Public Meeting in the Noel White Suite, 28 June 2002
Whilst these notes are intended to be accurate they are not an official record of the meeting nor should they be taken as necessarily representing the views of Altrincham Football Club.
The meeting was chaired by Grahame Rowley (GR), who with Geoff Goodwin (GG) and Andrew Shaw, comprise the new Board. However, Mr Shaw was unable to attend as he is currently at the World Cup in Japan. Also at the table were Graham Heathcote (GH) and Bernard Taylor (BT).
GR introduced Geoff Goodwin to the supporters and asked Graham Heathcote to outline the background to the meeting. GH gave an account of the AGM and of the subsequent meetings between the outgoing Board and the major shareholders. These had resulted in the Board resigning en masse and the major shareholders then attempting to form a Board to replace them. Grahame Rowley had been persuaded to rejoin the Board, having resigned during last season. Geoff Goodwin had been brought in for his business acumen as the owner of Goodwin's Coaches whilst Andrew Shaw was well versed in the commercial side of football operations.
GH, as one of the shareholders as well as the outgoing Club Secretary, reported that the true size of the Club's debt, if directors' loans were included, was "considerably" in excess of £500,000.
It was confirmed by GR that BT has a one year contract as manager and that he has been told the budget to which he must keep this season. BT confirmed that the following players had left the Club; Steve Hawes (now at Worksop), Stuart Coburn (to Leigh RMI), Mark Sertori and Kevin Hulme. Amongst those staying were Mark Maddox, Ian Craney and Rod Thornley. "Most of the players are staying" said BT. BT had still to speak with Danny Murphy as he had been on holiday. BT reported that Gary Talbot, the former club captain who is now at Northwich Victoria, had indicated a wish to rejoin Altrincham but that was dependant on budgetary constraints. Reports from Hucknall that Ian Duerden had been signed were not true. BT is looking at nine players this coming week including three goalkeepers. He also said that four existing players had said that they wanted to be captain next season! It was confirmed that there will be no Altrincham reserves team this coming season. The Youth team will continue. BT had asked GH to resume as coach but he had not accepted so Andy May was going to join in that capacity. (Andy is the former Manchester City player who has had managerial/coaching experience at Halifax and Wigan Athletic). BT confirmed that all of the remaining players had "taken a decent drop in wages" to stay. Chris Adams was being given the opportunity to get fit again but it was thought that Paul Taylor might not be fit to play again.
GH indicated that the Inland Revenue had agreed to wait till the end of September for the settlement of their bill. He indicated that servicing the £200,000 debt (i.e. minus the directors' loans) was the Club's top priority. He confirmed that the once secret McAlpine's deal, whereby the building firm had an option on the Moss Lane ground should it come up with an acceptable alternative site for the football club to play, had now lapsed. GR indicated that negotiations were "ongoing with various parties" about how to service the above debt.
There was some discussion about share issues; the Board were re-examining this but the McAlpine's deal had been one of the factors hindering a share issue in the past. GH underlined that the new Board would "have to say no" more often than previous Boards in order to control expenditure. GR felt that the situation we had whereby the current Board had few shares, whilst the major shareholders had large numbers but were not able to invest more money in the Club, was not ideal.
GH confirmed that this meeting was his last as Club Secretary, as his contract expired at the end of June. However, to provide some stability he would be combining his new job as a postman with part-time work as Secretary for the next month. (Towards the end of the meeting there was a round of applause for Graham's continuing involvement with the Club). In response to Jacqui Forster's question, GR stated that the various fundraising schemes (Alty 100, 200 etc) would be reviewed by the new Board. The outgoing Board had recently handed over the subscription list for these schemes to the new Board. GR hoped the schemes would continue.
The Club is to function without a full-time commercial manager. Barry Pond is ensuring that advertising boards at Moss Lane are renewed but any help for Barry would be gratefully received. Peter Hennerly was asked to assist once more with fundraising and agreed to do so "if there was a figurehead". GR appealed for others to join the Board. GG explained his sponsorship links with the Manchester Storm and Manchester City and indicated that his interest in Altrincham was because he enjoyed being involved in a "lovely, friendly club" like Altrincham. He would be providing coaches for the first team at no cost next season and had written off the Club's debt to him from last season. He also offered to provide supporters' transport at a rate which would include a number of free trips, where resulting proceeds may go to the club.
The expertise of Mr Shaw in business and commercial affairs to do with football was emphasized and he was considered to be a great asset to the Club. GR agreed that there should be two or three supporters' meetings during the season to improve communication. He was considering putting summaries of Board Meetings in the matchday programme. There would be no Chairman formally appointed till the Board had grown to six or seven in number. Whereas Mr Shaw would look after the above matters, GR would concentrate on the football side of the club and liaise with the Manager, Bernard Taylor. GG would have responsibilities for the ground.
It was hoped that Manchester United might play some reserve games at Moss Lane but this was still to be negotiated. GH felt that the restructuring of the UniBond Cups would not cost the club money even though there would be fewer games. SAFE's Alan Brotherton felt that the Club had let down the supporters by having two financial crises in the last couple of years. He wanted the role of the supporters to be recognised more and this was agreed.
GH indicated that the new budget was set on the basis of conservative estimates of gate money. It was confirmed that the Robins' Review programme would continue in its current format and it was hoped that the price would remain as last season. GR appealed for advertisers in the programme as well as for written contributions. An appeal was made via Derek Willshaw for more volunteers on matchdays to assist in a variety of roles. GH announced that there would be a "spruce up" of the ground on the weekend of 13-14 July, staring at 10am. This would include repainting work. The glazing in the main stand would be repaired in the coming weeks.
It was confirmed that Sid would remain as groundsman. GH stressed the importance of getting covers for the Golf Road end. The venue for Youth fixtures next season was still to be finalised. The appointment of a new Club Secretary was to be discussed by the Board, who were conducting a staffing review of the club. GR concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for attending and in particular the "unsung heroes" who did do much for the Club without reward. A list of the pre-season friendlies was circulated (see here).