Chairman’s Report: YCST SGM June 5th 2017
My report identifies significant events and developments in the life of The York City Supporters Trust during the past 12 months and the period since our last General Meeting in November 2014.
The history of the Trust over the last 3 or 4 years has been one of serious decline. At this time last year, we were struggling both as a Board and as a Supporters Society. In my opening remarks at the Open Forum on March 27th, I stated that the trust had been on the receiving end of fair and legitimate criticism from many quarters. We had failed to keep in touch with our members, failed to call meetings, keep proper accounts or make legally required returns to the Financial Conduct Authority. Most seriously, we were failing to adequately represent the concerns of fans during a critical period in the life of York City FC.
By the summer of 2015 membership of the Board had fallen below quorate numbers and without the co-option of several volunteers during the next 18 months we would have struggled to recover and maintain adequate administration of the organisation.
At this point I must pay sincere tribute to those volunteers who have stepped forward to join the Board at various points during the last 3 years. Without their complete commitment and huge amounts of hard work we would not have been able to begin the re-generation of the Supporters Trust which is now getting underway.
It remains profoundly true that York City Supporters Trust is only as strong, or as weak, as its membership. Since 2006 there has been a massive reduction in membership numbers and therefore in the resources needed to provide leadership and to organise activities. But since the new year (2017) there have been signs of recovery.
I would like to highlight some important achievements during the past 12 months
An increase in membership. Our current membership stands at 677 of which 125 (+ 3 Juniors) are annual members and 552 are life members. This represents an increase of new, renewed or upgraded members of 77 in the period since January of this year.
Improved Communication with our members People in and around York City Football Club have now been re-assured that we still exist and that we are actively trying to achieve the objectives set for the Trust at its foundation. More effective contact has been made possible largely through the launch of a new, interactive website and more active use by the Board of social and broadcast media and the press. We held an Open Forum for all members and fans in March 2017 and we intend to publish a members’ online Newsletter in due course. We also plan to be more conscientious both in recruiting new members and reminding existing ones to renew their subscriptions when they fall due. We recognise that in turn, we must extend this by offering significant opportunities to Trust members to get involved and to feel that they are valued.
Improved Communication with York City Football Club. The main purpose of any football Supporters Trust is to represent the interests of members and fans, and to communicate their views to the owners and managers of their club. Other Trusts have built excellent working relationships with football club owners. Many, through shareholding agreements, are represented by Directors on their club’s Board. In recent years YCST’s relationship with Jason McGill and the York City Board has become distant, sometimes hostile. During the last 12 months the Trust Board has had some success in facilitating more frequent meetings and dialogue with Jason McGill and other members of the Club’s management and administration. Discussions have taken place with regards to the Trust’s right to representation on the club board and on issues related to the future funding of York City.
The Trust Board believes strongly in the community work undertaken in the name of the club by The York City Foundation under the leadership of Paula Stainton. We are developing ways of working together with The Foundation and commending its activities to all York City supporters.
We plan also to build closer links between the Trust and the Academy, and with York City Ladies.
Improved Fundraising. All supporters of York City recognise that recent setbacks on the field and the seemingly endless postponement of our move into a new stadium have placed intolerable pressures on the finances of York City FC. The Trust recognises with gratitude the considerable personal investment in the club by Jason McGill and JM Packaging which has continued to pay the bills well beyond the point at which Mr McGill expected York City to have financial security in the Community Stadium.
The Trust proudly retains its 25% shareholding in York City FC and, as a major stakeholder, takes very seriously its financial responsibility to contribute significantly to the budget. Fundraising plans under consideration include a members’ contributory scheme, possible “prize draw” schemes and seeking donations, sponsoring etc from local companies and businesses. “Marketing” the Trust will be an important element of our future strategy.
The Board aims to set up an “Events Sub-Committee” responsible for organising fundraising activities of various kinds. The sub-committee will look to recruit a group of volunteers to provide practical help.
Events already planned include an Indian Meal and fundraiser at “The Parvin Restaurant” in Haxby in July, A “Fun Day” jointly organised with the York City Foundation” and a showing in September/October of the heart-warming BBC film, “Marvellous” (the story of “Nello”, the charismatic Stoke City kit-man, with live appearances by Nello himself and Malcolm Clarke, Trust Life Member, Chair of The Football Supporters Federation and life-long friend of Nello).
York City Supporters Trust once raised £200,000 at a time of severe crisis for The Minstermen. We may not be able to beat that, but supporters of our football club again need to dig into pockets and rattle some buckets to raise York City to a better place.
And finally, a word about two lifetime servants of the Trust.
First, a word of thanks to my predecessor Ian Hey who was a member of the Trust Board way back at the beginning and stepped down, as Chairman, in early January this year. Ian’s long service to the Trust through thick and thin is to be admired and is appreciated.
Second, a word of remembrance and tribute to Steve Beck who died in April 2015. His Trust membership number was number 1- which says it all! He did a massive amount to help save York City, and then, for 3 years, Chaired the Board of our then supporter-owned football club. His achievements are an example and a continuing inspiration to us all.
JOHN LACY: CHAIRMAN-YORK CITY SUPPORTERS TRUST