Alliance Meeting with Mark Palmer

Since agreeing to join the YTFC Alliance Group following the public vote in January, the Trust representatives have emphasised the need for the minutes of each meeting to be produced and published swiftly in order that supporters of the Football Club know what items have been discussed, what actions have been taken and what progress has been made.  We are sorry to report that on each occasion the publication of the minutes has taken far longer than is deemed reasonable by the Trust to make it to the Official website and members supporter organisations to distribute to their respective members.

The Alliance Group page on the Club website currently covers minutes up to and including a meeting on March 21st but the eagerly anticipated meeting with Mark Palmer that the Trust had tried to coordinate themselves actually took place on the 18th of April.  Despite two weeks having passed and Trust representatives requesting the minutes on more than one occasion they have still yet to be delivered.

The Trust Board feel that we have waited long enough, we have made a commitment to you, our members, to provide as much information about meetings we that we attend as swiftly as we can.  We therefore feel compelled to publish our own notes in the absence of official minutes.  We would like to highlight that we are doing this of our own accord and that the notes are based on the interpretation of the Trust representatives that attended the meeting and not the Alliance Group and should not be considered a formal reflection of the meeting that took place. We do however hope that you will find the information useful and understand why we have taken the decision to publish our own notes from the meeting.

 NOTES FROM A MEETING AT YTFC ON WEDESDAY 18TH APRIL 2018.

Update from Mark Palmer:   Mr Palmer apologised for not being present at the last meeting but explained that he could not due to a conflicting appointment.

He used typed notes to give his update and it was agreed that these notes should form part of the official minutes. The Trust took notes of what he was saying though apologise in advance if the notes in the official minutes give reference to some items that may have been missed.

Key messages from Mr Palmer were: “I am on your side.  I came on board in Sept 17 to conduct an overview of the Club on behalf of the owners of Yeovil Town Holdings.  I have looked at every aspect from the quality of football through to the full business side of things.  I have met the staff, mostly on a 1 to 1 basis and I presented my findings in December 2017.  I am subject to a confidentiality agreement in respect of certain issues.  My overview has taken into account the short, medium and long-term requirements for the Club.  The long-term strategy may be as long as 7 years.  I was invited to look for inward investment and not an exit strategy by the owners.  The Club needs reach a viable position before inward investment can be searched for.  At the moment the Club is not an attractive proposition for the type of investors that I could reach out to.”

“On the football side of things, it seems that there was no sustainable plan for the Championship and since then things have not stabilised. Small budgets, not retaining players, over dependency on loan players, a squad that is too young, squad size too small.  Experience and leadership missing, no consistency.  I have helped Darren Way and John Fry to improve the squad during the January transfer window. Some of the Man Utd revenue has been used on this.”

“I have challenged the present set up of the Academy. What has been developed from it?  Boys were not ready to step in for the FA Cup games when the Club needed extra players. There is no clear pathway from Academy to 1st team.  There is a need for an Under 23 team, playing competitive games. This would also allow 1st team squad players to gain further experience.  This would also be a business asset to bring on young players for later sale.”

“There is no scouting set up and there needs to be one.  Darren Way cannot be everywhere trying to identify new talent. The Manager needs to be backed up. He needs people to give him details of upcoming opposition.  This needs investment.”

“It takes two years to build up a squad and then there can be a big push to go for promotion.”

On the subject of supporters: “There has been a drop off on season tickets and a fall of attendances.  The Club needs to address this as a priority.  David Mills has some ideas to look at this. It is necessary to improve the stadium and its facilities. Need to give supporters a reason to come back.  It is necessary to try and release the stranglehold on the land around the stadium. I have spoken to stakeholders including the Council. The Council are on our side.  We are making progress. Any financial uplift from development of the land must go back to the Club.  We need a working group of Council, covenant holders and stakeholders to move this forward. Investors need to see that the land can be developed. Match day facilities are not adequate. It is necessary to get short term wins. Step by step.  The marquee is not adequate.”

On the subject of Business: “Investment is needed. A business structure revamp has been presented to the Board. Due to the confidentiality clause I cannot give details.  The Club is not openly for sale. I can reach out to various investors. Outside investors with no particular love of Yeovil need something in return. In talking to investors, I can suggest investment in new stands, shareholdings or an exit strategy. I have received Mr Hayward’s and Mr Fry’s approval to do this. They are willing to look at any opportunity if the price is right. Ideally it needs someone who is sensitive to the Club. I am having these conversations with Messrs Hayward & Fry but again the confidentiality clause prevents me from going further. The sooner a positive arrangement is made the better.”

Questions to Mr Palmer:

The Trust asked, bearing in mind this was a potential 7-year plan with various strands that needed to be pulled together, if Mr Palmer had recommended that a Chief Executive Officer be employed to oversee this long-term project. Mr Palmer indicated that he had put this forward in his presentation as he felt there needed to be a chain of command with someone having an overview of the whole programme.  There may however be budgetary restraints for such a position. The Trust stated that if the 7-year plan was left to be implemented by those presently running the Club then it would surely fail.

The Trust asked what role he had proposed in this plan for involvement of supporters. Had he proposed new shareholdings or a Supporters Director?  Mr Palmer said that he had not proposed any involvement for supporters.  All he suggested was that a vision was needed for next season to encourage season ticket sales.

One member of the Alliance Group commented that if as Mr Palmer says it takes two years to build up a squad before pushing for promotion then this would not encourage supporters to return and buy season tickets in the build-up seasons as they may as well wait for the promotion push season.

Mr Palmer then left the meeting.

END OF NOTES

The Trust acknowledges that much of what Mr Palmer has outlined makes common sense. However, we have one or two fears and disappointments.

Firstly, we are concerned that an external business consultant should have been invited to assist with decisions relating to new players. What are his qualifications for this?

Secondly, we wonder what type of investor Mr Palmer is able to reach out to for inward investment?  If no search has been made to date we suspect that Mr Palmer’s contacts are not people with any affiliation to this area and have no particular interest in Yeovil Town. If the incentive being offered to them relates to the sale of the surrounding land for development we would question their commitment and their suitability to our Football Club.

We are dismayed that Mr Palmer sees no role for supporters to play in the plans to move our Club forward other than to buy a season ticket and sit quietly.  We feel that he has done the supporters of Yeovil Town FC a dis-service in ignoring the importance of the local community having a stake in its local club.

As always, we shall try and keep you as up to date as possible with the issues that surround YTFC and we always welcome your feed-back. Without the fans there is no point to any of this.

The Glovers Trust Board of Directors