The latest Member’s meeting took place at the Lager Club on Monday night the 19th May 2014 and was streamed live on the internet.
Members of the Trust Board, including those who also sit on the Football Club Board, were in attendance. Chairman Peter Jones introduced Board members and the meeting warmly applauded the good work of former Trust Board member Huw Davies who had recently stepped down from the role.
Glyndwr Wrexham Football Academy
The centrepiece of the meeting was a presentation by Trust and Football Club director Gavin Jones following the recent launch of the Glyndwr Wrexham Football Academy.
The Academy is a partnership between the University, the Football Club, the Professional Footballers Association and the League Football Education. The Academy will allow professional footballers to study for a degree at the University while training and playing for Wrexham FC or a partnership club based in the Welsh football league or Conference North
Led by Adam Owen and Lee Jones and run by WFC Centre of Excellence staff with input from Kevin Wilkin and Barry Horne, the scheme will provide a unique opportunity for up to 24 players per year released from their clubs within the Premier League and Football League structure to study whilst still playing and training within a full time professional football environment.
Gavin explained that the scheme would be a pathway (mainly for young players released from Premier and Football League academies) to the Wrexham first team or to partnership clubs in the Welsh Premier, Conference North or Lex. Following selection, and providing they met the academic requirements and a rigorous medical and fitness test, the players would receive financial support from the PFA, student loans and a small bursary from the Club and University. Their studies would be arranged around training with the first team or scholars at the Club depending on their ability. Additional reserve games were planned to ensure sufficient competitive matches along with placements at partnership clubs.
Staff from the Club had attended exit trials at professional clubs all over the country to view the many youngsters who are realised from academies every year. Over 350 players had been seen and given the opportunity to view the promotional material about the Glyndwr Wrexham Football Academy. So far 80 had registered an interest. There will be competitive trials at Wrexham to select the final 20-24.
Gavin felt this will provide a competitive advantage to Wrexham FC.
In response to questions Gavin said:
That the age range would mainly be 18-21 but that older players could apply
That the Club would hold their registration and benefit from any transfer fees
That our close relationship with Glyndwr and the proximity of the facilities provided an advantage over other clubs
That the Welsh FA had not played a role in the scheme
That timing needs to be considered as the University may not be issuing offers until after pre season training starts but we aimed to include the successful applicants in pre-season training
The scheme would not impact on the managers playing budget as, apart from a small bursary, the scheme was self-financing and additional to the playing budget. If any entrant was of the required standard they could train with and be part of the first team squad. That was the manager’s decision.
That the scheme would have a positive impact on the current youth system. Some entrants would play alongside current scholars and help raise standards. Those scholars were also eligible to apply for the scheme.
Board members took a series of questions from the floor.
Football Club membership
Peter Jones, Chairman, explained why the meeting had been advertised as a Football Club Member’s meeting. The Trust Board had been working on a new strategic plan for presentation at the forthcoming AGM. That included bringing the Trust and Club even closer together. Trust members owned the Club. We were all shareholders and would be better described as Football Club members. The Board had also decided to realign everyone’s renewal dates – see later
Trust and Football Club Board member Spencer Harris said that the Club will budget for an average home attendance of 3,200 next season. So far 307 season tickets had been sold which was behind last years but we had started selling earlier this year and the brochure had not yet been delivered to everyone.
When asked about the playing budget, Spencer said that the Club never disclosed the actual amount for commercial reasons but it would be of the same order of magnitude as last season -which was higher than the season before last.
When asked about the signing of players, Spencer said that Kevin Wilkin was returning from holiday shortly and that he had spoken to a number of targets who were considering their options and we were where he expected us to be at this stage.
When asked about the development of the Racecourse, the Board said that the work would benefit the club in terms of an improved playing surface, changing rooms, medical rooms, floodlights, referees room and drug testing room which would meet Football League requirements and international standards. Funding had come from the Ground Improvement Fund, Glyndwr University, the Crusaders, the Welsh FA and the Club. The costs of £300,000 would cover the work.
When asked about the new 150th anniversary shirt being a limited edition, Peter Jones said that there would be sufficient supplies to meet demand. The away shirt would be white with black trim.
When asked about the price of season tickets Spencer explained the Clubs aim to consider value for money as well as fairness and equality. Ours were not the most expensive in the Conference. The concessionary rates would apply to those 62 years of age rather than starting at 60. However, anyone who had benefited from the concession last season would be able to do so this season as well.
Peter explained that in the past the Trust and Club had operated two different databases of members and season ticket holder details. Work had taken place to migrate to one system which meant that we will amend memberships so that all expire in June each year. To move to the new scheme, we will be changing the current method of different renewal dates throughout the year and members will now have a season membership running from the 1st June to the 31st May every year. Renewal letters had been sent explaining the changes and that all members should renew now.
Own your piece of the Racecourse turf
Trust Board member Robin Wiggs (media and communications) explained that shortly before the machines moved in to remove the turf from the Racecourse this afternoon; ground staff removed the most significant portions and passed them to the Trust as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations.
The saved areas of the pitch will be divided into 150 small sections and will be sold to fans and supporters over the next couple of weeks. A numbered certificate of authenticity will be included with each piece of turf.
The sections for sale include the four corners, centre spot and penalty spots. All the proceeds of the sale will be dedicated towards funding the new viewing platforms for disabled fans at the Racecourse. There are special plans for one piece of the pitch. The spot where Mickey Thomas placed the ball and scored from that free kick against Arsenal in 1992 will be the prize in an anniversary raffle. But not before it has travelled to the top of Snowdon this year as part of the fans mass walk with supporter’s trusts from around the country. A special free kick will be taken from the top of Snowdon with the ball placed on this piece of grass, followed by the drawing of the raffle. Every fan who joins the Snowdon walk will receive a free raffle ticket. Details of how to buy a small section of pitch, as well as how to buy raffle tickets will be circulated to members and posted online shortly.
Independent Secretary Alan Fox informed the meeting that the closing date for nominations for the Trust Board elections had now passed. Based on the Rules which required a certain proportion of the Board to step down every year and the fact that elected Board members can only serve for three years before having to seek re-election, there were five vacancies after the AGM. Nominations had been received for Spencer Harris, Peter Howell, Gavin Jones. Peter Jones, John Mills, Stuart Roberts, Richard Ulrich and Robin Wiggs. Their candidate’s statements will be published on the website shortly. Voting would be online or by postal ballot. The election is being overseen by an election management group comprising of Alan Fox, Clive Popplewell and Derrick Moore (secretary of the AFC Telford Supporters Trust).
Alan informed the meeting that the Trust was supporting the nomination of Michael Frater (chair of AFC Telford Supporters Trust) in his bid to win a seat on the national governing body of Supporters Direct.
Alan mentioned the Trusts response to the FA Commissions proposals for B Teams and feeder clubs which we strongly opposed. There was a national online petition organised by Against League 3 which members were asked to consider signing.
Trust Board member Anita Robinson (volunteers) confirmed that we were always on the lookout for additional volunteers. There were a number of summer events at which the Trust would have a presence. The annual Snowdon walk would take place on Sunday 29th June with all proceeds going to the playing budget. We needed 150 Wrexham fans to take part and some 25-30 other clubs had so far agreed to take part too. Kevin Wilkin will be making the trek.
Trust Board member Geoff Scott (fundraising) thanked the five people who had taken part in the recent Sky Dive raising about £1000 including Board members Anita Robinson and Peter Howell (fundraising). Geoff recognised that we were often seeking money from the same pool of supporters and would look to vary future events. He said that he was planning to put together a small sub group to look at improving the match day experience by organising events at certain games. He needed people to submit ideas and for people to step forward to help deliver them.
Members are reminded that the Trust AGM will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday 26th June 2014 at the Centenary Club.
WST Independent Secretary