Minutes of Meeting 26th October 2022

In attendance from ATFC:
Shahid Azeem
Deane Wood
Waleed Khan
Terry Brown
Mark Butler
Matt Wigman
Alex Clark

In attendance from SC:
Laura Chiverton
Paul Breading
Martin Jessop
Sami Coxhead

LC thanks board for their attendance and introductions from SC committee 

MJ introduces redevelopment feedback – from committee perspective we are supportive of recent development news. 

DW confirmed there is no certain date for planning application but it will be next year.

DW continued to confirm that local elections and changes will not affect anything. The club do not believe council changes will change anything as they have been dealing across parties for some time. We have excellent relationship across all political parties

Wates have been selected over 3 other developers. Wates have been established over 125 years, with 4000 staff and over £1.6Billion business

The ground will be redeveloped, all avenues were explored, including moving ground but 100% staying in place.

DW mentioned that the redevelopment will certainly be going ahead as the stadium really does need work doing to it as it is not fit for purpose – this is not the board making money.

Within 6 or so weeks the club need to deliver their initial ‘Wishlist’ so hope to be able to deliver plans/a starting point of examples soon.

Profits from the land will go towards the stadium redevelopments. Ongoing income ideas and revenues are still in development as it depends on the final specifications. DW can’t see there is going to be anything major – such as a hotel or anything like that which is no longer being considered due to being advised about the sustainability and revenue streams from it. 

MJ mentions the importance of keeping the East Bank atmosphere. DW says the roof will need to be replaced due to condition.

MJ asks for clarification on the process of discussion with supporters and how that will go. DW suggest waiting until some form of drawings are initially in place or more information on what the council will pass and then the discussions can go from there.

LC mentions the miscommunication from Wates using the old previous graphic in a press release was confusing as it included things like the hotel etc. DW says there needs to be  a full discussion and viability plan but thinks this area will likely be flats but with a shop or similar underneath but all to be decided.

The Supporters Club are welcome to can put forward their Wishlist or things the supporters club would like to consider but DW mentions to keep realistic that it has to fit within the remit of expectation and cost.

SA emphasises that Wates do large developments and fully understand the importance of engagement. The board will soon develop their ‘Wishlist’. The aim is sustainability and ongoing income without making a plastic stadium. Work needs to be done asap and the stadium redevelopment will go ahead as the current ground is not fit for purpose and the council are aware how important it is to the town.

In response to criticism received online about what has been achieved during the last ten years SA mentioned that one of the ongoing developments over time is the relationship the club now have with the council – resulting in the lease being offered.

MJ asks if there is a deadline on signing lease – SA mentions that the lease can be signed any time they want but it is not signed as the club would then be responsible for full repair. The existing lease runs out in 2024 – there is no issues with the signing of the lease and ultimately it is to keep the costs down for the club. As stated it can be signed anytime – it is approved and there is no expiry. DW confirms they are always in constant contact with the council.

LC ask as a cost cutting idea if the ground may end up being a three sided stadium to allow for more housing – SA says definitely not, four sided ground.  

SA says Wates have a developer who specialises in stadiums, everything will be in stages. It is early stages but the club and Wates have been in discussions for around a year. Wates have already invested in ongoing checks and have invested a lot in the process so are very much now invested.

LC asks when the club will see a benefit — SA says when planning for housing is sorted the club will get the money for the land and then the redevelopment will start on the stadium.

DW says real credit should be given to SA about the progress and relationships developed with the council and developers that have taken a long time.

Referring back to the progress over the last ten years SA stated that there was no long term plan by the club prior to him taking over. Nothing was sustainable and the only aim was to get back to the football league. SA mentions the club had debts as far back as 2004 from previous minutes seen. The club had debts of 1.4 million when in administration and SA said that was paid in 8 months but that then left no working capital to be immediately progressive. The previous aims have been to steady the ship and all staff, suppliers, PAYE, Tax and VAT have all been paid on time every month.

The achievements up to now has been working on ensuring the football club has a future which is achieved through the long lease and developing a sustainability plan. SA says of course the board are not happy about results in recent times and hopes that an increase in the sustainability project (through the use of the redeveloped ground etc) can source additional income to then be progressive. SA says as currently only getting 1400k/1500k at home means it is difficult to compete with teams that get 7k at home games in terms of money being self-generated by the club. DW adds to imagine the additional playing budget we would have if we had a gate of 7k every game.

MJ asks how additional incomes would work? SA clarifies this would be via facilities (although all up in discussion) but there is not going to be a hotel as per the original concept as they have been advised it would not be a wise investment. 

LC then addresses catering. AC says the cafe does not make enough money. Different foods were tried but people mainly just order burger and chips. An old supporters group stated a cafe and it did not work for them. The club earns from catering around the ground. If you put a cafe in the ground the club would lose money. Tried with Mamosa but low take up and there is no interest to compete with mobile units as a percentage of sales go to the club. With the current cost of living and low crowds the existing income is steady and okay. 

AC then mentions that the initiative of £4 pints in the ground have seen more people coming to games early. 

SA says The Supporters Club can apply for funding for creation of fan zones – it might be worth thinking about as part of new development.

LC mentions about card payments on turnstiles. MB was disappointed as this was something that was mentioned a lot by supporters but is barley used on match days. MB also says the club lowered the cost for youth but nobody is using it. Only 18 fans. MB asks if The Supporters Club can engage with the fans to find out why these new things were requested but not being used.

SA mentions about setting up pre-scheduled meetings throughout the season so any questions and feedback can be collated and discussed. LC and AC to arrange future meetings.

MB asks if The Supporters Club have carried out due diligence on questions to make sure they are being asked by fans of the club. MB requests that all future questions are attributed so that The Supporters Club know the identity of each source so feedback and engagement can be properly relayed – especially challenging questions. DW wants challenging questions – nothing to hide.

SA mentions that the bill from Borehamwood has been received and is happy share it. Club want to be transparent – DW even suggests he would love to issue monthly open profit/loss statements to be fully transparent.  

LC mentions the club shirts have sold out and questions if there are issues with lead times or have the club just sold more than expected?  MW confirms two years worth were sold in two weeks. Others on order, slight supplier issue. Club want them asap and is as frustrated as the fans are. Training gear etc also on order but the up take is not as popular.

LC flags some recent social media highlighting text issues such as players names spelt wrong, Aldershot spelt wrong, kickoff times incorrect. MW says everyone makes mistakes but with social media it is seen by everyone. AC says the employee is young and learning.  SA wants to put on record how hard the employee works. AC explains how hard he works and his dedication to the club with an example of how they have gone above and beyond in recent weeks.

LC relays fan wall feedback and fans agree that it does not look great. One person apposed to it going down. MB suggests moving it to the back of the east bank so existing space can be used for advertising. SA mentions that the previous company behind the club mis-sold the idea of seats for life and the use of the word ‘forever’ as it is not realistic. LC says fans feedback is to honour any names etc when new ground is built but the current will either be removed or taken to the back of the East Bank.

LC turns questions towards managerial recruitment. TB is a key part of the recruitment process. TB mentions over 50+ applications have been received, including very high quality in terms of achievements and names. 5 or 6 will be shortlisted and interviewed. Ross has been doing well and so the club are not in panic mode to bring someone else in. SA says there is breathing space to do proper due diligence. SA says some of the big names in the applications are probably unrealistic in terms of salary expectations though. 

LC asks if TB is therefore happy to continue overseeing Ross. TB yes, the results will instigate how quick we appoint. 

SA asks if the Supporters Club can please encourage fans in for the remembrance game

LC asks if there is a way that we can we encourage any ground hoppers over world cup period. MB tried season ticket holder’s at discounted rate but that can upset current supporters.

MB addresses a question that all main sponsors being linked to redevelopment. Natta are no longer part of the process, there are no other sponsors involved. There could be, if Wates decided to use Natta but that is up to them. MB not sure what the issue would be even if they were.

LC asks SA to address comments from Shots Web. Even though not verified – SA has happily agreed to answer questions. The main one he would like to focus on is with regards to being criticised about the last ten years. The aim at take over was to secure the football club, otherwise it would have been liquidated. The starting point was to be kept in the league and get past the -10 points. From a business side, SA says the football club was on life support. Over time they have built strong links with the council while looking to make the club balance out with the aim of a long term vision of being a fully sustainable football club that can then compete. SA acknowledges results have not been great and wants to be competitive. But if we look at the league and competition that is not going to be instant. Home attendance as an example and also the size of Aldershot Town in comparison to others gives a challenging starting point. The playing surface is also another achievement as the playing surface at the club is one of the best. Overtime there have also been great commercial improvements. 

In response to another question SA does not want to get relegated that is not the aim at all. In reference to new ownership SA says If you can find someone who has the same commitment, passion and funds they are open for a discussion with anyone.

SA suggests the next meeting date of 15th December Thursday 4.30pm

Meeting concludes.