Are we still talking to potential investors?
Steve stated that since January 2018 have spoken to nine or ten people or groups who have passed the first stage of demonstrating that they were able to show interest in investing in the club. Of these, a couple have gone a long way but not happened, particularly one guy based in Spain. We are still talking to two serious options and very hopeful one will get across the line.
Steve added that we are having to kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince. Until the deal is signed nothing is definite.
If we don't get investment are we looking at every penny through the season?
Steve stated that funds are going to be tight. He is very grateful for volunteers helping out, but that we are looking at every penny, tightening our belt as appropriate, and looking at budgets continually. The club have not raised as much money as would be hoped yet through donations and season tickets were down a little, but the gate held up on Tuesday which is encouraging and therefore match day takings could be up if that continues.
What is the status of the club asking for donations?
Steve stated that we are short of the target for donations and are also looking at raising money in different ways. There is a Sportsmanís dinner arranged and other events like the quiz nights etc. There is lots of work being done behind the scenes, mostly being done by volunteers free of charge.
On sponsorship: West & Coe have renewed, and Steve is very grateful. A13 Steel and Blackmore are in longer term deals. Coventry University are a new sleeve sponsor, with boards going up in the ground shortly. All help is gratefully received.
A question was asked on undisclosed transfers and the Morgan Ferrier situation at Boreham Wood. As all of our transfers seem to be undisclosed, should the club let supporters know what is coming in, particularly as we are also asking for donations?
Steve explained that undisclosed fees are a norm at our level of football. He knows it is frustrating but itís a fact of life. He added that the initial bid for Michael Cheek for instance was made under the strict condition that it was confidential. As it was we managed to negotiate it up to three times the initial offer, however the terms of the transfer are still confidential.
With Ferrier, it was Boreham Wood that disclosed that the fee was £18k with an additional £5k for them making the play off final, but this was also made confidential by them originally. We do have a sell on and are waiting to hear what the deal between Boreham Wood and Walsall was.
As a follow up to this, it was stated that figure of what has been donated has not been updated.
Steve stated that this was not the case, and the figure was updated last week at the club website.
Supporters Club accounts includes a £2500 donation to West Ham, what is that about?
Steve said that was a question for the Supporters Club, as we don't run their accounts. He did however state that they did cover expenses on the night, for instance stewarding etc., and that the club was very grateful for this. It was confirmed that West Ham did not charge us anything at all, but there are expenses involved in putting on a match like that.
We haven't seen what was made out of the West Ham game?
Steve said that the accounts are at the auditors at present. but did say that the night raised a profit to the club of about £50k. He added that he was very grateful to West Ham for their help and that the money helped us survive the season.
Barnet moving to a digital programme, not a physical programme, would we consider that?
Steve said that this was discussed at a National League meeting in the summer. Barnet have decided to go digital, and he believes Boreham Wood produce a printed programme and also mail it out electronically afterwards. This is not something we are considering at the moment as we do make a small profit on the programmes over the year and Steve believes it would affect advertising revenue.
It was noted that on Tuesday there were Maidstone fans accomodated on the home terrace in the North Stand, why was that?
Steve stated that National League regulations are that we have to offer terrace accomodation to away fans if we have it for home support, or offer seating at the same cost if not.
He added that what we don't want to do is reconfigure the ground week on week.
To the suggestion that we give away fans Bury Road, however this won't work due to gates, as people just won't walk round to the Bury Road gates to get in to the North Stand (Sieve), and also those that stand on the Bury Road terrace on a regular basis will be upset.
Steve said that If we were starting from scratch the ground would not be configured as it is, but it has evolved and options are limited as a result, but it is what it is.
We have engaged with an "agent" to promote the club to potential investors. How much have we spent on this?
Steve said that the cost to us was nothing. The agent will make commission from the buyers if they introduce someone that buys. We did spend about £2,500 on promotional materials for the club last year.
Why are we in the financial position we are? Why was there not a contract to stop Hopkin pulling out?
Steve stated that the agreement was that Hopkin paid £1m for his majority shareholding and that he had fulfilled this commitment. However he then committed to further investment to fund, in particular, playing staff. This is not unusual at our level where teams are bankrolled by the owner.
Steve went on to add that you don't expect someone that has invested £1m to then pull out as he did, but he did. That left us in the financial hole we are in, as commitments he had made to the budget going forward were then unfunded.
What is Glyn Hopkin's status in the club now?
Steve stated that Glyn resigned as a director in January, but is still a major shareholder. He funded wages in April 2018, and Steve still talks to him on a fairly regular basis, but he is not involved in any way in how the football club is run now.
He is likely to be willing to give up his shareholding should the club find a new investor. The details of how that would work cannot be stated until the situation arises where we have someone willing to invest.
Why will anybody be interested in investing in the club when we are bottom half of the league?
Steve stated that a potential buyer is investing in potential. We have been a Football League club for nine seasons, and we have a designated ground. If you look at what Billericay are having to spend on the ground to bring it up to standard even for the National League it is very expensive. We have none of those issues, with enough seating, CCTV, turnstiles, floodlighting, and changing facilities etc. That is a massive opportunity.
What sell on clauses do we have in place on players transferred out?
Steve stated that we have sell on clauses in all our contracts, and that these range between 15% and 20%, but it is on the profit, not the total fee of a sale by the current club.
He added that we also put in the same clause on any sell on that the buying club get. That worked very well when Peterborough got income from Dwight Gayle moving on from Palace to Newcastle.
He stated that we "sold" our sell on options on Christian Doidge and Jodi Jones last season to fund the club to survive. This was a disappointing decision to have to make, but had the club gone under those options would have been worthless anyway.
Are West Ham using our ground this season?
Steve said that we have a three season agreement with West Ham and that it is the U23 Premier League fixtures that are played at our ground, not the Academy fixtures.
Will there be another West Ham fund raising game?
Steve said that there is nothing planned, and added that these things are very hard to organise and fit in to a busy fixture list. The U23s are committed to using the ground and they pay towards the upkeep of the pitch and a fee for the usage as part of that agreement.
Are we going to go part time next season?
Steve stated that this is not the plan, and that we are hopeful that we will remain a professional club next season if it is at all possible.
Can we advertise the club better?
Steve stated that we try to get the message out as many ways as possible. We have 30,000 twitter followers and are doing what we can to get the message out via social media.
He added that he was are picking up full season fixture posters on the Friday and also produce posters every three home games that get distributed to local pubs, clubs and shops. We have a full page ad in local papers. If anyone wants to help distribute the posters they are available in the club shop please come and grab them.
He added that we are still looking for a few more kit sponsors, and also we have the Sportsmanís dinner with Peter Taylor at the end of September. Please support all these things if you can.