There has been much speculation of late regarding the ownership of the club and a potential sale being connected to my lack of attendances at games. Most of what has been written across social media is nothing more than rumours and game playing. My absence from games over the last couple of months has been down to illness and then personal reasons, which some supporters discovered and have sent their congratulations, so thank you. As I have said many times, I have had no interest in selling this football club, I believe myself and my team have done a fantastic job in keeping this football club alive in seriously difficult times. I’m also proud of our recruitment this season and our progress with a young dynamic set of players who have shown enthusiasm, determination and passion for the shirt. With our supporters behind them, and a return of our more experienced players, we have a real chance of making the playoffs this season, even in the adversity of what is a seriously competitive league this season.
Regarding the ownership of the club and the circus a minority of supporters and certain supporters groups have made of a potential sale of the club, is very concerning and clearly impacting our attendances and financial viability, in what is already a hugely challenging year financially.
I bought this football club, not because I was a supporter or because I’m from the area, but because I am passionate about football, I love the game and I saw an opportunity to build something great, a legacy project, something for the next generation. I have fallen for this club and the people of the town and community. I am a Glover and if any of you have seen me, I’m nervous at games and passion in my support. I want the club to succeed and I have ensured there has been huge investment behind that passion.
Selling this club has never been my desire and I find it incredible that the Glovers Trust, that has no shareholdings or that doesn’t do any real good for the club, or any positive activities, that sole purpose is to hold whoever is the clubs owner to account, regardless of the economic situation, who has the audacity to effectively place the club up for sale and hold interviews with perspective buyers, would publicly push one particular consortium consistently for numerous months, without knowing their financial capabilities or current ability to conclude a deal?
Then the Glovers Trust post over the weekend that at the emergency Supporter’s Alliance Meeting, I stated “I would no longer financially support the club and that the club were surviving on the FA Cup monies.” This is yet another incorrect statement from the Glovers Trust, that they have done numerous times over the past year, as they look to force through their own agenda. I actually stated as part of a larger conversation, why would I invest my family and children’s money somewhere I’m not wanted? I never said I would withdraw my support, simply looking for supporters groups to help with decreasing attendances and increasing negativity growing. Not only I have been mis-quoted, but once the Alliance meeting notes are presented you will not also see this mis-representation but also how the Glovers Trust misled the rest of the Supporters Alliance Group at a previous meeting in telling them it had been myself holding up a possible sale, in order to get support for their preferred bidder, when in fact I agreed deals with both parties many months ago and it is both groups who have failed to complete a deal.
For absolute clarity, I have today given both parties this week to conclude a deal. Should they both fail to conclude on a deal I will continue to be the owner of this great football club with the supporters on board that want to continue with my tenure. I will go back to my plans for building a better Yeovil Town FC, utilising our infrastructure to be better on and off the field. This will not include over-spending on players and bring about further financial insecurity but working towards a financially sustainable position, which at present we are nowhere near achieving but will give Darren every pound possible to have a competitive squad. I will present to supporter’s a long-term vision and plan to improve this club for future generations.
On a personal level, the social media criticism towards myself is bitterly disappointing, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This club is only here today because of the funds invested into the club and the deep restructuring that has taken place, after years of mis-management and ever reducing revenues after multiple relegations. There has been criticism of my decision to take funds from Sport England, which without those funds the club would not be here today. We took this step as many other National League Systems clubs’ did, as a result of the government’s U-turn on their position towards grants, which were originally given to get the season started. No other clubs that took Sport England loans seem to have received the amount of negativity a minority of our supporters have shown towards this club and myself.
To clear other matters up, it has been noted that some supporters have picked up on changes to company accounts, where they now believe the recent amendments are about myself levying the club with more debt, yet the actual reason for the changes is to write off more than £1m (one million pounds) of shareholder loans across Yeovil Football & Athletic Club (The) Limited and Yeovil Town Holdings Limited, this will become apparent when the changes take effect in company’s accounts, therefore reducing the clubs debts, something you would think supporters would be happy with but yet again there is a minority breeding negativity.
I keep getting called an asset stripper, when I have done this, what exactly have I asset stripped, what has been sold during my three seasons for that matter?
I get called a property developer, what property have I ever built, I’m an ex-music agent that went into nightclubs and F&B businesses.
I keep getting told I’m destroying this club, in what way? Who else has brought the club through the most difficult of times, not only its own history but one of society’s most difficult times?
Misleading supporters to not attend games, or assist with campaigns to get the current owner to sell based on lies, or sending threats to my family members is not going to convince me to buy another striker or increase the squad depth or sell to someone who doesn’t have funds to complete a deal. All it does is helps destroys the club you love, reduces our financial capabilities and keeps us from progressing. For every 1000 people that does not come to watch a home game, it reduces our budget by around £20,000. The message to the Supporter’s Alliance was not one of myself not supporting the club, it was one that this club cannot operate as it does with 2,000 people attending home games. We would once again need to restructure on and off the field. Our budget is based on 3,000 people and if we don’t achieve that the budget is short of what cash it needs. When we achieve in advance of 3,000, as we have regularly in the past, it gives us the opportunity to invest in the squad, with additional players to compete for a vital top 7 place, as we have previously done with Marc Richards, Chris Dagnall and Jimmy Smith.
I understand there has been a desire from supporters groups and some supporters for myself to give clarity on the position before now, and any progression of a potential deal but I wanted to give the consortiums every opportunity to stand firm on assurances given and conclude a deal.
I have always done what I felt was in the best interest of this club and will continue to do so. I will update you all in due course of any developments. In the meantime, it is more important than ever, with the fantastic run of results, that everyone gets united behind Darren and our team for this weekend’s game and the busy Christmas period to come. It has been said before, but this club is nothing without its amazing supporters and our team needs you now.
Continue to stay safe.