Ciderspace News Page : Chairman Fry Seeks Response From Supporters Direct
19 December 2015 : Chairman Fry Seeks Response From Supporters Direct
Yeovil Town Chairman John Fry has maintained a defensive stance over fans plans to form a Supporters Trust to allow fans to group together in association with the football club. The group, which is currently going through the formalities of being established as a properly constituted Trust, is currently running under the monicker of the Yeovil Voice and this week met with umbrella organisation Supporters Direct, who will provide guidance and assistance to ensure that the organisation is set up in a professional manner. He says he has written to Supporters Direct asking them questions of how they are running their organisation.

Fry claims that the working party that are looking to set up the Trust have said that they cannot communicate with him, although it's not clear what this relates to. He has repeated to the Western Gazette his claim that the club's directors are putting in "half a million pounds a year, every year" into the club to ensure it keeps running - it's yet to be revealed which directors are providing these sums of money and whether it is being done via a loan or as a cash gift. He describes the club's accounts as frightening:

"They say they can't communicate with the chairman. It is rubbish. If they want to come into a board meeting I am quite prepared to allow them. If they looked at our accounts it would frighten them to death. I have got seven long-serving directors who have been here for years. They are green and white and were supporters before they were directors and are top professional people who don't charge a penny. They contribute to the running of this club. There are two of us here who here full-time for nothing. No dividends, no wages. We put in half a million pounds a year, every year, to keep this club going. We can only work with the money we are given and if someone comes up with the money that is a different proposition. All these other things like planning applications are paid for privately and although would be a benefit to the football club, doesn't take anything out of its pot."

Fry also states that he has written to Supporters Direct in London, but says that they have not replied to his letter. He questions whether the Supporters Direct organisation is 'fit and proper' to exist, despite the umbrella body having been established by the UK Government, where it is regulated under the Financial Conduct Authority as a Community Benefit Society, backed by other organisations such as UEFA and the Scottish Government. Fry asks if Supporters Direct have been to see where the Supporters Trust money is going - a non sequitur given the Yeovil Voice have yet to form the constituted Trust as a body:

"I have written to the Supporters Direct managing director - and not had a response - to say you won't find a more open door policy than here. I said to them 'are you fit and proper? Are you going down and checking where the money is going?' The Green and Whites produce their accounts every year about every single penny they raise on these premises and we need that transparency. What do they mean when they say hand the club back to the community? Have they got the money? If they have got the money then come in, join us. But if they haven't got the money they can't do anything. There is no point waiting to build the pot of gold up. The message is, if someone has got money out there come along, lets see it. I would welcome it, come in and help me."

The Glovers Chairman repeats his views on AFC Bournemouth, whose Supporters Trust took over the running of the Cherries in 1997 after previous owners took the club to the edge of bankruptcy. They gave over control to a consortium that included Jeff Mostyn and Steve Sly during 2007, but in February 2008 fell into administration, being deducted 10 points under Football League rules, followed by a further 17 point deduction during the following season when they failed to exist that same administration under League rules. Fry claims that Bournemouth have been in administration "three times" in the last twenty years, and suggests that the Supporters Trust sold their shares directly to Russian billionaire Maxim Demin - an event that only materialised four years after Mostyn's purchase of the club, with the Cherries having subsequently been bought up by Eddie Mitchell. Fry gives his take on Bournemouth's situation:

"I believe in supporters' trusts and groups. I have said to them four times to come in and have a meeting with the other groups. But you have got to have people who know how to run a football business and are prepared to be hands-on for no payment. People can't just come in and run the place without taking responsibility and we need continuity. What is a community-owned club? Is it one part-owned by a supporters' trust? There are plenty of those across the country and I will give you one which has gone broke three times - Bournemouth. Three times they went into administration since I have been here and then they had a Russian who came along and the supporters had that golden share and they sold out. It is all about money."

It should be noted that any Yeovil Supporters Trust - when formed - would be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and under the watch of Supporters Direct. As all Supporters Trusts are run independently of their associated football clubs, any vetting of accounts is done by those two organisations, along with the Trust membership, and not by the football club they are associated with.

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