Trust calls for transparency on Racecourse Development
"We recognise the importance of this development to the future prospects of the club but we only have one chance to get it right. It is imperative that we do not rush into decisions today that will come back to haunt us in the years to come. We feel that the club and the local authority hold the key to this and we are calling on them to provide some assurances for fans. We want a footprint for a 5000 seater stand. A detailed and enforceable financial plan to deliver this. And we also want some guarantees on the long term future of the club the ground and Colliers Park.
At a well attended meeting held last night, at the Wrexham Lager Club, Wrexham fans were updated on concerns held by the Wrexham Supporters Trust regarding the proposed Racecourse Development. Those concerns covered the finances of the development , the corporate structure and the actual physical detail of the proposals.
A WST spokesman stated;
"It is clear that there is a high level of concern regarding the development. There are more questions than answers at the moment. Fans want the transparency on this deal that Mr Retout promised them on October 7th last year."
Question and Answer Session:
Dave Davies: Regarding Wrexham Village company. Is the new company going to raise finance on the back of the clubs assets, will they be secured on clubs assets, and will any legal stipulations from the Council be enforceable between the two companies?
Lindsay Jones confirmed the application is in the name of Wrexham Village not WFC.
Mark Williams confirmed that the companies only relationship is via the directorship of Paul Retout of both companies.
Lindsay Jones raised concerns that the development is in the name of Village and are there any agreements in place to make sure the profits made by Wrexham Village is passed onto the club and not paid out to directors
Dave Davies suggested we should raise this with Geoff Moss
Nick Stockdale stated it is our understanding that 80% of the club will go to Wrexham Village of the new directors. We expect that the clubs asset will be used as security
Dave Davies stated that he is worried that, after all the battles, that we could lose ownership of the clubs assets.
Alan Harris: Underlying tones there is friction between Trust and Club, why youth team not supported?
Nick Stockdale confirmed that the former vice chair, Rob Griffiths, had a lot of dealings with Geoff Moss building a relationship. Past and existing correspondence with the club has been in a professional matter. That the one organisation wanted to do it in one way and the Trust have another way. We have always tried to approach in a professional manner and encourage the club to communicate with us. It is best to stick to the facts and not get in any personal spat with individuals. Nick Stockdale said that the Trust is looking towards the long term future of the club at the Racecourse Ground. Nick Stockdale asked for suggestions on how we can assist in this process and that we will be contacting in the club in next few weeks about any suggestions that you have.
Alan Harris: Thanked the Board for their efforts on behalf of fans (Round of applause followed.)
Thomas Stanford: How much tax does WFC 2006 owe after viewing figures published on the on BBC web site and this is has more of a pressing importance than the development?
Mark Williams clarified that the BBC figures relating the previous Wrexham AFC company that went into administration and not the current Wrexham FC 2006 Ltd. Mark Williams stated he could not confirm how much is owed today as the only accounts published relating to the end of May 2007.
Phil Egan: Why there is a big difference between the capacities of the two stands between the Trust and the club?
Nick Stockdale stated that building in high densities means it will cost more. If you went down that route it could negate any possible grants you would be able to obtain. You could look at a similar two tier stand like West Ham Similar. It is not impossible but it would not make sense for the football club to build this type of stand in view of the land available at the Racecourse. That type on construction will also reduce availability for additional commercial and community activities as the foot print will be taken up with the construction of the seating area.
Peter Youd: Has Geoff Moss put in £4.5m into the club and does it include any interest he is charging?
NS confirmed initial loan of £3.5m on the exit of administration but it is important to distinguish between donating the money (never receiving it back) or loaning the money.
Mark Williams also confirmed it would be normal practice to charge interest and the notes to the published accounts confirmed how much would be charged.
Nick Stockdale also stated the trust has not made a donation as it is likely that the £4.5 million has been loaned and our money should be treated in the same way.
Alan Harris: Why have we not had the response back from the club that we should have had?
Lindsay Jones stated that Geoff Moss is a successful business man and he built his company and sold it for a lot of money and is used to doing things his own way. He came to a club like Wrexham and there is a high level of scrutiny on what you are doing due to our recent troubles. He has found that difficult to deal with.
Lindsay Jones also referred to the rapport David Acland had with supporters when he appeared our many of our public meetings.
Matters have turned round on the pitch but since exiting administration, we have been relegated from the league, debt increased, 3 sided ground and no road map back to a proper stadium. It has been a difficult time for the club. A lot of the issues might be resolved if the club did an open meeting like tonight and answer all the questions that you are asking.
Nick Jones: Is the planning committee made up of councillors? If so, How many and How are they aware of the potential of the Opportunity Strips?
Nick Stockdale confirmed yes to the first question and he believed the planning commitee is made up of 16 members. Nick Stockdale also confirmed that the Trust board have been discussing how to handle the issue of the opportunity strips. The Trust board has to consider the requirement for the development and also what we would want as council tax rate payers. He confirmed that the Trust will write to each Councillor individually. Nick Stockdale also stated that the section 106 drafted last week could possibly give the Council more options to negotiate with.
Dave Davies: When is the Date of planning meeting?
Nick Stockdale stated that we dont know date but we have believe it will be April. They normally announce it a week before the actual date. Nick Stockdale that Health and Safety issues in relation to the Yale Stand have delayed matters due to the complex nature of the development.
Ian Phillips: Pictures in the Evening Leader, looks fantastic, Dean Saunders said he trusts the Chairman. People view us are deliberately objecting to them. How do we communicate our concerns in a positive light to the wider public. How do we improve our PR?
Nick Stockdale stated that this is a very good question, especially since the Club are now employing a PR agency.
Nick Stockdale also went on to to state that we feel it would be best practice for the club to enter into any safeguards suggested by Geoff Moss in a written document and that it would be difficult to achieve this without being viewed as trouble makers.
Nick Stockdale also felt that the PR issue is a weakness on our part and is something that we need to improve on. Our strategy is to refrain from any personal comments on the owner and prospective owners, and always stick to the facts.
Nick Stockdale also asked for anybody present to assist if they have any PR expertise and that. Sometimes, we are viewed as power hungry but this is not our intention. The board of WST want to see the club run by people with the appropriate skills.
Kevin Rye: Difficult for trusts to manage the PR agenda when developments and change in ownership is proposed. There are no other trust that SD talk about in a more positive light than Wrexham. We do not shrug our shoulders and we always ask questions. If the trust is on a power trip it is a hell of along time to have a power trip - five years.
I would disagree to a large extent on the issue of PR. Would encourage us to carry on what we will doing. The owners will realise one day it would be best to sit down and talk to us, not be scared and tap into the knowledge of the board, but also the members and general fans.
Kevin Rye is a representative of Supporters Direct
*Round of applause.*
Scott Moreton: Were ransom strips involved in the building of the Mold Road stands?
Lindsay Jones stated that we were not aware of any. Lindsay added that their has been a recent Government initiative that Councils should register all ransom strips. He also added that the Council was the prime reason the Mold Road stand being built as it was required for the Rugby World Cup, and the
Spencer Harris requested feedback on the meeting and our approach and suggestions where we go next.
Cllr Phill Wynn: I am a local councillor for the area with residents. We all want to see the club move on, it is crucial that the flats are available August 2010 and it is crucial that the planning application goes through. Would the Board be happy if the club reviewed foot print, council enforced s 106, and that my own initial investigations reveal that the ransom strips are not as clear cut?
Nick Stockdale reiterated the three points we made in the presentation and that the devil is in the detail to the clubs statement. There must be an enforceable financial documentation. Not a clear answer but we need to see something that delivers the best for the club. The profit should be ring fenced, the Welsh Assembly makes noises about funding but the club cannot deliver the stand as they do not own all the land required for phase 2 and phase 3 does not start until phase 2 has been completed. Maybe we have to wait longer to solve this once and for all
Cllr Phil Wynn: Everybody shares the same opinions, water tight and no loop holes.
Steve Parry: Has anybody from Wrexham FC been invited to the meeting tonight?
Nick Stockdale stated that the Board discussed and came to the conclusion of no. The reason is that we have attempted to meet them privately and publicly. If we invited the club it would not be a constructive meeting. This meeting was for us to present our views and receive your feedback. If the club want to come here and tell us, they can do, there is nothing stopping them. We were pleased about the statement last week and if the club came to us in public and made a presentation showing everything is fine, we would be happy.
Nick Stockdale said we would release the minutes of this meeting and ask for a meeting with the club to discuss the statement released last week.
Phil Clare: If the club do not want to listen, can they just go ahead and do what they want?
Nick Stockdale stated that they can and that it is probably a valid planning application. Some of the local councillors may not like parking ratio but it meets national guidelines. Phase 1 gets consented and clubs debt is largely paid off and it is then conjecture if phase 2 or 3 will happen for the reasons I previously stated. We believe the existing flood lights would remain but you could possible apply to have temporary lights erected.
Phil Clare: Do we know anything about the other developers?
Nick Stockdale confirmed the other directors are Paul Atkinson, Paul Retout, Patrick Kearns and Ian Roberts but we do not know much about them.
Dave Davies: Thanks for presenting the meeting in a professional matter. Delighted about the solidarity in the board between the trust and groups. Regarding PR - the best way to win the battle is the truth and look forward to meeting the directors face the fans at the meeting.
Meeting closed at 21:50 with a round of applause.