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Wrexham AFC Limited- AGM And WST Members Meeting Report

wfc1864wstmediumWrexham AFC Limited- Annual General Meeting

And WST Members Meeting

Catrin Finch Centre Glyndwr University

1930 Thursday 28th November 2013

 

 

 

Minutes

Board members present:

Wrexham FC Board of Directors -John Mills (also Trust Board), Spencer Harris (also Trust Board), Mark Williams (also Trust Board), Barry Horne, Don Bircham (Club CEO)

WST Society Board  - Peter Jones, Terry Stott, , Huw Davies, Alan Fox, Jenny Cantwell, Anita Robinson, Peter Howell, Robin Wiggs

Apologies from- Gavin Jones, Tom Stanford, Keith Roberts, Alan Watkins, Dave Jones, Geoff Scott

1 Welcome and Introductions

Peter Jones, WST Chairman, welcomed those present and opened the meeting before a large audience of WST members and explained that the proceedings would consist of the secondannual general meeting of Wrexham AFC Limited to be followed by a WST members meeting. 

Peter reminded members that we were about to reach the milestone of the second full year of fans ownership of the club and the club had made great strides to achieve financial stability. The last 12 months had been a memorable with some highs and lows not least two visits to Wembley within a few weeks that had seen the club win silverware, but, also sadly fall at the final hurdle in our quest to return to the football league.  He also congratulated the Youth team for winning the Football League Youth Alliance League despite being pitted against football league clubs and their greater funding.  Peter explained that as well as a detailed financial presentation members would hear an update of the Club’s branding project and plans for the forthcoming 150th anniversary and would have the opportunity to question board members.

2 Approval of minutes from the first annual general meeting

The minutes of the Club AGM of 24th January 2013 were provided to those in attendance and had been made available on the WST website. Proposed by Paul Evans and seconded by Paul Jones, they were unanimously accepted by those who had been present.

 

3 Presentation of financial statements

The main part of the AGM consisted of the presentation of a detailed financial statement and accounts by Mark Williams (Finance director) who reiterated that although there was no legal requirement for a company our size to publish detailed financial statements (and few if any other clubs did so) the Board was keen to share as much information as they could with Trust members who were the clubs owners. Consequently full accounts were provided not simply a balance sheet.

Report of the directors and financial statements for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013

In addition to copies of the accounts made available on the night, they would also be accessible on the WST and Club websites shortly. What follows is a summary of a detailed presentation by Mark who explained that the accounts cover operations of the football club from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013. However, the 2012 figures only cover the seven month trading period between 30 November 2011 and 30 June 2012.

Profit and Loss Account

This year the profit and loss account is made up of the following three classifications of income and costs: Reoccurring: this is income that will occur each season e.g. league matches and basic player wages. Football fortune: these are income (less associated costs) that you cannot budget for e.g. cup runs, play offs and transfer income and Goodwill: the final write down of the liability we took on from the previous trading company.

The football club had a turnover of £2.3m and made a gross profit of £250,000. Up to April 2013 the club had made an operating profit of £2,000. Player contracts in June resulted in an overall operating loss of £184,000 against a budgeted loss of £198,000. The final write down of goodwill resulted in an overall net loss of £400,000. Goodwill relates to the purchase of the club. This will be the final time we refer to the latter category as all goodwill has been written down in these accounts.

The Club is now debt free.

Without the prize money, the early rounds of the FA Trophy are not very profitable. They come at the expense of two Saturday home matches – a home match can result in £25k of income when accounting for season tickets – and progress to the third round this year will result in two Saturday home matches being postponed. We did benefit from the FA Trophy final but the £300k from the final was not received until late April when the season had finished – so profit was good but there was a delay in receiving a cash flow benefit that the club had to carry.

Income and Expenditure

Gate receipts - The original budget was set to crowds of 3,800 but the average was 3,500 – in cash terms this was £140,000. The action we have taken here is to set this season budget at this level. The remaining pots were either in line with budget - but we sold 400 more season tickets to achieve – revenue or not budgeted for.

A breakdown of the Matchday and Commercial income was provided. The total variance to the budget is £155k. We announced at the WST AGM that we have reduced the budget to a more realistic level – ahead of what we achieved in 2012/13 – and we are on track to achieve the budget.

Football costs were provided. This covers players and management team wages. It also covers the following items- First team and training kit, Medical insurance and supplies, Players travel to away matches, Hotel/players accommodation and Coaching and scouting expenses.

A balance sheet was provided as at 30 June 2013. Called up share capital is the funds invested by Wrexham Supporters Trust namely £485,000.  Since the year-end date a further investment of £70,000 has been made in relation to the Club Shop.

Mark explained that this was the last time details of Goodwill would need to be presented. The majority was debt inherited when the Club was purchased which had been paid off during our two years of ownership.

Financial Summary

          Wrexham Supporters Trust has invested £485,000 to support the club since November 2011

          We have written down the net liability of £442,000 from the old company over the first two years of trading

          The only liability left from the old company is the longer term Football League pension and hire purchase

          All our liabilities outstanding at the financial year-end were traditional trade and crown creditors

          Wrexham Football Club is debt free for the first time in many years

4 Update on current financial position

Mark summarised performance compared against the budget approved in June this year up to and including October – our latest financial period. Although we are behind budget the majority of this is due to the phasing of home matches as we did not know the fixtures when we produced the budgets and based them on the previous season. Despite being a game behind the increased season ticket has absorbed this but gate receipts are behind overall. As far as Matchday income is concerned average attendances are 300 below our original budget when you exclude the Chester match. We have also incurred additional first team costs. We have supported the manager by providing wages to cover the injury crisis and have incurred additional medical consultant fees due to injuries.

5 Outturn forecast for current financial year

So with these facts known we have reflected actual performance and rolled this forward for the remainder of the season.  Having made key assumptions namely: average attendance of 3,200 for Saturday games and 2,500 for midweek, extra for the two bank holiday games, 3,150 for the season; Achieving commercial targets; Achieving Centre for Excellence income targets; Including the FA Cup Second Round income; No FA Trophy income; Running costs updated to reflect actual four months into the financial year our outturn is very close to budget (the estimated loss of £134k).  So in effect the cup run so far and player sales have offset the decreased matchday revenue, increased playing budget and increased medical costs.

In summary the business is improving. After some £500k in football fortune last season we made a loss of £185k.  This season we are forecasting to make a reduced loss with less football fortune income. However we have opportunities to improve on this in terms of crowd and cups.

The meeting thanked Mark for an excellent presentation and all his hard work. Mark then took questions from the floor.

6 Questions from the floor

A member asked why, for FA Trophy games, it was always the Yale Stand that was closed to home fans. Mark explained that away fans were seated in the Yale stand. At the pre-season friendly with Tranmere the Mold Road Stand was closed and everyone accommodated in the Yale stand but there was some disorder hence we had to keep the two stands open but costs are saved by restricting the Yale to away fans.

John Edwards asked about the number of boxes sold this season. Steve Cook explained that we were one down on last season due to one group purchasing seasons tickets instead. We had attracted a new consortium of two businesses for one box.

John Edwards asked about the payment of fines received for on field disciplinary offences. Don Bircham replied that the club had to pay an administration fee for every red and yellow card.  He confirmed that the board were very disappointed with our disciplinary record and had shared this with the management. The manager had the discretion to deduct player’s wages using a policy introduced by the board.

Chris Roberts asked about the TV deal with BT Sport and whether we had to sign up to it after Mark had explained that although the fee was higher than Premier Sports more people had access to BT Sport with a resulting decrease in attendances. Mark confirmed that this was negotiated by the Conference and we had no discretion as to when those games would be played.

Jim Wells congratulated the board on the balance sheet and was pleased with the transparency and asked when we would be “in the black”?  Mark replied that from now on any income we generated was ours to invest without having to pay off debt so if things went well this could be as early as next year.

Haydn Taylor asked whether the accounts could be made available before the meeting which was suggested last year. Mark replied that it was important to explain what the figures meant. He had met with the press shortly before the meeting to do so. The board would keep this under review.

John Connor asked how the £72,000 income for the televising of the forthcoming FA Cup match would be spent. Don Bircham replied that so far this season our financial “hits” have been the fee received for Bradley Reid and the FA Cup monies. The “misses” included lower gates and increases to the playing budget to support the manager by bringing in more bodies. This meant that our finances/budgets were on track although if the manager asked for more “we would never say never”.

  

7 Appointment of Auditors

The meeting agreed unanimously to the reappointment of McLintocks as our statutory auditors and Mark thanked Tim Mitchell for his assistance. Proposed by Mark Williams and seconded by Clive Popplewell

Part Two- Trust Members Meeting

The second half of the evening was taken up with a WST members meeting including a presentation from Andy Slinger a Trust member and season ticket holder which was an update to that he gave to the AGM in January. He had kindly agreed to assist the club (as a volunteer) to develop a Vision Statement for Wrexham FC that captures what we aspire to become and identify our purpose/mission, why do we exist and how we will deliver our vision.

8 Wrexham FC Brand vision- a summary

Andy explained that brand building had changed in recent times and was no longer just about advertising. Brand Alignment is the consistent delivery of a differentiating vision throughout an organisation, exciting people, customers and shareholders. It was a long journey and could sometimes unearth some uncomfortable truths.

Focus Group Findings

Andy had spoken to various “focus groups” including WST members, season ticket holders, lapsed season ticket holders and ‘big gamers’, the WST and Club Boards, Businesses and the COE. He had asked them all what they love about Wrexham Football Club, the role it plays in their life, how the Wrexham AFC experience feels and their vision of the future.  These are his findings:

A real club - There’s a universal acknowledgement that Wrexham has the atmosphere, passion and history of a ‘real’ football club. The people of Wrexham love football, but many of them have lost interest or been drawn towards greener grass over the last decade.  But, the fact that we play attractive football, represent half a nation, and are moving in the right direction means there’s an opportunity to win them back.

History- Whilst all clubs claim a unique history, the regular FA Cup runs and European adventures make Wrexham genuinely unique. WST ownership, and the struggles to keep the club afloat, are the latest chapter in the Wrexham story that people find attractive. Crucially, people want to celebrate our history whilst also looking forwards and being involved in the creation of new memories.

A reflection of who I am- For the most passionate supporters, Wrexham Football Club is a significant part of their identity. Following the club is a release from the day to day. It’s a constant in our lives; it’s reliable, rewarding and something you can always rely on. The success (or struggle) of the club is a reflection of their personal progress, and as such it means a lot

Family- People regularly talked about how the club felt like family to them. If we can genuinely and practically harness this passion, then we are on the brink of something extremely powerful.

Underdog- Supporters see Wrexham as a microcosm of Wales (or at least North and mid-Wales). The thought of the underdog, punching above its weight, refusing to be beaten aligns with the club’s history and is emotionally powerful. The WST model – dismissed by many outside the ‘family’ – is the latest proof of this, and supporters are ready to be galvanised, to be in the club’s corner.

North and Mid Wales -Many Wrexham supporters themselves come from well outside the traditional one-hour catchment area. They want Wrexham Football Club to once again be the light that draws in people from all over the nation. But this will only happen if we can make the club relevant to his wider audience, and explain what they get out of the relationship.

Community- for WST members, the Wrexham community is anything but soft and fluffy. It’s a source of passion and pride – something emotive and rich – and something that people want to get more involved with. But, most importantly, it’s something active and forward thinking, and needs a clear strategy driving it forwards

The more you put in, the more you get out - Those supporters who are most involved, are those who feel most rewarded by Trust ownership. Whilst the bad times hurt more, the good times are all the sweeter for the knowledge and satisfaction that you’ve contributed to them. This feel-good contribution feels like a strong motivator, and a total antithesis to the selfish, celebrity driven world we’re surrounded by.

Volunteering- Being actively involved in WAFC is a privilege, and more people want to do it, but they just don’t know how. However we broaden the volunteering base, we need to find ways to show our appreciation of people’s help. We should start with the name: a crucial signal that people’s contribution is vital and valued.

Entertainment- Whilst the club has a number of immediate financial challenges, we must never forget that we’re here to entertain. On-the-pitch success is clearly fundamental to this, but we need to work to develop a customer experience that is enjoyable regardless of results. In doing so, we can begin to make Saturdays at the Racecourse a habitual part of more people’s lives.

Creating Events People passionately love a big Wrexham day out. It’s an event that creates a buzz in the town. Rather than passively waiting for a big game to trigger this, we should be pulling together a plan for the forthcoming season to raise the profile of the club. By adding a range of other activities and entertainments, we can make ‘normal’ games more like a Wembley event, and draw in the database.

The Board taking ownership

Trust and Club Board member Spencer Harris then spoke how the Boards intended to take this forward. The last two years had been spent “firefighting”- extensively reorganising the club as a sustainable and well run business and implementing lots of essential processes. Now he said “came the fun part!” taking the business forward.

Positioning Statement

Spencer explained that the Board had considered the positioning of the Wrexham brand and had decided upon the following positioning statement:

“Through our pioneering, inclusive ownership model and friendly, entertaining match-day experience, we are the professional sporting club that gives the people of North Wales and the Marches the opportunity to celebrate their identity through passionate involvement in the club they love.

We are the club that unites half a nation...”

This is where we want to be. We have a potential fan base of 750,000 in people in North and Mid Wales. We have the potential to expand which many similar sized clubs do not.

Tone of Voice

Our personality should guide our tone of voice: the way we write and talk about Wrexham. We are Vibrant Positive and Inclusive. We are not Insipid, Pessimistic or Unrealistic or Cliquey.

Our Values

We have identified our Values which should guide what we do and how we act. They are:

Underdogedness- We embody a Welsh underdog spirit, but we’re never downtrodden. We fight for what we believe in, against all of the odds.

Pioneering -We set the standard for fan-owned football clubs and never stand still, always striving for ways to improve.

Wrex-citement-We create a positive family-friendly buzz that that fills you with Wrex-citement.

Do The Right Thing-At Wrexham, we do things the right way. We’re honest, transparent and treat everyone fairly, whether they’re a player, supporter or opponent.

Our Five Vision Drivers

Our Unique Wrex-perience -Creating an exciting, inspiring and entertaining pre, half time and post match-day experience

Passionate, Proud People -Creating a team of brand ambassadors who are empowered and spread the word throughout N Wales

A Future-Proofing Football Architecture -A structure and philosophy that defines ‘The Wrexham Way’, promoting on the field success

A Revenue-Boosting Business Architecture-The creation of additional revenue streams by utilising the unparalleled skills of our membership

Exciting, welcoming Communications -Internal and external communications that bring our brand to life, and attract the people of North Wales

Spencer then set out some ideas as to where these drivers could lead us. They included for example Creating Fan Zones in the town, Creating Events Markets, Stalls and Marquees, Brand Ambassadors Not Stewards, Skills Zone For Kids, Coordinated Flags and Colour, The importance of Wrex ..Meet, Greet, Keep.

Our future starts here!

9 Questions from the Floor

Spencer agreed with a comment that we should do more to promote the Welsh language as our key aim is represent “half a nation”.

Ian Jones asked whether the Trust could facilitate Welsh language learning courses. Spencer replied that as well as Glyndwr we had a partnership with Coleg Cambria who could assist if the take up was there. He confirmed that as well as two Welsh speakers on the Club Board there were a further two Welsh speakers on the Trust Board so the language was well represented on the Boards.

Ivor Williams said we needed to make more of our Welshness which Spencer said was “spot on” and was reflected in the branding project as was our important fan base in Shropshire.

Paul Evans said that grant funding was probably available. He also commented on the value of Wrex the dragon which should be used further afield. Another suit was being sought.

Alan Hughes said we were unique as the only potential Football League club in North and Mid Wales. Wembley proved we can attract people from further afield. Success on the pitch was key. Spencer replied that increasing revenues would enable us to sign better players.

Harry Thomas asked about the categorising of away games and whether we should do the same re charging some away fans more. Mark Williams replied that we needed to simply our ticketing and he preferred packages. In reply to the question about whether we should seek to represent a nation rather than half of it, Spencer said that may be an unrealistic ambition.

Phil Davies asked about the atmosphere at the ground and safe standing. Had we supported the FSF safe standing campaign and had we lobbied Glyndwr? Don Bircham replied that if finances ever allowed Glyndwr were to take some of these ideas when redeveloping the Kop. Peter Jones said we had supported the FSF.

John Edwards asked about grant funding. Spencer replied that some tentative meetings had taken place but were at a very early stage.

Mervyn Jones said that transport was an issue in attracting fans from North Wales and could we help with that. Spencer replied that Steve Cook had been researching this and Steve explained that he had been meeting with Arriva trains re reduced tickets from the coast and possibly tying this in with  a deal at Premier Inn.

10 The 150th Anniversary

Peter Jones described the events planned so far for next year’s 150th anniversary. Celebrations commence in January 2014 and will conclude at the end of season 2014/15. Only two other professional football clubs have celebrated this milestone in world football and confirms our status as the oldest club in Wales. A 150thAnniversary Committee had been formed made up of representatives from former players, Glyndwr University, Coleg Cambria, Wrexham Council, Wrexham Supporters Federation, Racecourse Community Foundation and Wrexham Supporters Trust.

Events highlights included:

January: Civic Reception and launch of Special Royal Mail 150th Anniversary Stamp

February: Former Players Dinner with Sweet

April: Legends Match and Player of the Season Dinner

May: Golf day

June: Snowdon Walk involving 150 supporters trusts to raise funds for their own clubs

July: Official launch of the 150th anniversary kit and four team tournament at the Racecourse Ground

August: Cricket match to recognise that the club was formed by members of Wrexham Cricket Club

September: Shropshire Reds 20th anniversary dinner

October:

          Royal Mail First Day Cover to be issued on 4th October

          Wrexham FC Race Day at Bangor-on-Dee

          Friendly match to recognise formation of football club

          Foundation plaque to be unveiled at the Turf, the birth place of Wrexham FC

November: 30th anniversary of famous win over FC Porto

End of season 2014/2015: Time capsule to be buried at the Racecourse and Gala Dinner Finale

Peter also unveiled the special 150th anniversary club badge for season 2014/15.

Christmas Raffle

Peter also mentioned the importance of the Christmas raffle as a key fundraiser. All members would be sent books. The first prize was a VW car and we needed everyone to do their bit.

There being no other business the meeting ended at 2210.

Alan Fox

WST Independent Secretary

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