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Daggers change of ownership: should we...

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Next Match

03 October 2020
FC Halifax Town
Vanarama National League 

Last Match

15 September 2020
Won 6-0

     On This Day

In 1993,The Daggers beat Telford United 4-1 at Home in the GM Vauxhall Conference 

In 1995,The Daggers lost 0-3 to Slough Town at Home in the Conference League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg

In 1999,The Daggers beat AFC Sudbury 2-1  Away in the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

In 2004,The Daggers lost 0-4 to Aldershot Town Away in the Nationwide Conference 

In 2010,The Daggers lost 0-3 to Bristol Rovers at Home in the NPower League One 

In 2012,The Daggers lost 0-1 to Northampton Town at Home in the NPower League Two 



Club for sale!

Steve Thompson Interview
by Hardy on 28/10/2016

In the latest in a series of interviews with the key people in the current takeover, DiggerDagger talks to D&RFC Managing Director Steve Thompson.

Steve Thompson Interview

Following on from the earlier interviews with John and Brian East, ex chairman Dave Bennett, and Glenn Tamplin DiggerDagger was given the opportunity to speak to Daggers MD Steve Thompson.

We met in the City after Steve spent the morning with the club lawyers putting in place the changes to the structure of the club following the vote at the EGM held on 17th October.

Steve pointed out that the process would take a couple of months to complete and, in the words of Theresa May, that he can't give a running commentary on it, but will keep people as informed as he can going forward.

The Finances

We started with the key question that DiggerDagger has been banging on about for months.

What actually are the state of the club finances?

Steve made it clear that the club is putting a team on the pitch that it can't really afford as a result of the assumption that there would be investment coming in.

"We started the season with a team we couldn't afford, but by that point we had been talking about getting investment in since April and it was a pretty much a foregone conclusion that we would do so. Otherwise we would have had to plan to be heading back to part time football and cutting our cloth accordingly, at which time the option of attracting further investment would be gone."

"We were in a position where we could not plan to compete as a National League or League Two team as things stood without additional money coming in. Since then Glenn Tamplin has put in additional funds to cover the wages of the new signings and off the field staff, which he is paying on a monthly basis. You can see the result of that on the field."

And is the extra money guaranteed whatever happens?

"Glenn has stated that he will continue to pay the extra money he has committed to should he not take over. That isn't in writing but it is an agreement and was what he told you previously when interviewed."

What are the details of the parachute payment?

Steve told us, "The parachute payment is 470,000 over the season and is paid in monthly installments, which mirrors the way the Football League makes it's payments to clubs and has done for six or seven years. Next year it halves, then it is gone completely, but it is not a lump sum and it is factored into the spending forecasts."

So how much has the fact that we are expecting investment changed the forecast spending?

Steve told me that the club was spending between 300,000 and 400,000 over what he had forecast originally for the current season. After a sharp intake of breath DiggerDagger asked the obvious follow up question.

Why has the club been behaving as if it is cash rich when it isn't unless it secures the investment?

"In order to put a competitive, full time football team on the pitch we have had to do that. Both the Tamplin and the East Consortiums were basing their plans on the assumption that we would get back up to the Football League in the next two or three seasons. In order to do that we had to start with a competitive team, otherwise we were not ever going to get back up, and then the option for investment would disappear. It was a collective Board decision to move forward on that basis."

The Members...?

How many Full and Life Members do we have?

"We have seventy, so twenty one chose not to attend or send in a proxy."

How many new members have we taken on in the last five years?

"Probably about half a dozen. Out of seventy that is a big percentage though."

And is it true that they are mostly West & Coe's target audience?

Steve laughed at this one. "We have tried to attract more people to be Members over the years but it hasn't had a huge take up. Each season we have a game that is effectively sponsored by the Members when they get invited to attend a game and have hospitality. They pay for their lunch but the rest is free. At that game every season, except this one for obvious reasons, we put the details regarding becoming a member in the programme, and encourage people to apply."

So why not send details out with the season tickets?

"We haven't done that and it is something to think about maybe, but if people wanted to be Members it is not difficult to find out what is needed. I'm a bit annoyed at people moaning about not being Members now it suddenly matters having allowed the people that have been committed enough to get involved previously."

We discussed this further and agreed that your correspondent was one of the moaners but what is done is done!

What actually happened at the meeting on the 17th?

Were you asked to present a full financial statement at the EGM?

"No I wasn't. I gave a statement similar to what I have told you here regarding the general state of the club financially, but was not asked to give additional information beyond this."

"The Members get full accounts annually and these cover everything, all expenditure and income. It is much more detailed than the ones publically available at Companies House and when we were audited by the FA a few years ago they were very impressed by the level of detail included. The Board members and other club officers get a monthly statement and forecast as well. These went to the Easts and Gerry Hanning while he was a board member and they could see what was coming the same as everyone else could."

At this point Steve opened up his iPad and showed me what accounts he produces and goes to the Members annually above and beyond the balance sheet information that goes to Companies House, and also the monthly statement and forecast that goes to the board. DiggerDagger was reassured to see that both are very thorough and detailed, and it shows that the club has a good handle on what it's income and expediture is at any point in time.

He went on, "The Members have this level of detail and are not stupid, they know the club has been run on sale of players and donations for years. They didn't need to hear it again."

And did Glenn Tamplin stop this part of the discussion?

Steve told us that, "As I recall it Glenn suggested that we were not discussing the past we should concentrate on the future of the club."

What of the criticism that there was no option to vote against?

"Because of the late withdrawal by the Easts, the ballot was set up as it was. We made it clear at the meeting that an abstention was effectively a vote against, and the vote went as it did."

He went on, "This is not the end of the process, we now have some complicated and expensive legal work to undertake. The club needs to obtain a 'Scheme of Arrangement' before we have a second meeting at which the Members will be offered a vote or 'For', 'Against' or an abstention. We will need to carry a 75% majority at that one to complete the process."

Steve went on to explain the legal process, which is complicated by there being no process in company law to change a company 'limited by guarantee' into an ordinary company with shareholders, and told me that this covered the various tax issues that might arise.

He added that "John East told me what was planned would work and was actually a very clever solution to the problem."

What happens at the next meeting if you lose the vote?

Steve told us, "If we don't get new investment then drastic changes will have to be made. We hope that the second vote will be a formality as we have won the first vote with a similar majority to that we will need, and the Members understand the position and hopefully they know this is the right way to go."

"If the vote went against the Board it would be a disaster, and I believe that the Members are totally aware of this. I am hoping that the twelve people that voted against the change on the 17th accept that this is the will of the majority and in the best interests of the club and either vote for the motion or abstain next time round."

And how likely is that?

Steve stated "Everyone that has a vote at the next meeting is there because they care deeply about Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club. I don't believe that there is anyone that is cynical enough to force this vote to fail, which would be very unfortunate, and indeed dangerous for the club now we have got this far."

He continued, "I hope that those that don't like what we are doing register that with an abstention and leave the club to move forward with 100% backing of the rest."

Regarding his position...

Do you feel that you should have resigned over the conflict of interest as you are part of the Tamplin consortium as Dave Bennett has?

"I can't say I have not considered it, however I actually only became part of the consortium very late on in part to address concerns we were getting from the Members to dilute the shareholding. Throughout the process I have tried hard to do the best for the Members, it was me that suggested for a place on the board for the Members in both bids and an increased shareholding in the Tamplin bid for Members for instance."

"Also, I run the club on a day to day basis, and it is pretty clear that if I wasn't there it would be very challenging. That could be taken as a negative about me, but we are not unlike many small companies in that key individuals are very difficult to replace. If I stepped away now, the club would really struggle to continue to run smoothly."

Steve went on, "I've worked really hard over the last 20 years to get the club where it is, and I am making sure that I run all key decisions past Paul Gwinn and the Company Secretary to ensure that things are done in the open and for the right reasons."

And the personal abuse you have taken?

Steve was quite upset at some of the things he has been accused of doing.

"I have been very hurt by the criticism that I have received in trying my hardest to do the best for the club, and the Members. The personal abuse at Solihull in particular was totally out of order. What Dave Bennett and I had to suffer that day was awful to take. To then have people deny it had happened was also very poor. Those people know who they are and I think it's a very sad reflection on everyone involved."

He knows that there is a sizable group that he has upset over the years. "You can't do what suits everyone all the time. We have had to modernise the club and change the way things work. I had to move the club shop and programme shop to where it is accessible to people other than those on the home terracing for instance. That just makes sense."

And finally...

If you had your time over would you offer Wayne Burnett a second two year contract?

Steve told me it wasn't his decision. "It was a collective board decision, the vote was 7 to 1 with 1 abstention. In hindsight it wasn't the best decision but hindsight is like that. It was terrible that we just could not win a home game and in the end the position was untenable."

He went on. "The basis of the decision was sound. I was told a long time ago that you judge a football manager on whether he adds value to you. We had one of the two smallest budgets in the Football League and despite that finished in mid table in League Two for the previous two seasons. That is adding value."

With DiggerDagger pointing out "we told you so" on that one, we headed our different ways for the afternoon, before watching the Daggers beat Aldershot Town that evening to retain 2nd spot in the National League.

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