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.
- A clear majority of votes of Trust members voted that the proceeds of the estate would be invested in Cheltenham Town FC.
- 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.