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Club News

CLUB STATEMENT | An update from Scott Priestnall

An update from the Chairman

24 February 2021

Dear Glover’s Fans,

It’s been a difficult time for everyone, for every industry, for every worker not being able to go to work and for our children not being able to go to school.  The pandemic has effected everyone and my heart goes out to all those that have lost loved ones.

It almost hasn’t felt right that Football has continued while there is still so much tragedy still in the world.  Hopefully our increased performances on the pitch of late and with it our new viewing platform has improved spirits.

I appreciate it was been since December that I last gave you a formal update, but a lot has been going off in the National League from funding issues to a league resolution voting on ending the season and public rows over grants versus loans.  A lot has had to be discussed and allowed to play out before I could give you the clubs position in all this.

I want to start by thanking my team in Huish Park who have had to juggle lockdown restrictions with their families at home, while keeping the football club operating and fulfilling our crowded fixture schedule.  The same goes for our management team and players who have numerous protocols to follow to ensure training and matches continue.  Their continued commitment to this football club is a credit to this community.

I will take this opportunity to announce that David Mills, Chief Operating Officer, has left the club.  David is an incredibly well-liked guy, with great integrity and I wish him well in the future.  David and his family will always be welcome at Huish Park and I know he’ll be cheering the team on when it is safe to get everyone back into the stadium.  I am pleased that David will remain as Chairman of Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust.

 

Alliance Meeting Notes

I want to apologise for the lateness in issuing the notes from the last Supporters Alliance meeting, it was delayed my end with the amount of work I’ve had since the start of the year, I will ensure this doesn’t happen in the future but unfortunately they’ve been further delayed by one of the supporters group finding discrepancies in the notes.

National League and Funding

The well documented league vote was concluded last week that saw the National League continue while North and South divisions came to an end.  It was certainly a difficult vote to be part of considering we have not received any funding since December and with our cash reserves now depleted, like many clubs, it became more of issue of survival rather than a desire to actually finish the season.  My view has always been to continue to the season, we are a football club, this is our job and we’re lucky we’ve had the luxury of being able to continue, albeit in a restricted capacity that is heavily regulated, however, we could only continue if we had a responsible funding line in place to continue.  I won’t go over the Loans versus Grants row that has featured heavily in the press, what I will say is that all clubs at our level have been hugely effected by the lack of clarity in funding when we restarted the season and now actually find ourselves in a worse financial position than if we hadn’t started the season.  To give you an idea the club this season is forecasted to lose over £1m in revenue as a result of the pandemic and supporters not being allowed in stadiums.  This is in comparison to the £285k received during October, November and December from Camelot in order to restart the season.

Make no mistake, no club at this level can survive a season without the revenues generated from supporters and commercial partners when supporters are in stadiums.  As a result we are now in a position where we have been offered a loan from Sport England, via support from the DCMS, to complete the season.  The club are currently exploring this offer with our legal team and hope to have a resolution in place by 1st March.  I am confident at this stage that an agreement will be satisfactory to both sides, but I should say, as sad as it is, should we not be able to finalise the loan, the club will not be able to complete this season.  Our players and staff would be placed on furlough.

 

Current On-Field performances

On a more promising note our performances and results on the pitch have improved over the last month or so and we now find ourselves just seven points off the playoffs, giving us the opportunity to fight for a playoff place.  I’m pleased with how our new additions to the squad have settled in and delighted with the balance we now have of young, ambitious players and experienced heads.

 

The Glover’s Trust Position

I have deliberately kept myself out of the very public way The Glover’s Trust have dealt with myself since invoking the ACV.  Contrary to what The Glover’s Trust may have you believe I did cooperate with them regularly before Christmas, both with the previous board and the new board; with John Oakes, Interim Vice Chairman, by phone once, Brendan Owens, Interim Chairman, by phone four times and then at a meeting with their new board on 21st December 2020.  I have also spoken to Brendan Owen twice since they invoked the ACV.

I will make no secret of my disappointment of their handling of the situation and their continued lack of respect towards myself.  I believe this relationship has become very one sided where The Glover’s Trust demand answers and information from myself, yet offer the football club very little in return, especially when you consider the hard work and support other groups from the Supporters Alliance offer the club.  As one of the Glover’s Trust board members confirmed at the last Alliance meeting, that at the meeting on 21st December 2020 the majority of the new Glover’s Trust board were in support of the SSDC deal.  I have found it incredible that between then and the 1st January, the board members felt that they were in a position to make such a drastic change in decision at short notice, effectively against the clubs wishes, without any substitute offer of financial support to the club, credible evidence towards their decision, clear and effective consultation with supporters, and without any consultation with myself since 21st December.  After publicly demanding a meeting with me, a meeting I should say I had already agreed I would accommodate before the public demand, I didn’t even get a phone call to discuss the lack of information they portrayed to have received or to inform me that they had made the decision to invoke the ACV, until an email was received from Brendan Owen on 2nd January where he sent me a copy of the letter triggering the ACV, without any explanation.

I like to think I had a good relationship with the previous chairman Stuart Burrell and the previous board, whom confirmed they would not have invoked the moratorium period, which was also confirmed to me by interim Chairman Brendan Owen, before the new board was appointed.

Contrary to The Glover’s Trust position on a lack of information provided, I have given the Glover’s Trust board actual lost revenue numbers this financial year due to the pandemic, our current creditor situation, monthly cash flow shortage as a result of the National League distribution of National Lottery funds and explained our cash requirement from January 2020 until the end of the season.  As you would never see a business divulge this kind of sensitive financial information or a football club to a supporters group for that matter, plus the reassurances I gave around directors loans, previous owners liabilities, having a leadership group in place to oversee the SSDC deal and development potential, having had meetings with SSDC directly, I fail to understand what information they were lacking, it still hasn’t been clarified to me as I write this. 

The Glover’s trust have constantly tried to use their status as nominee of the ACV right to bid to gain a seat on the football clubs board.  As I said at the meeting on 21st December 2020, I will not be strong armed into giving a seat on the board, unless that person or organisation brought commercial benefit to the football club. I did, however, agree to consider one or two members of the Supporter’s Alliance joining the board, by way of a voice for supporters, which potentially could be one of Glover’s Trust members.  This would be judged on its own merits and something I have discussed with Supporter’s Alliance Chairman Rich Rendell.

 

Glover’s Trust Questions

I did discuss The Glover’s Trust questions at the last Supporter Alliance meeting and I made The Glover’s Trust aware that supporters questions should be directed to the Supporters Alliance meetings as to include all groups and all supporters.  A forum is being organised at the next Alliance meeting so questions can be presented.

 

Land Update and Investors

As had been suggested by Glover’s Trust board members they would introduce potential investors to the football club.  None so far have been introduced.  Neither have they engaged with me further on their right to bid on the land at Huish Park since they invoked the ACV.  While they have until the end of May, they were fully aware of the clubs financial situation from January onwards, so I’m surprised they have chose to attempt to shame me on social media regarding questions, a lot of which they have previously asked and have answers to, rather than work with me, as is their Right To Bid, to safeguards the clubs future.

I have stated before that we have commercial offers for the land and therefore, other options to the SSDC deal. I have spent the time publicly, on social media and with supporters groups to put my view forward that this is what is best for the future of the football club.  I understand and appreciate some supporters will not share that view and not be happy with the strategy I put forward but unfortunately, I wasn’t going to please everyone.  The fact is we do now need to make a decision and move our land project forward.  While I have had many emails and messages of support, The Glover’s Trust stated they have received hundreds of letters against the proposed SSDC deal.  On such an important matter to the future of the football club, I have made myself accountable for my decision, we made the council meeting public, I spoke to the press and did Q and A’s with supporters.  I feel The Glover’s Trust should also be accountable for their decision and requested to see the letters.  I spoke with Brendan Owen directly by phone and at the last Supporters Alliance meeting was told I could receive them, I still await the letters and in a letter to Brendan Owen today have stated we will be prepared to work on ensuring we comply with data protection.

It’s disappointing that with all the good work that member groups of the Alliance do for our football club, that we have one group who rather than be part of the team and work together would rather breed negativity and attempt to create a divide between the club and its’ supporters.

I will not comment publicly again on The Glover’s Trust online activities to shame me and hope that as the spectacle it has become, is now concluded so I can focus my intentions on safeguarding the clubs financial future, working with Darren and Terry on our promotion push, and dealing with matters relating to the land.  I will continue to keep supporters updated as best I can over the coming months as well as supporters groups through the Supporters Alliance, of which The Glover’s Trust remain part of.

With regards to rumours of potential new investors, I have mentioned in the past I would always be open to discussions and there is an interested party.  This will be on the basis of investing equity into the club in return for shares.  Nothing has been finalised and I will keep you updated once I know more.  I will also confirm, although it has been incorrectly reported that I have been introduced to a potential takeover through Jed McCrory, Jed has introduced a potential investor who is known to some supporters, although I haven’t actually spoken with them yet or received evidence of funds.  For some reason, there are a few on social media that want to keep dragging Jed into takeover/ownership talks.  Jed is a friend who has offered to introduce a potential investor.  In these difficult times, all options have to be explored.  I have other friends in football who have offered assistance to the club in various ways and I’ve also been helping other clubs, as is the way it should be.  The football community is pretty small, and we are all working to get through this without any of us going out of business, nobody wants to see any club disappear because of this pandemic.

On land matters, we are still exploring the SSDC deal and have kept dialogue open with them.  We also have offers to sell the land when the moratorium period ends.  A decision will be made once the Sport England loan position is finalised as to our next step with regards a full planning application.  I will keep you updated as we get closer to an outcome.  Be assured I will discuss developments at Supporter Alliance meetings.  Also be assured that even with the ACV activated, I still want what is in the best long term interests of the football club and have been working hard to resolve our short term financial difficulties in order to give us the best possible future.  Obviously, as I’ve stressed, we’re in difficult times but you will be kept updated.

 

Personal Note

This is both a long and not completely positive update.  It is one of transparency.  When I took over the club it was something supporters yearned for, desired even.  To feel like they were part of their club again.  I have tried in all my communications to be open with you but it hasn’t always gone in my favour.  I get abuse for launching a Crowdfunder, at supporters request, which showed true supporters in their greatest light, then I get questions posed constantly about supporters buying shares or local business owners buying the club.  I have said for some time I would listen but no one has called.  Don’t also forget that there are some 300 shareholders in Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd.

I may not be someone who lives or was raised in the area, I may not be the wealthiest football club owner, even at this level, but I believe I can make a difference to this club, I believe I already have, not only steering this club through the most difficult time in our economy since World War 2, and we still have a long way to go, but we have improved links to the community, given supporters a voice and put a team together on and off the pitch to make Yeovil Town Football Club competitive again.

I may not have been born a Yeovil Fan, I haven’t done all the highs and lows you’ve encountered over the years, I haven’t had the issue of where and when you can get a beer on match days, but I am a supporter now and I am working on solutions and improvements all the time to make this club better and that includes listening to you.  We changed the shirt, we’ve been dealing with the alcohol covenant, we improved the streaming, we built a new online shop.  Trust me, I listen to your criticisms and I want to improve your experiences. 

If you have an idea or concern or improvement use your supporters groups and get it brought up in the next forum.

I want this club to succeed and I will do everything in my power to make that happen, on and off the pitch.

Take care everyone, keep getting behind your team and help me and the team at Huish Park to make this club great again.

 

Stay Safe

Scott

Your Chairman

 


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