. He explained the reasons for calling the group together, that it was to serve as a forum for open discussion with the aim of seeking how all interested parties could work together to secure the future of NVFC. Derek asked everyone to introduce themselves and give their position and history supporting NVFC.
Where are we now?
Derek invited Jim Rushe to outline the present situation at the club.
Jim explained that care has to be taken when commenting in public, as discussions are subject to legal argument. The Club has been charged with ‘failing to pay the CVA’ and a threat has been issued by the Administrator to wind it up. The club has also been demoted one step by the FA. Jim outlined in detail, events surrounding the CVA.
* Jim decided to carry on supporting the club after Nick Bone left.
* During the period of the administration, Jim was legally able to claim the money he covered as ‘trading losses’. Jim agreed that this amount would be paid against the Club’s debts, by way of a ‘pre pack admin’.
* The club came out of administration. £197k was earned from the cup run – Charlton & Lincoln were paid direct by FA then £168k was sent by the FA to Marshman Price as ring fenced money, with specific instruction to cover the CVA; £18k was paid direct to ‘new co.’ as a bond to cover HMRC issues; £10k covered purchase of club.
* Jim instructed the Administrator to drip feed money to CVA.
* Previous Administrators fees were agreed and paid.
Jim’s opinion is that the Club has not failed the CVA, as clear instructions were in place and there were enough funds to cover it in its entirety, meaning that creditors would have been paid. His view was that the club should not have been relegated. The Administrator has issued a threat to wind the club up, however Jim did not think that Gary Petit will go ahead with the action. If it does subsequently go to Court and the Club loses, then Jim said he would pay the CVA. However he does not expect that will happen and he believes that it could be settled out of court and the CVA will be squashed. Jim advised that the Club is currently around £20k in debt but felt it was in good shape.
Andy Mutch has been appointed as Manager, with Alan Wright assisting. The wage structure has been set for season 2012/13 at around the current level and is not dependant on number of spectators.
Whilst a ground share agreement had been set up with Stafford Rangers, Jim was currently in talks with Warrington Town FC and Warrington BC about the possible use of either the Cantilever or Wilderspool. Jim expressed his thanks to Stafford for their assistance. The group asked about the use of Wincham Park, Derek explained that he had had an amicable meeting with Witton’s Directors but an agreement could not be reached for the remainder of 2011/12 season, or 2012/13 season. Mike Isherwood asked about Winsford United and stated that more fans would attend games there, however both Derek and Jim told the group that the ground was not up to the required standard.
Paul Stockton asked Jim to explain the ground share arrangement with Witton at the start of the 2011/12 season. Jim advised that Paul O’Brien had met with Mark Harris to set the agreement up, it was a paperwork exercise but that Witton knew Vics would not play there. No payments were due, therefore rumours that Vics owe Witton is false. The League tried to force the Club to play the Kendal game at Wincham Park, but Jim refused and suffered a £500 fine. The ‘security of tenure’ issue at the VS was raised, Jim said he and others had failed to spot the ‘3 day rule’.
Mark Holman advised that Thor had agreed to meet with a cross section of fans to discuss a potential offer of assistance. A meeting was in the process of being arranged. Jim fully accepted that Thor had bought the land, however he said there was a moral issue which was backed by Sport England via a S106 agreement. James pointed out that Sport England were statutory consultees and as such, did not have legal powers to stop planning. Jim said that he was trying to foster an amicable relationship with David Hewitt/Thor. Derek read a letter out from Mike Dix (CW&C) which stated that meetings had taken place between the Authority, Cheshire FA and Thor and that the Council remained committed to assisting the Club.
A discussion then took place about the events surrounding the Club’s relocation to the VS and that the Council (VRBC) had promoted the land to the Vics.
The group wanted to know whether plans were in the pipeline for a new site and Jim advised that discussions were taking place and that the preferred option would be Moss Farm. Vicki asked where Steve McNally’s plans fitted in and Jim told the group that he wasn’t going to stop Steve looking at the possibilities of the site at Lostock.
Harmony and the use of ICT
Derek stressed that everyone needed to work together and not against each other. He also stated that the use of ICT and forums can send mixed messages and can be counterproductive. Fans are obviously concerned about the Club’s demise but they should take care in what they post. The FA, Cheshire FA, the League and opposition Clubs look at our site and will be left with a bad impression.
Wayne explained that scouting for the Club always starts with looking at information on other Clubs’ websites. He was concerned about a lack of censorship and harmony. It was agreed that common sense should be used on such a public forum to limit the damage that is being done.
Where do we go from here?
A discussion took place about how we could support the Club going forward. Reference was made to the old Drill Field Trust/Morbaine situation. James stated that everyone felt part of the Club at that time, however they don’t now. Should supporters be able to raise substantial funds, then a legally binding agreement would have to be in place for supporter representation on the Board. Jim stated that he would have no issues with that, as long as a confidentiality agreement was signed and a business case was presented, he would happily open the books.
Steve McNally’s plans were once again discussed and Ray outlined that the Juniors are a big stakeholder in the future and that Steve had made suggestions and had ideas that they would listen to. The Juniors were going in to the situation with an open mind.
* Action – the Trust Board members agreed to discuss the possibilities of working/investing in the Club at their Board meeting. Then, as a democratic organisation, they would put options to their membership on 19 May. Should the members instruct them to set up initial talks with Jim, then they would make contact with him.
Derek suggested the idea of setting up a ‘Joint Liaison Group’ where all parties could work together. Ray advised that a supporters meeting had taken place before the game at Winsford, attended by Trust Board members, former members of the OSC and representatives from the Juniors. This was designed to make initial contact and try to help clear up some of the misconceptions across the board. Further meetings were planned. The group felt that it would be a good idea for the Trust to meet with Steve McNally and Ray would speak with him to arrange.
Any other business
The Trust Board members wanted to clarify their position with regard to the setting up of a new club. Paul reminded the group that Jim had stated at a fans meeting, that he may not be able to sustain the football club in the new season. Therefore Trust members had voted to instruct the Board to alter the constitution to allow them to formulate plans for a new football club – ‘just in case’. The Trust Board reiterated that the setting up of a new club was not their number one aim.
Rob Millington advised the group about the Juniors situation. It had been agreed at a meeting of their Management Committee that NVJFC would support the senior club. This continues to be their stance.
James asked what communication would be put in the public domain about the purpose of this meeting. It was agreed that Derek would be best placed to deal with this issue, however it would probably be best to wait until the decision of the Trust members was known with regard to approaching the Club with a business case for potential involvement. Vicki agreed to help Derek.
Mike and Chris gave their point of view, as two passionate Vics fans. They both believed that fans should be part of the decision making process of the club and it would be great to see people working together to secure the future of the club.
Closing remarks by the President
Derek closed the meeting by thanking everyone for being so frank, yet respectful. It was clear that everyone had pride in the club, but obviously had differing opinions on how best to deal with the issues. He asked if everyone was in favour of making this a regular event and it was agreed. Following the outcome of the Trust meeting on 19 May, contact would be made with all parties to agree the next meeting date.