I promised to update you on the discussions at the Trust board meeting on Thursday evening, concerning the Season ticket pricing for next season and other matters.
Firstly though, I want to explain how the Trust works with the Club in the new world where we are a minority shareholder. The Club has a board made up of 5 people, Rob Couhig, Missy Couhig, Pete Couhig, Trevor Stroud and David Cook. The last two as you know are also Trust Directors and therefore are our representatives on the Club board. Legally, the decisions they make as part of the Club board have to be in the best interests of the Club, first and foremost. However, as Trust Directors, they know what the Trust interests are and will work with the rest of the Club board to put those forward.
Rob Couhig has set up a weekly meeting (virtually) of the Club board. This is not a formal Board meeting, apart from once a month, but a general update and discussion of issues. A good example of this working well is the development of protocols with the EFL for the play-off games at Fleetwood and Adams Park.
As Trust Chairman, I have also had a number of discussions with Rob and Pete and am able to pick the phone up at any time if there are any urgent issues that need to be discussed on behalf of the Trust.
It is fair to say that this is new to all of us, and we are still working on improving it, but we have made a start.
The season ticket prices for 20/21 were announced on Friday 19th June. The Trust were not aware of the date or the detail of that announcement in advance, and Rob has put his hand up to say that was not ideal.
Discussions between Trevor, David and Rob on the 19th, confirmed that the key area that the Trust would have pushed back on, i.e. Junior pricing had already been adjusted and that there is a will to learn from what had happened on both sides, to minimise the risk of a repeat. It is important to recognise that we are in a learning process as far as working with the new owners but that we, the Trust will put forward your views and interests at every opportunity. I am certain that Rob understands that if the Club and the Trust work closely together then it will benefit everyone.
I think it is also important to recognise all of the positives which have come out of the partnership with Rob so far.
As a result of firstly a loan, and then the purchase of the Club by Rob, Gareth has managed to assemble a squad which is three matches away from playing Championship football!
We had the money to recently perform a full renovation of the pitch which looks like a carpet.
Commercial income is being optimised as best it can be in the current difficult circumstances, and we are looking at a state of the art wi-fi system being installed, which will be the envy of most Clubs in the UK.
Protecting the Quarter
The Trust as a 25% owner of the Football Club, has the right to have two Directors on the Club board. We also own a “Golden share”: This means that the dark and light blue quarters design of the shirt cannot be changed without Trust approval; a change of design of home or away shirts more than once in any two consecutive seasons cannot take place without Trust agreement; a change of the naming rights to the Stadium so that the name does not include “Adams Park” cannot take place without Trust approval. We also own the Adams Park stadium, which is free of debt.
In order to maintain our level of influence, we have to be able to contribute 25% of any capital call that is made in the future. This capital call may be needed in the next 12 months to ensure that the Club remains viable and the investment required for the future is able to be made. It is therefore vital that the Trust has the funds available for this when it is required. For example, if new capital of £600,000 was put in by the Couhig family, then the Trust would need to put in £200,000 to avoid dilution of our 25%. In order to be able to afford something like this the Trust will be looking to raise funds in the future. We will be relaunching the 500 Club in a few weeks’ time for the 20/21 season, Lisa Bowker will be launching a FUNdraising day and there will be a number of other activities to follow. Any funds that the Trust raises and passes on to the Club, will be counted as a capital credit against any future capital call.
I know that Rob is doing everything he can to avoid a cash call on the Trust, but anything we can raise, will not only maintain the equilibrium, but continue to drive our great Club forward.
The play off weekend is only a week away and the excitement is rapidly building. Although both matches will be played behind closed doors, I know all Blues fans will be there in spirit, in front of the TV and planning for a Wembley final on the 13th.