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TRUST STATEMENT No 6
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TRUST STATEMENT No 6 – THURSDAY 2 FEBRUARY 2012
As previously advertised, a meeting of the Vics Supporters Trust was held last night at Wincham Community Centre.
Just under 50 members attended which, given the relatively short notice of the meeting allied to the fact that many members live away from the town, was a good percentage of the current Trust membership. Equally heartening was the number of new members who joined.
The meeting lasted for just under 3 hours. I think that this just shows how much the football club means to so many people. The only downside is that, given the duration of the meeting and the wide range of opinions that were tabled, it is simply not possible to provide those members and fans who couldn’t attend a blow-by-blow account of the events.
Hence, what follows is a very abridged version of my own personal recollection of the evening and the really passionate and excellent level of debate that took place. Indeed, before I move on, I think that all present last night deserve a real pat on the back for the way that the manner in which they conducted themselves in what was clearly a highly emotive meeting. I would also welcome any input from fans / trust members who were present, particularly if you recollection differs from my own!
The meeting started with the Trust Chairman Paul Stockton giving a rundown of the events of the last two weeks with particular reference to his own role in the matter and that of the Trust. In particular, Paul explained the meetings that we had with THOR and the reasons why we had thought as a Board that it was important to continue dialogue. Paul reported that the Board had another positive meeting with THOR just prior to this meeting and that a proposal had been put to them, the detailed of which would be provided later in the meeting.
Paul also made reference to the open meeting with supporters a week earlier at which the Chairman of NVFC had attended and had advised us of certain matters, particularly the point that he had signed an agreement that would enable the club to remain at the VS for the remainder of the season in exchange for him fulfilling certain conditions.
Paul then went onto to try to explain the events that had occurred over the weekend which had lead to the impromptu ‘assembly’ at the end of the Marine game which resulted in NVFC declining to sign the lease and electing to ‘fight’ the re-development of the VS based, as the Trust understands, on advice received from Sport England.
Members present were then advised that the purpose of the meeting was that the Trust Board wished to consult the membership and gain their view as to the manner in which way they wish the Board to act on their behalf with regard to the in the short, medium and long-term future of NVFC. The Board’s view was that there are three principal scenarios.
i) That we cut off all ties with the existing club and establish a ‘new’ club wholly run by the supporters for the benefit of the supporters.
ii) That adopt the middle ground in that we seek to work with the existing club in an attempt to secure its future – whether this be (temporarily) at the Victoria Stadium, an interim ‘home’ or a new location (or any combination of the three), but in doing so we seek to obtain the agreement of the current owner for the Supporters Trust to have at least a 50:50 or greater representation in the running of the club.
iii) We continue to support the existing club in whatever way we can and that we use any existing and future funds the Trust may have to enable this.
The Board fully recognised that there are probably a number of ‘sub-options’ of the above alternatives that members may wish to consider.
There then followed a wide ranging and lengthy debate that touched on a number of topics including the continued viability of the current club, the Trust’s plans and ideas for the future, the role of other parties in this matter – particularly the Council, Sport England, Supporters Direct and Cheshire FA – and the environmental and planning considerations that might be need to be taken into account should THOR wish to develop the Victoria Stadium Site
At the end of what was a long, emotive but highly productive evening, two statements / motions were tabled.
The first relates to the Victoria Stadium Infrastructure and was proposed by the Trust Board and reads as follows;
A) The Protection of the Victoria Stadium Infrastructure
At our meeting with THOR Speciality Chemicals earlier tonight, the Trust Board made the following statement.
We fully recognise and appreciate THOR’s kind offer made in their statement of Friday 20 January 2012 in which they stated the following;
Thor recognises that the heartbeat of any football club is its supporters, therefore we would be delighted to donate both the Danebank and the floodlights to the club and its supporters in such a way that it protects the clubs longer term interests.
Thor is willing to discuss any other items associated with the stadium”.
However, given that the current football club has almost no tangible assets and currently no alternative home stadium from which to operate from, the view of the Trust Board is the existing club is very unlikely to be able to exist in its current guise for much longer.
In the meetings and discussions the Trust representatives have had with THOR, we have sought to explain the role of the Supporters Trust both in terms of promoting the club we support, but also encouraging the development of football within the wider community we exist within - as can be seen with our long-standing and positive relationship with NVFC Juniors - and the furtherance of the over-arching ideals and aims of supporters-based organisations which encourage and promote supporters based representation on the boards of football clubs.
In doing this, we have attempted to make it clear to THOR that the Supporters Trust is the only body that has the long term interests of both Northwich Victoria FC and the wider community at heart.
With this in mind, we have today submitted the following proposal to THOR.
i) On the successful completion of the sale of the Victoria Stadium to THOR, they donate the existing Danebank Stand, the floodlights, main stand and any associated fixtures and fittings that they do not require to the Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust.
ii) That THOR fund the dismantling of these structures and provide suitable secure storage pending the acquisition / purchase of a new venue for the existing / successor club.
In making this proposal, the Trust Board not only believes that it will help secure what are significant assets for the current or indeed any future club, but they will help to minimise the significant costs that will be associated with securing and developing an alternative future home for Northwich Victoria FC.
The wider Trust members are asked to support the Board’s proposals.
A vote was taken and all present bar two indicated their support. Those who did not abstained.
Prior to the motion being tabled and the vote being taken, the Trust Board advised the Membership that, although THOR could not give provide any immediate agreement to our request, they did not wish to see the significant infrastructure that is the VS demolished / disposed without it being used for the benefit of NVFC and the wider Mid-Cheshire community. They also indicated that they would seriously consider the proposal made by the Board and that they were more than prepared to be involved with future, ongoing discussions with “any interested party”.
Updates were also provided regarding ongoing and future planned discussions with the Borough Council, Cheshire FA, Supporters Direct and Sport England. In relation to the former, contact had already been made with Lynn Riley Executive Member for Community and Environment and as a result contact had been made with Officers of the Council – including those from planning – with a view to opening discussions about both any future planned development of the VS and alternative homes for NVFC within the Borough.
The second proposal suggested from ‘the Floor’ and was subject to much debate. However, a vote was eventually taken and this was unanimously in favour of the Trust continuing to have an ongoing and positive dialogue with the Chairman of the Football club with a view to ascertaining;
i) His future plans for the football club, particularly in relation to an alternative ‘home’ ground, whether this be temporary or permanent.
ii) The current financial position of the football club (i.e. The Trust would require open access to the current and previous financial records of NVD and NVFC 2007)
iii) Given the findings into the financial condition and future plans of NVFC, whether he would consider the opportunity for the supporters to take a part or controlling interest in the ongoing management and future of the club.
Again, it needs to be recognised that, in making these requests, the Trust is not only seeking to keep open the option of its long standing and continued support of the current club, but it is also attempting to provide the membership with as much information as possible regarding the current situation of the club so that the Trust is able to make reasonable and assured decisions as to the best way in keeping the name of NVFC alive both in the short, medium and long term.
As a result of the proposal being adopted, the Trust will be writing to the Chairman of the football club in the next few days outlining the contents of the above resolution along with a request that he meets both the Trust Board and a selection of members to discuss the requests tabled by the Trust.
The meeting ended in a highly positive note by one generous Vics fan offering to pay for a 50 seater coach to take Vics fans to the FA Trophy game against Hampton & Richmond Borough at Macclesfield for free. In my view, this just further emphasises the passion that the club plays in the heart of Vics fans.