Bristol City Holdings AGM Report
As a shareholder in the company, the Supporters Trust was represented at the Annual General Meeting by Acting Membership Secretary Mike Adams. For the benefit of all Trust members, who via the Trust are also stakeholders in the company, Mike has prepared this report of the evening's events:
There were two major items in my view - the new stadium and the question of future AGMs:NEW STADIUM
Details are sketchy as the project is subject to contract. Company chairman Steve Lansdown said that they have acquired the right to build a stadium in South Bristol "not far from here".
The plan is for a stadium and infra-structure, i.e. a premiership facility:
All the leading politicians and officers of Bristol City Council have been consulted and have supported the project, which makes Steve Lansdown confident. They’re looking for planning permission by 2009 and for completion in 2011 or 2012. The good news for the Trust is that Steve Lansdown said he will have a dialogue with fans to find out what they want:
‘I will call on the Supporters Trust to organise input from supporters at large.’
There was overwhelming support for this project, possibly because it is not far from Ashton Gate and because we need it to get the revenue required to support Premier League football.
The meeting opened with the formal business. This year there were five motions:
To receive the annual report – passed nem con (none against) as far as I could see.
To re-appoint Keith Dawe as Director – passed nem con as far as I could see.
To re-appoint Deloitte & Touche LLP as auditors – passed nem con as far as I could see.
To give authority to allot relevant securities up to £2,644,764 – passed nem con as far as I could see.
Regulations to be approved and adopted as Articles of Association – see below.
The regulations, if passed, would have left no compulsion to hold traditional AGMs in future. Steve Lansdown clearly wanted the motion to be passed and said that in place of such AGMs he would annually call a meeting that would be open to other supporters, not just shareholders. He said it was possible to put all relevant company materials on the website and conduct polls of shareholders by e-mail, adding that it made sense to save paper, postage and work. There was much discussion about this from the floor of the meeting, with many expressing concern.
A vote was taken by a show of hands and was clearly defeated. This led to discussions at the top table. Initially they wanted to take a poll vote, where each person’s vote is proportional to their shareholding. One member of the floor suggested separating the motion into its two parts so that we could vote on them separately, i.e. the cost-saving elements and the matter of holding an AGM. Steve Lansdown said this was not possible because the exact text of any motion has to be published the necessary 21 days in advance.
The chairman ultimately took a revote on the basis of his promise to hold a normal AGM in 2008. The result was - for 94, against 34. All was not done and dusted because this was not the required 75% majority. Steve Lansdown then decided against holding a poll vote and took the show of hands as a rejection of the motion, leaving the status quo for another year.
I thought this was the right course of action – a possible rift between the board and the small shareholders was thus avoided. Steve Lansdown took it well and joked about it a few times later in the evening. That concluded the formal business.
There was then a short DVD of the promotion year followed by Steve Lansdown’s PowerPoint presentation. The theme was ‘Looking forward – not back.’ Items apart from the new stadium included:
New training ground at Failand in association with QEH
This is a "great step forward" and is necessary, he said, to play at the highest level and to attract players. The surface needs to match that at Ashton Gate. It is partly funded by the City Foundation, which now has over 1700 members. There is a 125-year lease on the land, which is 11 acres on which there will be 4 quality pitches.
We have a base from which to build – fourth in the table of Group B – 3 internationals – 2 overseas players including ‘Meg’ the Hungarian ‘keeper (one question was about the lack of ‘keepers produced by the Academy).
Thought to be first in the country for 6-8 year-olds – 300 went through trials – 3 new centres at Bath, Central Bristol and Monmouth. Scouting has been the key.
We brought in seven new players this season. Seven players not making the team at present are ‘in demand’ and on loan at other clubs.
The £281,000 loss by the football club included bonuses on winning promotion.
The £601,000 loss by the stadium indicates that we have to increase gates, have more events and have everything properly priced to at least break even. A new ticketing system for season ticket holders has just come online.
The club has to be professional from top to bottom and progress in the right way, not stretching things too thinly, the chairman said. We need more participation from people and businesses. We want to see everyone promoting and having pride in Bristol City. "How far can we go? Let’s enjoy it all together!" he added.
Q & A WITH THE CHAIRMAN (SL) & MANAGER GARY JOHNSON (GJ)
Why have we had only one home-grown player come through to the first team this season?
GJ: Young boys have to be ready to play at this level and I hope you have confidence that I am a good judge of this.
What are your thoughts about Lee Trundle?
GJ: He will be a great asset; I’ll promise he’ll come through. The level is new to him and he is finding his game and cannot be in the team while he is doing it. He is working very hard.
What are your thoughts about Frankie Artus, currently on loan at Exeter?
GJ: Exeter play a different shape on occasions when Frankie may not fit in. It is good experience in showing him that he cannot just walk in and command a place. He played well against Bristol Rovers reserves.
When Bristol Rovers is closed for rebuilding, will rugby come to Ashton Gate?
SL: Bristol Rugby have already made arrangements elsewhere. We need rugby at times and other events at Ashton Gate. When it came the pitch was not damaged. It is worth noting that cash form Bristol Rovers, had they come here, would have been useful.
I thought Tuesday’s game was wonderful and Hull’s stadium was marvellous. Do you agree?
GJ: This is the game where our lads got their confidence back. In the first half we were back to normal and in the second we dug in.
The new stadium - are we going alone and what will be the cost?
SL: Yes we are going alone – the only way to get things done is to do it yourself. The normal estimate of costs is £1000 per seat – that would suggest £30 million. Ours will be more expensive as it is likely to contain offices and a hotel. It must pay for itself and not be a burden on the club. The profile of our club has grown, we are attracting a lot more interest and we need to pull together.
Are players like Phil Jevons going to be given a chance?
GJ: Jevo has been unlucky with injury. He scored 17 goals last season – just short of the 20 I expected. Like others, he needs first team football which is why he is on loan at Huddersfield. As a club, we have been fortunate with injuries this season and there has not been the usual number of opportunities as a result.
Why is the club denying concessions to women OAPs? Can this alter for the half-season tickets?
SL: I know nothing about this and will investigate it
Have we benefited from Liam Rosenior’s transfer to Reading?
SL: The transfer was for £1.5 million. We have received £290,000.
Are you concerned that we seem to depend so much on Louis Carey?
GJ: If there were a second Louis on the sidelines he would be a very disappointed player. I like to look at the situation as having ‘different clubs in your bag.’ Tamas Vasko will grow in time to be good cover.
Around 1000 saw us play Rovers reserves – any chance of matches against premier clubs?
GJ: We are conscious of the pitch. The groundsman often needs a break to do work. For premier fixtures we would normally be expected to travel.
What are your thoughts about Steve Brooker?
GJ: He is back in training and doing well; his first operation did not work; he had to go through a complete re-habilitation before the second operation. His knee problems are over. Now he needs games.