The Trust was invited to the club for a meeting on Friday 3rd May. The Trust went into the meeting with an open mind and were keen to focus on the six principles agreed with the fans, at the fan meeting on 23rd March.
Below is a reminder of the six principles.
- Transparency and openness – we expect frequent and formal engagement with Trust Oldham and fans.
- A clear plan – an outline of what you seek to achieve and by what means over the short, medium and long term. This should include clear and measurable objectives.
- Trust and integrity – we want our owner and the Board of Directors to act in a way which builds trust in the ownership and management of the club and a sense that it is in safe hands.
- Delegation of control and authority at the club.
- Fulfilment of legal and financial obligations.
- Establishment of an operational Board of Directors.
Below are the meeting notes
OAFC meeting with Oldham Trust. At BP on 03/05/2019.Time 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Attendees Club: AL, ML, DS, BO, MS, JH
Attendees Trust: DR, KH, MH, MG, PW, TW
Attendees Clubs guests: AF, DM, MH, PG
Introductions around the table
- BO (club) asked what The Trust wants from this meeting. TW (Trust) answered minimum it would be the Club’s response to the 6 fans’ expectations as per the fan letter and how we move forward together. Timescales not set with regards to meeting ending today. If we have time then we will also look at the 13 fan questions.
- BO (club) explained Mr Lemsagam has invested millions to stabilise the Club after it was left in a terrible state by the previous owner. It was explained that the Club was sold with undisclosed claims, debts and liabilities totalling millions of pounds. Mr Lemsagam has therefore had to undertake an extensive period of restructuring at the club and he is now in a position to discuss this with the other shareholder (Trust) and to some degree, the fans. BO acknowledges the Club could have communicated more openly with the Trust but on many occasions this is limited by legal and other restrictions.
The Trust acknowledges the significant investment by the Chairman and without it, it is possible that the Club would have gone into administration.
- The Trust asked the Club to clarify the management restructuring such as the board make up. BO explained the proposed board structure will be: AL, ML, BO, AM (legal adviser from Brandsmiths) and Trust Rep DR. The proposed board comprises of a number of people with previous experience in both football and business.
Trust asked timescales for putting the Board in place. This will take place once all proposed member are ratified by the EFL. It was agreed that the board would formally meet at least once a month.
- What is Chairman’s vision for the club? Answer: Chairman wanted to lay good foundations first and has started by:
An essential restructure of club staff;
Resolving on-going financial issues but investing heavily and reducing unnecessary overheads; and
Revitalising the commercial department, renegotiating of commercial deals and employing an experienced commercial manager.
- PW/DR (Trust) confirmed the lack of communication has been an issue as when an information vacuum exists rumours will fill the void, many exaggerated or even unfounded, which causes a toxic atmosphere and severely damages the club’s reputation and the perception of the club to the outside world. The confidence of fans has been dented by broken promises and dashed hopes of the Chris Moore and Simon Corney eras, making them sceptical and sensitive to the risk of setbacks – and the passion of fans, an asset in other respects, means they listen to any information from any source.
Season ticket marketing campaigns based around getting behind Frankie Bunn and Paul Scholes have been a marketing own goal when they quickly left the club thereafter, raising uncertainty about the direction of the club. The club has not been good at the reputational management in dealing with the fallout and negative stories and better (quicker) communication and explanation is needed to improve this.
Fans’ concerns focus around:
- Financial stability of the club
- High staff turnover
- Existence and credibility of short and long term planning
Can the club confirm:
- Business strategy/strategic plans for the Club are in hand and has any PEST and SWOT analysis been completed to address any weaknesses and build on the undoubted strengths of the Club and its passionate support base?
- It was noted that as shareholders the Trust are entitled to receive full accounts and we do request them. Although it is not a legal requirement, publishing a cash flow statement in the accounts would be most helpful and would show the extent of the Owner’s investment in the Club. When will the latest accounts be provided (they are late as were those for recent years)?
- That there is a formal documented management structure, and a scheme of delegation for when the Chairman is away?
AL/ML/DS/BO/MS (Club) explained how the wages are paid within a daily expenditure cap from the Bank, the payment of wages to different groups of staff is made in an structured way within the daily expenditure cap. This mean that sometimes wages could be paid to different groups of staff on different days.
Staff restructure is almost complete after an initially high turnover to bring the inherited and bloated administrative structure into line with the norms for other League 2 clubs and the current financial status and sustainability. Staffing is now stabilising although there is still some turnover due to successful staff moving on to bigger clubs or other larger organisation (such as Sam Rasbottom and Richard Cooper) – explained by BO/DS/ML (Club)
Explanation by AL, MS, DS (Club) of a staff development plan in place moving forward. There was incredulity by Club staff at the rumour that the Academy is to be shut down. The Club value the academy and are proud that the current first team squad is made up of 5 academy graduates.
Explanation by AL (club) that in the next six months there will be a new managerial structure in place.
Explanation that ML (club) will be meeting players early next week to discuss contracts (started W/C 06.05.19)
Confirmation by AL/DS (club) that the playing budget for next year is 100% better that this season.
New commercial manager will be starting at the club by mid-May. New shirts on order.
Trust (TW) Moving forward can we agree:
- Statement with reassurances for fans regarding:- plan in place, financial stability, working together in the future. Date to be advised.
- Fan meetings. Trust offered to run the EFL required meetings. Club to consider.
- Fan meetings with Chairman. To be considered details to be confirmed
- Trust/chairman meetings. To be considered details to be confirmed.
During the meeting the Chairman’s passion and ambition for the Club were evident – the Trust looks for the fulfilment of these ambitions and working with him in the future.