24/02/2017 : Taff's Gloversblog : Keeping Control Of The Land
24 February 2017 : Keeping Control Of The Land
Ask a hardcore football supporter what their priorities are for their football club, and they'll initially tell you that they want to win matches. Press them a little further, and maybe rope in a few Charlton, Blackpool and Coventry fans into the conversation, and you may start to find that actually want they want is good ownership, financial security and absolute control over the stadium and its land.

It's something that we tend to take for granted when we walk into Huish Park, that the world will keep on turning, and that even if we get a ropey result or two like last week's match against Cheltenham Town, that a win will be just around the corner, and everyone will go home happy. Hence there's a history of football fans, who tend to be blissfully unaware of the issues affecting their club, right up until the brown stuff hits the fan, at which point they ask "why weren't we told?"

Those fans who are old enough to remember the Bingo Hall Meeting in 1991 will recall that we didn't get any prior warnings. It took a change in the club's boardroom for someone to open up the accounts and realise that there was an axe hanging over the club's neck. But as fans we should be told of any issues, as invariably it is the fans that end up rushing in to pick up the pieces when things go pearshaped.

In principle there is nothing wrong with the owner of a football club having also provided a loan to that same club. Jon Goddard-Watts did it, and over the years there's been the odd director that's bailed the club out - in the dark days it was to pay the electricity bill, rather than to buy a player! However, when that loan gets specifically locked into an asset, such as the club's stadium or surrounding land, then my view is that it should be declared up front - firstly because it sets an expectation that they want that loan to be repaid (fair enough if that is agreed with the whole board), but secondly because it creates a business risk for the club, in that if they default on that loan, the land/stadium can become directly owned by that person. We know that is the state of play, when we mortgage our home - if we fail to keep up repayments, then the bank have the right to repossess your house. That risk should be open and transparent.

Back in March 2011, the club's stadium and freehold land was secured by owner Norman Hayward to the tune of 278,000. The club never disclosed this in their annual accounts statement on their website. The local press never reported that this event had happened. It was only because fans did some digging around the Government's Companies House records that this figure became public. That secured loan has stayed in place for six years now, with no obvious means of repayment, but with the risk that the club could lose its stadium if it did not do so in accordance with the repayment terms.

Fast forward to October 2016, and a second submission was made to Companies House. Whilst the 278,000 value is secured against Yeovil Town Holdings Limited (the parent company of Yeovil Town Football Club) the latest one is secured directly against the Football Club company itself. An amount was not disclosed on the document - a subsequent statement issued by the club says that this is because there isn't a loan in place in this instance. This is despite it being clear that as of June 30th 2016, the club owed a total 427,006 to Mr Hayward (including the above secured sum).

If this second document has no secured value, then this then begs the question of why allow that document to be lodged and exactly how it is in the interests of the Football Club. The key thing to note is that with a standard house mortgage, you know exactly what sum you have to pay off, and probably have a date by which you have to pay it off by. Once you've done that, then all of the obligations contained within the mortgage's small print are discharged. You no longer have to answer to Mr Bank Manager - hurrah! However, if you lodge such a document without any value attached to it, then when does the legal agreement end? How do you reach the point at which you are no longer having to doff your cap to the person/company who at this present time has not actually given you any financial benefit, yet can prevent you from either developing or selling that property?

As such, the club's March 2011 agreement with Mr Hayward worries me far less than the October 2016 agreement does. For the March 2011 agreement, we'd need to raise 278,000 from somewhere, and at that point could file a cheque, and instantly discharge the arrangement. However, for the October 2016 agreement it is far less clear as to what would need to be done. The effect appears to be to insert a permanent covenant on the Huish Park land, directly in Mr Hayward's name (note not in the name of the club, or any of the holding companies) on the Land Registry deeds for Huish Park. The club have repeatedly complained about restrictive covenants on the land at Huish Park that stop them from carrying out improvements, yet the board appear to have agreed to the insertion of a new covenant that will specifically prevent development without one person's consent.

The club's statement claims that the agreement has been made to allow for the 'possibility' of a 'short-term loan' being made. This seems an odd arrangement to me. If I get asked "can you lend me 50 - I'll pay you back next Saturday?" then I doubt that I'd go to the lengths of needing it to be a secured loan - I'd merely make a note to come and knock on their door on the Saturday. However, if someone came to me and said "can you lend me 50,000 for a long time?" then (assuming I had the money going spare!!) I would probably start to think "hang on, I need this in writing, as you might not be able to pay me back for 10 years" and that might come at a time when our relationship had changed - at that point I might ask for a secured loan agreement.

There's also something a bit weird for the club to twice state that this is part of their forecasting ("normal budgeting and forecasting" and "prudent financial management and forecasting") yet not know whether they actually need this 'short-term loan' or not. If it's part of your forecasting then it should be part of your plan. There are two circumstances in which you may need a secured loan - the "unexpected", when you pull your car out of your driveway, and the engine goes up in smoke, or the "expected" when your family's second child arrives and you plan for a bigger home and a larger mortgage. The club are saying this falls into the "expected" category, yet even four months after the filing of the document, they can't decide if they need it or not. If it's that uncertain, then why tie yourself into the agreement in the first place?

The Legal Charge makes clear that the agreement continues even if the club is sold to another party, and even if Mr Hayward passes away. The rights would pass to whoever he has identified in his will, or failing that, his next-of-kin, and would continue even if he sells the club. I know nothing about Mr Hayward's family, or if they have any interest in football clubs, but without wishing to cause offence, I do know that he will be 78 years old in May. The other members of the Yeovil Town board have a legal duty to ensure that any agreements that have been made directly with Mr Hayward do not place the club in any situation of uncertainty, if the unspoken event of mortality were to transpire. They should also ensure that if Mr Hayward sells the club in the future, that once any secured debts are paid off, then all obligations associated with those secured debts, or any other legal agreements, should also automatically expire.

If they've already done that, and can demonstrate how the October 2016 agreement can be torn up by specific clear actions (even if Mr Hayward objects to it, or is not around to give consent) then great. However, based on the information given within the club's statement, and in the Legal Charge agreement, it's hard to say what those clear actions would be. The club should clarify their position as soon as possible.


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Comments On This Article
Cruncher said ...

One might wonder whether an impossible development was always the intention as smokescreen to get a landsplit to get a mortgage hold on some of the assets to get a permanent hold on everything.
24/02/2017 23:09:43

andrew strickland said ...

I am horrified at the board's continued handling of the club, as they have reneged in my view on the core supporters at each and every point. To me the timing of this disclosure is no accident, in terms of timing, as I remain - despite David Bell's- positivity, certain that the latest Planning news really ends any chance of developing the site altogether. I have expressed my concerns to the club on numerous occasions, and even this week advised David Bell to recommend withdrawal of the application, and an open appraisal of what is gong on at YTFC.
If as he says the Planners are simply being political, that is dangerous, and by way of this platform challenge him to get a statement from Simon Fox to that effect, thereby proving the application still has a future. I think the latest news stories go together, and the board are screwing up the land, as a response to the failure to meet basic Planning criteria. Which for the record could have been progressed in a far more policy friendly way. Absolutely frightening what damage JF et al are wreaking on our club.
John Fry if ever there was a time for honesty, this is it
25/02/2017 07:02:47

Will P said ...

How does the registration of our Ground as a community asset by the glovers trust affect the legalities of this charge?
25/02/2017 09:23:03

Badger said ...

We'd need a lawyer's view on this. However, as I see it, the Legal Charge acts as security against the land/stadium. If you fail to keep up with your mortgage repayments, then your bank repossesses your house. So if the Football Club fails to keep up any repayment agreement with Norman Hayward, then he would take direct control of the stadium. As I see it, that wouldn't be a sale of the land - it would be repossession based on the debt value.

If the club were to fall into administration though, things become more complicated. Here I think the Trust's ACV registration would be invoked as the Administrator sells the club as a going concern to a new owner. So the Trust would need to be informed. What I'm not sure on is where things would stand on the more recent Legal Charge - in that case there is no money owed, and so no default on the Charge. However, the club's directors appear to have authorised an insertion directly into the Land Deeds under Hayward's name, which could then see him belligerently block the sale of the land to any party he didn't like (including the Trust) but might put the future of the club into a stalemate situation. That's where I'd really like the other YTFC Directors to justify their decision-making here, and to demonstrate that those 'minor' Directors could dissolve the Legal Charge without NH's consent.
27/02/2017 12:24:26

andrew strickland said ...

David Bell, if ever you want to prove that there is any openness and integrity in the board/directors action, you have the perfect opportunity.
27/02/2017 15:48:39

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01/04/2010 The End Of An Era Taff Link
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19/03/2010 From Hero To Zero Taff Link
17/03/2010 Another One Bites The Dust (Part 2) Taff Link
14/03/2010 L1: Yeovil 4 Hartlepool 0 Taff Link
11/03/2010 The Loan Arranger Bites Back Taff Link
04/03/2010 White Men Speak With Forked Tongue Taff Link
28/02/2010 L1: Yeovil 1 Franchise FC 0 Taff Link
26/02/2010 Singing The Blues Taff Link
23/02/2010 Stam Suffers An Unkind Cut Taff Link
19/02/2010 One Year On Taff Link
17/02/2010 L1: Yeovil 0 Colchester Utd 1 Taff Link
14/02/2010 L1: Yeovil 0 Gillingham 0 Taff Link
11/02/2010 Humble Pie Taff Link
05/02/2010 Darren Way Retires Taff Link
04/02/2010 Specualtion (sic) Is Damaging Taff Link
31/01/2010 Yeovil 0 Huddersfield 1 Taff Link
28/01/2010 The Welsh Connection Taff Link
24/01/2010 L1: Yeovil 2 Exeter City 1 Taff Link
22/01/2010 Exeter Preview Taff Link
18/01/2010 Orient Preview Taff Link
16/01/2010 Water Shame, Another Game Off Taff Link
05/01/2010 Snow Joke For Anyone Taff Link
30/12/2009 A Man For All Seasons Taff Link
27/12/2009 L1: Yeovil 4 Wycombe 0 Taff Link
22/12/2009 Draws Are Not Enough Taff Link
18/12/2009 Hartlepool Preview Taff Link
13/12/2009 L1: Yeovil 3 Norwich 3 Taff Link
11/12/2009 Bah, Humbug! Taff Link
07/12/2009 L1: MK Dons 2 Yeovil 2 Taff Link
04/12/2009 Franchise Preview Taff Link
02/12/2009 L1: Yeovil 1 Walsall 3 Taff Link
30/11/2009 Should I Stay Or Should I Go Taff Link
28/11/2009 Reality Bites Taff Link
23/11/2009 New Kid On The Blog Taff Link
22/11/2009 L1: Yeovil 1 Charlton 1 Taff Link
20/11/2009 How Green Was My Valley Taff Link
16/11/2009 L1: Yeovil 1 Southend 0 Taff Link
09/11/2009 FA Cup R1: Oxford 1 Yeovil 0 Taff Link
06/11/2009 Up For The Cup Taff Link
02/11/2009 Premiership Giants 4 Plucky No-Hopers 0 Taff Link
30/10/2009 Hayward Back On Board Taff Link
27/10/2009 But It's Alright Now, In Fact It's A Gas! Taff Link
22/10/2009 Glovers On A Roll Taff Link
18/10/2009 L1: Yeovil 3 Carlisle 1 Taff Link
16/10/2009 Carlisle Preview Taff Link
11/10/2009 Slade alive!* Yeovil 2 Brighton 2 Taff Link
09/10/2009 Russell's Return A Reality Check Taff Link
05/10/2009 A Curate's Egg Taff Link
02/10/2009 Sweet FA From The FA Taff Link
28/09/2009 Braving the Lions Den* Taff Link
27/09/2009 L1 : Yeovil 2 Brentford 0 Taff Link
25/09/2009 Welcome Back Shaun Taff Link
20/09/2009 Patience Is A Virtue Taff Link
17/09/2009 Happy Days Are Here Again Taff Link
14/09/2009 L1: Yeovil 2 Stockport 2 Taff Link
10/09/2009 Crumbs Of Comfort Taff Link
06/09/2009 L1: Yeovil 0 Swindon 1 Taff Link
03/09/2009 Told You So Taff Link
31/08/2009 There Used To Be A Football Club Over There Taff Link
28/08/2009 Bookies Giving Money Away! Taff Link
26/08/2009 Football's Gone Mad Taff Link
23/08/2009 That's Entertainment! Taff Link
21/08/2009 Back To The Future, Part 2 Taff Link
18/08/2009 Time For Some Changes? Taff Link
14/08/2009 No Smoke Without Fire Taff Link
12/08/2009 Don't Panic! Don't Panic! Taff Link
11/08/2009 Obika's Back! Taff Link
09/08/2009 Calm Down, Calm Down Taff Link
07/08/2009 Mystic Taff's Season Predictions Taff Link
04/08/2009 Squad Shapes Up For Challenging Season Taff Link
02/08/2009 PSF - Yeovil 3 Tiverton 0 Taff Link
31/07/2009 Gary Roberts Ain't Our Friend Taff Link
29/07/2009 Yeovil 3 Bristol City 2 Taff Link
27/07/2009 In's, Out's and Maybe's Part 6 Taff Link
24/07/2009 And Then There Were None Taff Link
22/07/2009 Yeovil 0 Derby County 2 Taff Link
20/07/2009 In's, Out's And Maybe's Part 5 Taff Link
18/07/2009 Challenge Cup Giving Grounds For Concern? Taff Link
16/07/2009 Season Review - October '08 Taff Link
15/07/2009 Plucky Minnows Almost Cause A Shock Taff Link
14/07/2009 Just like London buses... Taff Link
11/07/2009 The Summer Of Silent Speculation Taff Link
07/07/2009 Back To The Future Taff Link
05/07/2009 Skivo's game's a good 'un, part 2 Taff Link
04/07/2009 Skivo's game's a good 'un Taff Link
02/07/2009 SP On The Wing Again Taff Link
30/06/2009 Peltier's A Terrier Taff Link
29/06/2009 Stefan Stam's A Glover Taff Link
28/06/2009 In's, Out's and Maybe's Part 4 Taff Link
19/06/2009 New(ish) Kid On The Block Taff Link
16/06/2009 Let's be 'aving you! Taff Link
15/06/2009 Seven by Seven Taff Link
12/06/2009 The Man not in Black Anymore Taff Link
10/06/2009 Danny Hutchins Signs Up Taff Link
08/06/2009 Season review - September 08 Taff Link
03/06/2009 Season review - August 08 Taff Link
02/06/2009 Season review - July 08 Taff Link
29/05/2009 Perceptions and Season Ticket Sales Taff Link
26/05/2009 No Worthington, no way Taff Link
24/05/2009 Southern bias? Taff Link
21/05/2009 In's, out's and maybe's part 3 Taff Link
16/05/2009 Another one bites the dust Taff Link
15/05/2009 Marching on (in League One) together Taff Link
14/05/2009 In's and out's and maybe's, part 2 Taff Link
13/05/2009 Ins and outs and maybe's, part 1 Taff Link
10/05/2009 A profitable business Taff Link
09/05/2009 Mystic Taff's squad predictions Taff Link
07/05/2009 Hello, again Taff Link
13/03/2009 Mama Weer All Crazee Now Taff Link
12/03/2009 You really couldn't make it up Taff Link
11/03/2009 Leeds 4 - 0 Yeovil Taff Link
10/03/2009 You couldn't make it up Taff Link
09/03/2009 Muff in the brown stuff Taff Link
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