Wrexham Supporters Trust members give go ahead to Racecourse Lease

On Tuesday, March 29 I was part of history when I attended a Wrexham Supporters Trust Special General Meeting. Details of the evening can be found below:

 

MyRacecourseAt a packed Special General Meeting held at the Catrin Finch Centre on Tuesday night, members heard presentations from Board members recommending the entering into a 99 year lease for the Racecourse Ground as well as the transfer of the stadium operations and staff to WAFC. Detailed information had already been made available to the membership including on the website.

Trust Chairman Peter Jones introduced members of the Board and set out the background to this momentous decision which, if passed, would see the Club taking back control of its iconic home, the Racecourse Ground.

Gavin Jones, Board member and lead negotiator with Glyndwr (ably assisted by Trust member and solicitor Rob Parry), explained that under the lease there would be a Rent of £100,000 per annum payable between WST Assets Ltd and Glyndwr University with the Ability to make capital payments to reduce the rent for the residue of the term based on a value of £1.35m being retained throughout the term of the lease.

Responsibility for all statutory compliance and carrying out any works associated with compliance with the stadium safety certificate would rest with the Club who would be able to sublet or licence the use of the Stadium to Crusaders Rugby League Club (or a successor club).

Should we remain under the current licence agreement with Glyndwr costs would rise from £205,000 pa to £350,000 pa anyway with no ability to increase income from the Stadium.

The proposed deal also included the Transfer of all stadium operations and staff to Wrexham AFC, subject to consultation, with the Club to honour existing bookings. The premises alcohol license will be transferred to Wrexham AFC and all sponsorship including stadium naming rights, the GUS stand and title shirt sponsors will cease at the end of 2015/16 with the Club able to secure future deals.

There then followed a question and answer session with Board members about the implications of the proposed deal.

The University did not wish to sell the freehold. A 99 year lease was the next best option to secure the Clubs tenure at our historic ground. The creation of WST Assets Ltd was to ensure that the lease was safe from “predatory hands” and was separate from the Club. One of the resolutions ensured that members had to approve the selling of shares etc. in that company.

The proposed deal did not include Colliers Park which was a separate piece of real estate but talks had begun about its future use and plans put in place should the Club not have access to it in the future.

As well as those present at the meeting, members had the opportunity to vote on the resolutions online and by proxy.

Voting

Independent Trust Secretary Alan Fox announced the results of voting on the seven resolutions necessary to authorise the lease and the transfer of stadium operations etc. as follows:

Resolution 1 (directing the Board to enter into the 99 year lease between WST Assets Ltd and Glyndwr University etc. on the terms of the heads of terms)
For: 777
Against: 11
Abstain: 1
This motion was carried

Resolution 2 (directing the Board to give guarantees by the Trust in favour of Glyndwr University to the obligations of WST Assets Ltd pursuant to the lease)
For: 772
Against: 12
Abstain: 5
This motion was carried

Resolution 3 (authorising the Board to direct WAFCs acquisition of the business operation of the Racecourse from Glyndwr University on the terms of the heads of terms)
For: 779
Against: 8
Abstain: 2
This motion was carried

Resolution 4 (directing the Board to direct that WAFC gives guarantees in favour of Glyndwr University to the obligations of WST Assets Ltd pursuant to the lease)
For: 768
Against: 10
Abstain: 11
This motion was carried

Resolution 5 (authoring the Board to enter into such agreements and take such actions necessary to give effect to these resolutions)
For: 774
Against: 10
Abstain: 5
This motion was carried

Special Resolution 6 (that the Rules of the Society be amended so that it may not sell etc. its interest in WST Assets Ltd without a special resolution passed by Trust members)
For: 778
Against: 7
Abstain: 4
This motion was carried

Special Resolution 7 (that the Articles of WST Assets Ltd be amended so that it cannot sell etc. the lease without a special resolution of Trust members )
For: 780
Against: 6
Abstain: 3
This motion was carried

All the resolutions necessary to direct the Board to complete the deal were therefore passed with very large majorities.
Spencer Harris, Trust and Club Board member then gave a presentation outlining the Boards vision for the future of the stadium and how we could meet the significant challenges which lie ahead.

The key issues were:
• Racecourse is not being fully utilised throughout the year and loses money
• The Racecourse is an expensive asset
• It will take time to turn around the stadium fortunes
• We need to minimise the impact on the first team and quest for success

We need to rescue the Racecourse

We together will need to turn around the business as there is currently a gap of around £200k and we have to close it one way or another. That means generating income both on match days and crucially throughout the year.

“My Racecourse” is going to be our way of positioning the Racecourse to generate income on matchday and non matchday – to use the stadium for parties, conferences and concerts.

My Racecourse is the plan for how we engage people to utilise the stadium and fans to help us generate breathing space.

Members shared their memories of what the Racecourse meant to them.

We need to Generate Breathing space – buy ourselves time to turn things around and, if we get that breathing space, we need to build the offer and infrastructure to generate income. That offer needs to be good quality and make people want to come back for more. This needs to be worked through and can only be delivered over time and is why we need the breathing space. Longer term, building the offer should lead to us strengthening the club financially’

The breathing space challenge means we need to generate an additional £200k income for next season.
• We have a gap on day 1
• We cannot magic another £200k per annum income overnight. £200k is an additional £550 profit every day for 365 days in the year over and above what the Racecourse does today
 Our Vision is that the Racecourse impact is eradicated by 2019
• 2019 onwards if we’ve done a great job then we hope the Racecourse can be a profit generator to go into the first team
• We would build the business year on year and therefore the breathing space challenge will lessen

We ALL need to pitch in if we are to achieve this.

My Membership- If 2,000 members upped their club ownership contribution by £1per week in a standing order -just £1 this would give us £100k and put us a long way on the road to generating the breathing space we need. That’s just half of our membership making this conscious decision.

My Commitment-If we can get a crowd of 7,000 plus at the My Racecourse “house warming” game v Braintree this would be an additional £40k
– If we could get on average every fan through the gate next season to spend £1 come earlier, drink in the centenary, the 1873 suite not in town this is £100k
– Think about using the Racecourse for any non matchday occasions you might be looking for a venue:
– Birthday Parties / Anniversary Celebrations
– Persuade your boss or if you have your own business use the Racecourse for your Christmas Party

My Donation-If 2,000 season ticket holders donated back their early bird discount [£30 for an adult] again equivalent to £1 per week this would give us £60k and give us the breathing space we need. If our average crowd donated £25 each equivalent to 50p per week this would give us £100k and the breathing space we need.

We need to turn around the Racecourse

Again it’s fallen to this generation of fans to secure a community asset for North Wales.

Breathing Space is vital to give us the time to do it, if everything suggested tonight came true that would give £300k into the budget and help us minimise the impact on the first team and our quest for success.

We all have to help create that breathing space whilst we build the offer and the business of the Racecourse.

What we do together will be the sacrifice that will continue to be enjoyed by your childrens, childrens, childrens children.

The meeting discussed ways to create this Breathing Space.

Chair Peter Jones closed the meeting by thanking everyone for using their vote to authorise the Board to bring the Racecourse back within the control of the Club and its owners- the fans.

The full WST SGM 2016 Presentation is available HERE

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