Venue – CCFC Training Ground. !
Tim Fisher (CCFC), Dan Walker (CCFC), Peter Ward (Chair), Jonathan Strange
(Deputy Chair), Adam Dent, Kevin Kelly, Pat Raybould, Ray Stephens, Steve
Bennett, Kevin Heffernan, Darren Davies, Pat Abel, Alan McGory !
Chris McGrath, Jan Mokrzycki, Steve Brown, Jim Brown !
The meeting began with Tim Fisher giving an update on the current situation
regarding Administration. !
Tim reiterated that the two parties disagreed over access to matchday revenues
and that the proposed deal that has been widely reported about could not be
agreed to. !
Tim stated that the club had no choice but to place the club into administration
when they did, despite numerous requests to the council. Tim also stated that the
cost cutting plan of ACLs preferred administrator would have been disastrous for
the club and its staff. SISU had no choice but to place CCFC Ltd into administration
themselves in order to retain control and save jobs. !
With regards to what happens next, Tim fully expects the club to be out of
administration, and out of a transfer embargo in the summer. The club have to
confirm to the football league where they will play their matches next season by
the end of May, so a decision must be made by then. If a deal can’t be reached,
the club already have contingency plans with 3 clubs to play next season away
from the Ricoh, and move ahead with plans for a new stadium – But this is
categorically NOT their preferred option. !
Tim maintained that a deal for the club to stay at the Ricoh Arena is still the
preferred option – so long as it works for the club. !
Kevin Heffernan asked for an update on the current situation regarding the
Tim Fisher stated that the agreement with the Alan Higgs Centre was in CCFC Ltd
and therefore was torn up when CCFC Ltd were forced into administration. CCFC
Holdings attempted to do a deal but this was rejected. The academy made
contingency plans to base themselves at Warwick University, since the The Alan
Higgs Centre have been back in touch regularly requesting that a deal be reached
to have the academy back. !
In the long term, Tim stated that the ideal scenario is to build a new training
facility which can be the home of the First Team, Development Squad and
Academy. The club have already been looking for sites in South Warwickshire. One
of Tims major concerns is that the actions which led to this situation have caused
young players to be tempted away form CCFC by rival clubs. !
Steve Bennett asked Tim to provide more information on possible locations for a
new stadium. !
Tim began by describing what happened with Rotherham United, an example that
was given to them by the Football League. A local businessman bought Rotherham
United who were in admin at the time and playing at millmoor. He wanted to buy
the club and ground to ensure increased revenue. The local council were making it
extremely difficult. He was forced to initially move to the Don Valley arena – said
to fans give me 5 years to build stadium. He bought land in Central Business
District of Rotherham, and built a ground that was suitable for the club, ensuring a
sustainable future. !
Tim has spent a lot of time with Rotherham and other clubs to try and learn from
them, and they have received overwhelming support from other clubs an the
Football League. !
Tim reinforced his desire to stay at Ricoh and explained that there are number of
locations where a new ground could be built, outside of Coventry City Council
borders, but still within the Coventry ‘area’, potential sites include Nuneaton,
Warwickshire or Rugby. !
However, a new ground would take 5 years. Ground sharing would be unavoidable
and the club don’t want to go down that route, but if the council won’t agree a
deal on the Ricoh, there will be no option. !
To give an example of the potential benefits, a new stadium may cost £30m to
build, but the financial benefits to the club of this are clear. The amount of
revenue we are missing out on is crippling. !
Tim then explained the commitment from Joy Seppala to make this work. He
explained that Joy and her husband are extremely passionate about sport and
education – and that CCFC is a great example of how the two could be married
together. She understands the long term benefits to the city of making it work, and
it is a major reason why the club recruited Steven Pressley, because of his
commitment to the Academy. !
Steve Bennett suggested that there must be a finite point where SISU would walk
away from the club. !
Tim confirmed that SISU will continue to fund in the short term if long term there
is a viable business model. !
Jon Strange asked Tim why didn’t we buy share in the Ricoh earlier?
Tim stated that a deal had been reached last summer, but the council reneged on
the deal. Tim also suggested serious questions needed to be asked by the Coventry
Taxpayers as to why they bailed out ACL last year with tax payers money, and to
the whole history of their relationship with the club and their role in why the club
are in its current position. !
Ray Stephens suggested that the Compass contract must be causing a problem?
Tim confirmed this and said that he thinks the contract with Compass runs until
about 2018. !
Darren Davies asked Tim what his vision of the future is?
Tim wants at least a breakeven business, where any free cash flow is invested in
what’s on the pitch. Previous boards got the model wrong, and bought bad players.
But Pressley has been inspirational in terms of bringing academy players through
and showing what could be achived. But we need the balance – priority is still
promotion back to the championship. Graham Brown, club scout, has watched 2
matches a day and travelled 1000 miles in the past 2 weeks in an attempt to
prepare for player recruitment this summer !
Dan Walker made the point that no-one wanted to leave Ricoh and that
operational staff at both ACL and the club still get on really well both
professionally and personally. He also reiterated that the fans have been great and
the club staff have been remarkable given what has been thrown at them over the
past year. Dan stated how it has cost the club ticket sales and that they are coming
up with lots of ideas to raise awareness this summer and pass on information. !
Peter asked what information would be provided to fans.
Tim said that Dan and his team are preparing for season ticket sales to begin from
1st June. Pricing dependent on where we play but they expect to be out of
administration, out of a transfer embargo, selling season ticket and back in
operation early June. !
Tim admitted that in the past, the clubs PR has been bad but that the club, and
SISU are now engaged with PR agencies to try and improve this. !
Steve Bennett asked about subsidised travel if we play elsewhere.
Dan Walker confirmed that they were thinking about all the different options for
this and that something would happen, whether that be discounted tickets or free
coaches, or something else. But there are lots of options for how to make this
Ray Stephens asked where will might play and if we could move back mid-season
Tim couldn’t reveal the clubs who they had spoken to as they had confidentiality
agreements in place, more so for those clubs as they need to manage the
relationship with their fans. !
Jon Strange asked what Tims gut instinct was about what might happen.
Tim said when he spoke to the Football League a week before they were issued
with the Administration order from ACL, the Football League said no council would
ever do that – 1 week later they did it. The council seem to be making irrational
! Jon asked Tim to explain why SISU are still here? And why they came in the first
Tim said originally it was Southampton, Man City, Villa and Cardiff. It was Onye and
Ray Ranson as advisor with the plan being to buy a championship team, get them
promoted and sell. SISU wanted to put in £10m but only invested £5m because the
previous regime hadn’t paid PAYE/VAT/etc and £9m bill was found. Tim explained
that the 50% stake was sold for £2m. No idea why, given that at the time ACL was
valued at £37m. !
Steve Bennett asked about further points deductions on exiting administration.
Tim didn’t think this was likely given that there would be no financial gain or
competitive advantage by exiting administration. !
Kevin asked about how they would exit Administration?
Tim said they would pay off the creditors, including ACL, in full.
Tim went on to try a clarify the numbers relating to the Ricoh deal. The rent was
agreed at £400k. The club were also due a rates rebate. Club have been paying
£197k a year. They Contacted the valuation office and got it reduced from £197 to
£60k a year, and got a rebate for last 3 years. (£137k per year). !
With regard to Matchday revenues, council state F&B is worth £100k. Last year
Charlton Athletic F&B turnover £1.8m with a 40% margin.
Bottom line is we don’t know the answers – either the F&B margins are very poor
or the turnover numbers aren’t clear. Either way, they need more clarity.
The club also want car parking – the cars are there because of football. !
Peter Ward asked Tim to confirm the current board of directors?
Tim is a powerless director of CCFC LTD, and Tim Fisher and Mark Labovitch are
directors on holdings. Tim is also a director of SBS&L !
Peter stated that the blame continues to come back to SISU, but there is are no
non-SISU board members and that the management structure is unclear to fans. !
Tim stated that it would be unfair in the current situation to invite anyone onto
the board. !
Jon Strange added that the public perception of the club is SISU – no outsiders. !
Kevin Kelly suggested that SISU should apologise for past mistakes. !
Adam Dent confirmed that Joy Seppala did apologise and admit to mistakes in an
interview published by the telegraph last year. !
Andy Powell suggested that the PR by the club has been poor for a long time, and
that this is not the first time the SCG has drawn attention to it. Anything bad that
happens at the club is associated with SISU, and the club have major challenges to
overcome in getting the fans back onside.
! To close, Tim sated that SISU are genuinely trying to do the right thing by club and
put a long term plan in place. This might mean we have to make short term
decisions which are painful. But we will only do that if it is for the good of the club
in the long term. The club is categorically not for sale but needs to exit
administration, give Steven Pressley, his team and the players their full backing.
This means getting the transfer embargo removed and preparing for next season to
give the club the best possible chance of getting back to the championship. !
Date of Next Meeting confirmed as 5th June 2013 at 6pm. Venue to be confirmed –
Kevin Heffernan has offered CCFC Supporters Club on Freehold Street as available.