Meeting Notes Preface:
Although there were no formal minutes of the meeting held on December 10 with the Alliance Supporters Group and Members of the YTFC Board, these are the Alliance Supporters Group minutes of the meeting. The Club has a few issues with certain aspects of the minutes, however we, as the Supporters Group, need to put them out to Yeovil Town supporters as there are several rumours going around as to what was said by individuals at the meeting.
Chairman Alliance Supporters Group.
Supporter Alliance Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 10th December 2018 at 3pm
Venue: Yeovil Town FC
Present for YTFC:
John Fry, David Lee, David Mills, Darren Way (for later part of meeting)
Present for Alliance Group:
Richard Rendell, Chairman, Paul Hadlow, Green & Whites, Marilyn Cottle, Junior Glovers, Mike Rowsell, Simon Woodland, DSA, Rob Newport, Cary Glovers, Sara Bradley , Simon Winter, Community Sports Trust, Terri Burt, Brendon Owen, Glovers Trust.
Apologies were received from Tom Burt, Bridport Glovers.
The Chairman, Richard Rendell, opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and thanked John Fry and David Lee for attending the meeting. He then asked John Fry how could the Board justify the extension of Darren Way’s contract by another two years?
Stating that in the last two/three years the crowd had dropped by 2000+, one home win this season, three in the last calendar year, poor football, lame excuses for losing matches, losing to two Non -League Clubs in the last three years. We have been lucky in the last 3 years because there have been two clubs worse than us, which has saved us from relegation. No other club or company would put up with that. It seems that the Club are more interested in what the ‘Prawn Cocktail Brigade’ in the boxes have to say than what the supporters think. There seems to be a ‘Them and Us’ scenario. The Prawn Cocktail Brigade can have a great meal and a drink in warm conditions, the rest have to put up with cold burgers etc. and drink in a tent. The fans have had enough. The Club is at an all- time low as far as the supporters are concerned.
David Mills invited the Chairman of YTFC, Mr John Fry to answer the primary question posed by Richard Rendell, namely: What was the justification for extending Mr Way’s contract at this particular point in the season?
Mr Fry then spoke extensively on unrelated topics including the desire to build the first team resource, through recruitment and development of young players, to continue to develop the Category 3 Football Academy to produce players for the first team squad and to establish links with Premier/Championship Clubs to loan the best talented U23 football players. He spoke of the unusually large numbers of injuries this season and the cost this was having at the Club. Some £59,000 had been spent so far on medical bills, including £20,000 so far on one loan player.
He also reminded those present that he had been at the Club for some 25 years, 22 of them as Chairman and at his age he didn’t need to come to HP every day but did so for the good of the Club. He was often at the Club at 6.00am and many times he was the last to leave at night. He and his Board were working extremely hard to keep the progress going that had been achieved to date. They were being positive and working within the laws and he acted professionally most of the time. Accounts could be seen at any time and minutes of all Board meetings were available. Anyone who was coming on to the Board was contributing about £250,000 each (Note taker unsure if this was in real money or an hourly rate given free). He himself had never taken a penny out of the Club unlike Chairman up and down the Country.
He also said that Mr David Lee also worked at the Club several days a week for free. If anyone knew of a potential investor he was always willing to talk to them. His door was always open and any supporter was welcome to come up and talk to him. The Club had an aim to be in League One by the end of 20/21 season. He said that the Club did not have an extensive scouting system but fortunately the Club were able to use a computer programme that helped them to pick players that they might like to sign.
He then answered the original question by saying that the timing to extend Darren Way’s contract was to ensure stability. This matters to players, agents and staff. It was not a good thing for them to be wondering if the Manager would be there come June. Many players would not sign or re-sign for the Club unless they knew the Manager’s position was secure beyond that time. He underlined that he felt Darren Way was doing pretty well overall, the players love him and he had done an excellent job in keeping the Club in the football league and the Club’s poor run on the field was down to injuries, not lack of capability by the Manager or players. He stated that of the eleven players who started the game against Newport, nine had subsequently been injured.
Mr Fry then spoke about social media. He felt that it was not doing this Club any good. There were too many stories quoting ‘fake news’ that were being read by supporters who believed it to be true. He confirmed that contrary to social media rumours that no sponsor had any influence over, or had been consulted about, the extension of the Manager’s contract. This had all been fake. People could say things about him as Chairman if they wished because he had a skin like a Rhino. You could love him or hate him. He didn’t care.
Terri Burt asked Mr Fry why the Club did not address the loss of money that occurred year in year out because of the poor catering and retail sales. Mr Fry replied that he had appointed David Mills as the Chief Operating Officer and it was for him to look into these matters.
Brendon Owen then asked Mr Fry the following question:
In December 2017, the Club said “there will be communications in the coming weeks” on Mark Palmer’s report to the YTFC Board. Apart from the minutes of an April 2018 Alliance meeting, there have been no other Club communications in the last twelve months to reflect the December 2017 statement. Why was that?
In answer Mr Fry said that Mark Palmer was not being paid by the Club. Mr Hayward was paying for Palmer’s involvement. Mr Palmer had recently returned to the Club and was actively trying to find someone to put money into the Club. Potentially he was looking either for a buyer or an investor. Practically every club in League Two is up for sale but there are not many buyers. Many of the details of Mr Palmer’s involvement with the Club were commercially sensitive and therefore confidential.
Brendon Owen then asked if, as Palmer had stated at the April 2018 Alliance meeting, his report had suggested a seven year plan for Yeovil Town. This was denied by Mr Fry. Mr David Lee stated that the Club had a five year plan and the Club were already two years into it. When asked if that plan could be divulged, Mr Lee said that due to confidentiality he was unable to expand upon it other than to say that it included reaching League One by the end of 2020/21 season.
Paul Hadlow asked if the playing budget had been increased this year in order to give Mr Way a chance to extend and give longer contracts and if it was felt that this had worked. Mr Fry answered that the playing budget was less than the £1.5m which had been wrongly quoted in social media. David Lee stated that information received back from the Football League indicated that YTFC’s playing budget remained one of the smallest in the league, i.e. bottom quarter of the EFL 2018/19 benchmark for league two clubs.
Brendon Owen said that On BBC Somerset/Bristol, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Yeovil Town have historically been given the opportunity to be interviewed around twice a year at Board, Chairman or Owner level. Whilst City and Rovers have continued to do so, YTFC have not put any Board/Owner representative up for over two years, with the BBC describing it as a refusal. Why are the Board/Owners refusing contact with the BBC?
Mr Fry replied that the last time he had done a radio interview with the BBC he had been set up. He stated that there was a man from Bath who wished to buy the Club and he was best friends with Geoff Twentyman, the interviewer for the BBC. The man from Bath wished to discredit John Fry and fed Mr Twentyman with a load of lies. John Fry had been stitched up and he wasn’t going to be set up again. His family did not need to hear that kind of thing. Brendon Owen asked if it was right that the fans should be denied the chance to hear what the Chairman had to say about the Club’s ambitions and plans on local radio ? No answer was given.
Mr Fry returned to the topic of social media and the fact that fans were paying undue attention to ‘fake news’. He gave examples of false rumours of an imminent major club announcement last week about the Chairman and the Club budget being overstated. Both of these are or were factually incorrect and the Club simply asks that the fans and media consider why statements like this are being made.
John Fry then asked Brendon Owen how he would run the Club. Brendon Owen pointed out that John Fry was the Chairman and owner and those assembled wanted to hear what his plans were not Brendon Owen’s. Mr Fry repeated that he didn’t have to come here every day and if people wanted him to leave, he would do so today. Brendon Owen then formally invited him to leave.
Terri Burt returned to the question which outlined that some fans felt catering and commercial services were poor. John Fry indicated that David Mills had been given full authority to make changes in these areas. David Mills said that he accepted that although there had been improvements there were plenty more things that needed to be done and there would be further improvements in early 2019. He also highlighted that consistency was an issue – sometimes for the same area of off field operations, the service could vary from very good to very poor match by match. The food was not bad all the time.
Mr Darren Way then attended the meeting. He stated that he had established a good team that had performed very well until numerous injuries had occurred. This had unsettled the balance of the team. Added to this, international call ups had not helped the situation, with some players returning tired from their travels. The squad as a whole were inexperienced and some who had been asked to step in for injured players did not have the necessary game time to deal with the situation. In Mr Way’s opinion it was necessary to have 45-100 games for a player to have the experience. He said that the team was the youngest in all of the four football leagues, a statement which was dismissed as untrue by the supporters present, citing the presence at the recent Forest Green game of Warren, Zoko and Nelson, all mature players. Mr Way said that if you took those three players out then the team was young.
Mr Way explained the difficulties of attracting players to play and live in Yeovil. He said that London and Manchester clubs had no difficulty getting local players but getting players to come down to Yeovil was difficult. He said that the Conference winning team that he had played in all lived locally, they socialised together, met wives and girlfriends here and were accessible to the fans around the town. Those days have gone and will never return. The only way Yeovil got to sign Gary Warren was because he lives in Bristol. The Club had to maintain five properties to house the young signed and loan players. It was costing the Club £150,000 a year. Some of them had no idea how to cook and whilst they could come to the Club for a breakfast and lunch, they would often go to fast food outlets for an evening meal. This wouldn’t happen if this was a Premiership or Championship club, they would be able to get an evening meal at the club as well. He asked what Yeovil had to offer and answered it by saying that Yeovil had nothing; there was only Leonardo’s in Yeovil.
When asked why he had announced that the Club was going for a top 7 finish this season, Mr Way said it had been said to encourage the players. Asked what the aim was now, he said staying up. He then reminded everyone that he had saved the Club from relegation for the last three seasons. He said he was a hero. He said that he could walk into any other club and that he would not be at Yeovil for ever and when he left he would be missed. He stated that the fans knew nothing about football.
Brendon Owen asked John Fry if arrangements could be made for an open forum meeting with Q&As with perhaps Mr Hayward, Fry, members of the Board and the 1st team manager. This would give supporters who were not able to be present at this kind of meeting a chance to listen and question those at YTFC. Mr Fry responded by saying No, not if it turns into a slanging match.
David Lee said that consideration would be given to the request.
Just before the meeting closed Mr Fry announced to those present "I guarantee we won’t go down."
Richard Rendell then thanked those who had attended and closed the meeting at 5.30pm.
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