Open Meeting Report
The Brakes Trust thanks the Leamington FC board for the Open Meeting in response to our letter last month, and is encouraged by the agreements both ways for better communication and attendance at each other’s meetings.
Additionally we will shortly engage with Brakes fans with regard to the memorabilia issue and look at other ways of working together. We would also welcome more open meetings on a regular basis since this was an informative and positive event.
Present Brakes Trust board members were Nick Rogers, Peter Davis and Tom O’Connell, plus Secretary Nick Hallworth.
Here are our notes from the meeting…
For Leamington FC board…
JS welcomed those present and explained the meeting was called in response to the open letter from the Brakes Trust.
1. Clubhouse Bar
GM explained that it had been the intention to replace some of the memorabilia with rolling displays, but due to time constraints this had not happened yet. KW is also working on a new website.
There were several comments from the floor that the history has to be replaced since it currently looks very bland. The club board agreed and things will be put back up. Andrew Calcutt suggested 5/6 articles from a number of eras and KW agreed, suggesting a Trust poll on what to do. The Trust agreed.
From the floor: Part of the problem is communication. In response KW said he sought a volunteer to produce a newsletter.
PD queried whether if low cost but decent furniture could be sourced, would there be any objection to bringing it in, and if needed to fundraise for it. This was broadly accepted except for the need to be mindful of the main room’s multiple uses, there being nowhere to move furniture to.
Usage of the clubhouse was queried and KW explained that there was other usage including British Gas four times a month for example.
2. Ground Situation
RD presented an update on the potential ground move, listing professional advisors who are helping the club as well as highlighting that meetings with the council were bi-weekly.
RD is currently working on securing agreements from third parties which would fund the proposed new stadium build. These enabling agreements may potentially be with a hotel chain, nursery and retail outlets.
Some parties have already agreed amounts of money. Some plans have changed in the last few months, partly due to the Govt inspector overturning two planning refusals south of Warwick, but this actually helps the proposed Gallows Hill plans.
The current status is to produce a fully costed proposal. Once agreed with the council and shareholders the club would produce a specification for the stadium build. Proposed costs are £3.5m for a similar standard to the NWG.
The allocated land is just over 3 hectares, with the club planning to use 2 hectares for the stadium and the remainder to sell for the enabling developments.
Timescales and costings for moving were queried. It was reasserted that the ground would be exclusive to Leamington FC and that supporter/Trust involvement would happen when a viable business plan was in place and approved by the council.
3. First Team
JS read the Trust’s letter and stated that the club board has discussions on the team in private at their monthly meetings. Questions were invited from the floor.
What do you feel is the reason for the drop in attendances?
RD- A combination of results, league position, style of play. We are aware of that as a board.
JS explained that Paul Holleran had wanted to make changes before Christmas; he had been after Austin for some time, and Baker-Richardson also, who had been injured. We also have a tight budget and a one-in, one-out policy.
From the floor Peter Davis described how he has seen the damage to the attendances and the fans, like the club board, are worried. Something had to be said. PD continued that the club has to get an ethos back, and listed the summer events at which the Trust promotes the club in the community.
JS acknowledged that there are communication issues and expressed that the club board were extremely disappointed in the Trust’s letter being public. Nic Sproul was also upset that his name had been omitted from the letter and Peter Davis apologised for this. JS reaffirmed that discussions with the manager will remain private but that the club had already been thinking of holding an open meeting.
Style of play was further criticised from the floor, although recent performances have lifted somewhat. The club board are very aware of terrace views and won’t back away from difficult decisions.
From the floor: Is there anyone from the Trust on the club board?
JS- No. The Trust has done a very good job on the community side and there have been lots of positives. However the Trust is not interested in fundraising (Nick Rogers disagreed vociferously), raising around £4K in 6 years.
As a route to improving communication and working together, JS proposed that one board member each from the club and Trust would start to attend the first half hour of each body’s meetings. This would be a starting point.