Trust Update: 14th September 2019
In our August review we set out three key areas of focus for September. Our further update is provided below:
- Club/Fan EFL required meetings: The club has confirmed that a fan-club meeting will be held by the end of October. This is something we have been requesting for some time. This is to be led by the club, and we will be encouraging that all senior club officials are in attendance. This is necessary for the event to be meaningful and productive.
- Trust representation to the Club Board: We set out the need for an update from the club on seven critical matters in our August update. These items have been requested and we expect to receive an update at the Club Board meeting currently scheduled for the end of September.
- Trust to meet the Football Supporters Federation (FSA): We met the FSA representatives Ashley Brown and Deborah Dilworth on 6th September.
The principal aim of the FSA meeting was to secure their input to how the Trust can be more effective in holding the club to account and getting underneath the skin of the club’s finances as is needed at the current time.
At our meeting with the FSA we reviewed our legal entitlement as a shareholder of the club and right to be represented on the club’s Board of Directors. The FSA are satisfied with the key lines of questioning being pursued by the Trust to better understand critical financial and legal issues affecting the club and the general approach being taken in this regard. This activity largely takes places behind the scenes. Some fans may choose not to recognise this, but the Trust is content that it asking the necessary questions of the club and making its presence felt from within.
As we have previously stated, the initial run-through of the club’s accounts was welcomed, and the transparency offered by the owner in showing the proof of funds he has invested in that financial period was appreciated. However, updates from the information sought from our August update remain unanswered at this point.
The FSA met with the EFL the previous day. Deborah and Ashley gave an overview of that meeting and specifically lessons learned from Bury and Bolton and the ‘warning signs’ which Trust Oldham should be looking out for in relation to our own club. In light of this feedback our focus is refined as follows:
- Securing timely answers to the seven questions raised within our August update plus additional points raised by the FSA. These are critical to getting a full picture of the club’s finances as noted above. We have the means to secure access to this information utilising our position on the Board of Directors. The additional questions relate specifically to evidence of salary and associated payments being made on time and in a manner which satisfies the club’s contractual commitments
- Trust meeting with the EFL: Being set up as a general fact finding exercise and to understand their activities and views on football finances generally in light of recent events
- Escalation route: Developing a strategy for taking emergency action if we are not content with responses received from the club and / or if information received raises concerning issues. We are engaging with other club Trusts to understand best practice in contingency planning
- Future long term plan: Building bridges and networking with businesses who share our objective of ensuring a long term viable future for the club and whose contacts and resource can be tapped into
In the statement from the Chairman and the Board of Directors of 12th September, it was stated that there was a desire to “forge a strong and open working relationship” with Trust Oldham. This is something we are also committed to insofar as this is conducive to the Trust doing its job effectively from its position within the club. We trust that in light of the above statement, the seven critical questions we have asked will be addressed in the run up to the September board meeting and promised Fans Forum.
We welcome that the club is committed to transparency and look forward to seeing greater commitment to this going forward in order to build trust between the club and fans. We will push hard for this as a key expectation set out in our letter to the club owner of 28th March.