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Trust and Club agree to appointment of interim FED

The Robins Trust is pleased to announce the appointment of Dave Beesley as interim Fan Elected Director.

We are also delighted to confirm that after constructive discussions with members of the Cheltenham Town board, Dave will be able to take up his post immediately.

That will ensure that the voice of the Robins Trust – and therefore that of the regular Cheltenham Town fan – is heard during the process for picking a new chairman for our Football Club.

The past month has seen an extraordinary set of circumstances conspire and led to a period of confusion and uncertainty for the Trust – and more importantly the role it plays.

After our former FED Murry Toms resigned, it was expected that the Trust could take its time and go through the detailed election process in full to appoint a new FED.

However, following Paul Baker’s decision to stand down as Cheltenham Town chairman after 21 fantastic years at the helm, the need to appoint a new FED became urgent.

In accordance with Trust rules, the appointment of an interim FED can be made by the Trust board and not the full membership but only on a short-term, interim basis.

The Trust board met for a scheduled monthly meeting last Thursday where Dave Beesley was the unanimous choice to take on the role.

Football Club vice-chairman David Bloxham and board member Clive Gowing attended that meeting after the Trust business was concluded and a consensus was reached about the next steps.

Following a meeting of the Cheltenham Town board on Friday, Dave Beesley’s appointment was approved and he will be welcomed to the next scheduled Cheltenham Town board meeting.

Trust chairman Dave Jennings said: “We had a full, frank and constructive meeting with both David Bloxham and Clive Gowing where both sides were able to speak freely about what comes next.

“We are pleased that they respected the Trust’s position that the FED role belongs to the Trust and not any individual and are delighted that they will be welcoming Dave Beesley on to the board.

“The Trust will now take steps to initiate a formal election process to appoint a permanent FED early in the new season.”

Until then and because Dave Beesley will not have undergone the full Fit and Proper Director Test as stipulated by the EFL, there will be decisions from which he will be unable to take part.

However, the Trust has received assurances from the Football Club board that he will be able to take a full role in the discussions around appointing a new chairman.

Cheltenham Town club secretary Paul Godfrey said: “The Board of Cheltenham Town AFC Ltd has held some constructive discussions with the Robins Trust over the past few days.

“EFL regulations require the office of director at a Football League club to be held by an individual and not an organisation so it became necessary for the Trust to nominate a new Fan Elected Director and this has been conducted in accordance with the Trust’s own regulations.

“On behalf of the Board I’d like to welcome Dave Beesley as the interim Fan Elected Director.

“He will have a hard act to follow after the excellent work done by Clive Gowing and Murry Toms but we very much look forward to working with him.”

Robins Trust statement and clarification on recent events

Over the last week the Trust’s board has been in a constant dialogue with representatives of the Football Club board.

Initially, those discussions were about replacing Murry Toms as Fan Elected Director at the earliest opportunity to ensure that there was constant fan representation on the Football Club board.

Because of Paul Baker’s decision to stand down that dialogue had to change tack – and unfortunately the Trust board and Football Club board disagree on a number of matters.
It was always our intention to keep those discussions and disagreements confidential until a meeting was agreed between the two parties.

Earlier today, the Trust received an outline of the latest statement the Club would be making.

We were in the process of amending that so it reflected our clear and published rules and regulations and previous documented agreements with the club, when it was published.

While we agree with large parts of their statement, a number of inaccuracies are contained in it that do not reflect previous agreements with the club, or the Trust’s own rules and regulations.

THE ROLE OF FAN ELECTED DIRECTOR

The role of Fan Elected Director on the Cheltenham Town Football Club Board came into fruition at an SGM of the Trust on April 16, 2015.

At that meeting, three separate resolutions were passed, the first two of which were in relation to the investment of the estate of Bryan Jacob.

  1. A clear majority of votes of Trust members voted that the proceeds of the estate would be invested in Cheltenham Town FC.
  2. A clear majority of votes of Trust members voted that £200,000 would be invested immediately in the Football Club.

Both of those votes, held in that order, ensured that a Fan Elected Director would then serve as a member of the Football Club board.
A subsequent vote held on that night saw Clive Gowing appointed to that role.

In its records, the Trust has correspondence with the board prior to April 16 where the position of FED was offered, regardless of who would serve in the role.

We also asked for, and received, a minute from the Club’s own board meeting records where it states that if votes 1 and 2 were positive, that the role of FED would be secured.

There were other stipulations to be met as part of the agreement, revolving around future investments to the club of £5,000 per year.

The Trust has satisfied those payments – and indeed has prepaid up to and including 2021, more than exceeding our requirements.

Therefore, it is the Trust’s position that the role of Fan Elected Director is one that is offered to Cheltenham Town Supporters Society Ltd, not to any individual.

To say that the situation is complicated by Murry Toms standing down from the role he was elected to last year is – as far as the Trust is concerned – inaccurate.

The Trust is happy to meet with, discuss and formulate answers with whomever the Club Board decides to represent them – we would hope the club offer us the same courtesy.

PROCESS FOR APPOINTING A NEW FAN ELECTED DIRECTOR

The Trust operates in a clear and defined way according to a number of agreed upon and published rules – all of which are available for anyone to read on our website www.robinstrust.org

At our AGM on October 2014, our members voted to adopt a number of side policies to the Trust’s rules as part of an ongoing update of the rules governing Supporters Trusts.

This was on advice from Supporters Direct and came after their experiences of dealing with more than 200 Supporters Trusts up and down the country.

One of these policies was the Board Membership and Conduct Policy where explicit rules are in place for such an eventuality as has happened with the FED in recent weeks.

Rule 7.3 of that policy states:
Vacancies arising amongst the Society Board Members elected by the members 
will be dealt with as follows.

7.3.1    If a vacancy caused by retirement or removal is not filled at the general meeting at which they retire or are removed, the vacancy may be filled by the Board
7.3.2    A vacancy occurring by death or resignation may be filled by the Board.
7.3.3    In each case the member appointed to fill the vacancy is to retire at the next annual general meeting and the Board will make provision for an election to be held.  For the avoidance of doubt the retiring member may stand for re-election at the meeting at which they retire.

The Trust is in the process of enacting Rule 7.3.2 at a scheduled meeting of our Board to be held this evening, Thursday, May 10.

It is our intention to appoint an interim FED to replace Murry Toms, and for them to be allowed to take the Trust’s agreed position on the Football Club board.

As per rule 7.3.3, we are keen to hold elections for the role of FED at the earliest opportunity.

However, the rapidly-evolving situation of the last few days has meant that it would be impossible to run a full and open election within the Club’s speedy timeframe set for appointing a new chairman.

Therefore, in order to ensure that the supporters’ voice is represented at board level during what is a seismic and vitally-important decision for our club, we will be enacting rule 7.3.2.

Therefore, the Club’s statement that the ‘Trust will need to hold an election for a new FED in accordance with their constitution’ is wrong for the reasons stated above.

RULES OR COMMON SENSE?

The Robins Trust came into being after a volunteer group of supporters decided to do their bit for the Football Club they love.

Over the past 12 years, the Trust has invested nearly a quarter of a million pounds in to our club, worked on countless community projects and largely supported the club’s board.

A set of circumstances, beyond our control and that of the Football Club have arisen in the last two weeks that have led to confusion and a lack of understanding.

The Trust board wants to ensure that the voice of the regular fan; the man, woman, boy or girl who clicks through the Whaddon Road turnstiles has a voice at the top table.

In any other set of circumstances other than those unique ones that have been dealt in the past two weeks, that voice would be heard.

We are currently attempting to work through those roadblocks that have been put in place by the Club and were willing to do this in private as the elected officials of the Trust.

It is our firm belief that regardless of any blocks put in place that the Trust’s voice should be heard in full during the coming weeks.

As stated there is a clear constitutional case – according to the Trust’s rules – for this to happen.

But more importantly than any rule, regulation or agreement previously in place, we believe the common sense approach is to keep the fans involved in such a seismic, once-in-a-generation decision.

To that end, the Trust has invited two members of the Football Club board to hear representation from the Trust’s board at our monthly meeting tonight.

We will inform our members of the results of those discussions as soon as it is possible to do so.

The Robins Trust would like to pay tribute to Paul Baker

The man who helped transform our Football Club

Now that it has been confirmed that Paul is standing down as chairman of Cheltenham Town, it is only right that we thank him for his extraordinary efforts over the past two decades.

Alongside those who have worn a red and white shirt, coached and managed the Robins, nobody has had more of a positive impact on our club than Paul Baker.

Paul has supported the aims and ambitions of the Robins Trust from our formation back in 2005 through to the election of our first Fan Elected Director in 2014.

Because of his support and encouragement fan representation at board level is now enshrined in Cheltenham Town and we believe that will be one of his lasting legacies.

The Robins Trust board will be seeking a meeting with the football club in the coming days to discuss the future and our role in shaping that.

The Trust – and therefore the fans – are the fourth largest shareholder in the club and we will be doing our utmost to ensure the voice of the average fan is heard as loud and as passionately as ever.

Although we do not currently have a Fan Elected Director in place, the role is one that is filled by the Trust as an organisation and not by any single person.

The Trust board is meeting this week and we will be in constant communication with the Football Club to ensure we are able to take part in discussions as to who takes over from Paul.

We are sure that all fans will share in our admiration for the work Paul has done during his long tenure and wish him every success for what comes next.

But most of all, we want to express our thanks for what he helped our club become.

Murry Toms stands down as Fan Elected Director

The Robins Trust’s Fan Elected Director Murry Toms has decided to stand down from his role on the Cheltenham Town board with immediate effect due to personal reasons.

Murry was elected by Trust members to serve a two-year term as FED, but has decided to stand down after 12 months because of his busy work life and the desire to spend more time with his family.

Murry’s impact since taking up his role in April 2017 has been huge.

His creativity and enthusiasm saw the club run a successful “12th Man” initiative for the final home game of the season against Hartlepool United last year, leading to a bumper home crowd.

He also played a leading role in establishing and running the #OurTown season ticket campaign – leading to record sales – as well as the Blue Day that saw more than £5,000 raised for charity.

Murry said: “It was an absolute privilege to work with the supporters as FED. We’ve done some great things together and it is my hope that we’ve underlined the value of fan representation at board level.

“The relationship between the fans and the club is the single most important thing and that demands respect on both sides. It’s what makes this place so special, and the thing that will serve it so well in the future.

“I’m sorry it’s come to a premature end, but there is no shortage of talented and committed people that can take it on to the next level and I will help them as much as I can.”

Before informing the club board of his decision, Murry spoke at length with Trust chairman Dave Jennings and other members of the Trust board.

Trust chairman Dave Jennings said: “On behalf of the Trust and all Robins fans I would like to thank Murry for his hard work, creativity and impact during his year as FED.

“All of the Trust board are sad to see him step down from a role he was having an outstanding impact in, but we all appreciate the valid reasons why he has made the decision.

“Our Trust board will discuss what to do next but we feel that this gives us a chance to take stock of what the Trust does next.”

As the fourth largest shareholder in Cheltenham Town Football Club – and second largest shareholder on the current board – the Trust should have a significant say in club matters.

The club have committed to having a Fan Elected Director, but in light of this latest development the Trust board would like to discuss the role of the FED going forward.

We will be in contact with the Club in the near future and will update supporters as to the outcome of these discussions as soon as it is possible to do so.

Response to Club clarification of Season Ticket administration fees

The Robins Trust welcomes Cheltenham Town Football Club’s response to our call for clarification over the £5 increase to all season tickets after the club announced there was a price freeze.

However, the Robins Trust board criticises the decision to apply the charge to the most loyal supporters and also the lack of apology for the club’s initial misleading announcement.