Wrexham Supporters Trust

If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Won’t Change You

It has been a busy old week that has included hospital visit to the cardiologist and physiotherapist, as well as stressful meetings with the Wrexham Supporters Trust board and illuminating emails from Welsh Labour bureaucrats  that clearly show that the Welsh Government have something to hide over the WILG debacle.

HEALTH 

It has been a mixed week health wise. Depending on where you stand, my visit to the cardiologist revealed good/bad news that my heart is in good working order and I don’t have to return to the cardiologist for another twelve months.

I have also been to see the physiotherapist who raised concerns about my posture in my wheelchair. This echoed concerns raised by the wheelchair assessment team who I visited a few weeks ago. While I was with the physiotherapist she showed me, on a skeleton, the extent of my scoliosis. It was upsetting to watch her bend the spine of the skeleton in to a disfigured position. I guess this is life with ataxia – constantly trying to come to terms with a disability that is forever stressing.

MEETING WITH WREXHAM SUPPORTERS TRUST 

On Wednesday night I was at a meeting with some familiar faces who I have mingled with for over thirty years, as a Wrexham AFC supporter. However, the majority of people at this meeting between the board of Wrexham Supporters Trust and the Disabled Supporters Association Committee did not seem to show any understanding of consideration to the plight of disabled supporters in general.

This is neither the time, nor place to go into a deep discussion of everything that was said at the meeting – I will save that for another day, but it should be noted that I was hugely disgruntled by the attitudes shown by a so-called ‘community club’.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS

I will be writing a separate blog dedicated to the highly suspicious actions of the Welsh Government in the latest communication as the battle to #SaveWILG continues and intensifies.

I am being put under an intense amount of pressure as my body deteriorates and being forced to fight for the right of disabled people against the Welsh Government, Wrexham Council and Wrexham AFC. Luckily I have been fighting all of my life and I have the strength and stamina to carry on standing up for what is right thanks to my amazing circle of friends and comrades…

TOM ALLEN 

36634891_10155554936421846_1430258593860419584_On Thursday evening [26/7/2018] I went to watch the supremely funny Tom Allen in action at William Aston Hall at Glyndwr University.

I have watched this comedian performing before, when he starred alongside Suzi Ruffell at the Catrin Finch Centre, which is also part of Glyndwr University.

When I heard that Allen was performing at the Catrin Finch Centre again, I quickly snapped up tickets. This was some time last year I think. Earlier this year I received a phone call saying that due to the high demand for tickets, the show would be moved to the larger William Aston Hall. I was disappointed by this as the Catrin Finch Centre is a more intimate venue, where comedians do not need to rely on the use of a microphone. This is good for me and my hearing, which struggles to fully grasp what is being said when a voice is projected through a microphone.

Last night proved that this is indeed the case. I was frustrated beyond belief as Allen energetically pranced around the stage in front of me, and came out with classic quips judging by the roars of laughter around me. Alas, I could not decipher any of the jokes and could only pick up on certain words such as ‘party rings’, ‘ham sandwiches’ and   ‘Phil Spencer’.

Subsequently, I decided to leave at the interval. This was no judgement on Tom Allen, but just another frustrating sign that my progressive condition is accelerating and stopping me from doing things that I enjoy. What I really needed was subtitles and this got me thinking. Last week, I attended a Disability Wales conference on Direct Payments in Newtown, Mid Wales. Disability Wales had organised for  Palyntype support to be available.

This is basically a machine for typing in shorthand, now often used in transcribing speech to text for deaf people.This transcription was projected on to a large screen so those that are hard of hearing can follow everything that is being said. I found this to be extremely useful and beneficial, and would have appreciated it last night. If I ever #SaveWILG this is something that I would like to campaign for being used in may more locations across the country, as we strive to make events accessible to all.

I am hoping for a quieter weekend…

WST notice of Annual General Meeting

WREXHAM SUPPORTERS TRUST

NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Wrexham Football Supporters’ Society (known as the Wrexham Supporters Trust, “WST”) will be held at 7.30pm on Thursday 26th May 2016 at the Centenary Club, The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham LL11 2AH.

Notice of Elections:
There will be three vacancies on the Trust Board. An Election Nominations Form accompanies this notice which must be completed and returned (with the candidate’s statement) to the Secretary WST AGM, “Freepost WST” by Friday 22nd April 2016. Members interested in standing will find information about the role below.

Candidates are also encouraged to send their nominations by email to secretary@wst.org.uk (this is not compulsory and should be in addition to the posted hard copy).

Should there be three or less candidates for the vacancies, there will not be a formal ballot of members but instead those people validly nominated will be put to the Annual General Meeting enbloc for an affirmative vote.

Call for Resolutions:
In addition to any resolutions that will be put forward by the Trust Board, members can submit their own resolutions to the meeting. Such a resolution must be submitted (in accordance with Rule 27 of the Society) to the Secretary by Thursday 28th April 2016. Please send any proposals to the Secretary WST AGM, ’ Freepost WST’ and preferably by email as well to secretary@wst.org.uk

Alan Fox
WST Independent Secretary

A season to remember…

Whatever happens in the final few games of the season, Wrexham fans can look back on a successful 2015/16 campaign with a well-earned sense of pride and achievement.

In January, our fan-owned club posted an operating profit for the first time in 15 years and last month Supporters Trust members voted overwhelmingly in favour of agreeing a 99-year lease with stadium owner Glyndwr University. Such progress shows the potential and ambition of our community club – a club that is open to everyone as shown through the remarkable work of the Disabled Supporters Association.

This will probably sound strange to most people, but one of my most cherished memories of 2015/16 came when we lost 1-3 against Woking at the Racecourse. It was a cold, dark and dismal January afternoon that I would have usually spent at home watching Final Score, but due to the fact that the DSA had worked tirelessly to open and maintain the swanky new viewing platform I was able to watch the match without getting drenched and with an excellent view of proceedings.

Dominic Vose scored a sublime free-kick, I got to meet the First Minister Carwyn Jones and I was also able to be a part of the crowd – it may have been a disappointed and disgruntled crowd, but at least I was part of it and not having to endure the waffling of Mark Clemmit.

The viewing platform has been a major success story for the club as a whole. It has drawn positive attention and admiration from the football world and beyond with visits from Lord Faulkner and Carwyn Jones, articles in the national press, plus a feature on the BBC national news. This new facility has also encouraged a push for clubs at the top of the game to follow the example we’ve set and has helped inspire the Accessible Grounds Bill that is currently going through the House of Commons.

The work that the Disabled Supporters Association has done is clearly not just benefiting Wrexham fans but disabled fans throughout the game. We can all be proud of this as all the work of the DSA relies on the generosity of sponsors, volunteers and fellow fans.

We do not want to rest on our laurels though. There is still much more work that needs to be done to make football matches accessible for all. I encourage everyone to get involved in this as there are many projects being run by the DSA and WST to help ensure our whole community can enjoy being part of our forward thinking community. We need help and support to establish a hearing loop at the ground, are currently working to become Dementia Friendly and recently held a Football v Homophobia day at the Racecourse.

In addition to all this we also need to keep pushing ahead with plans to build more viewing platforms. At the moment, we only have space to accommodate ten spectators in wheelchairs per match, but demand is far greater than this meaning that we have to operate a rota system. Therefore, supporters in wheelchairs cannot access the platform on a regular basis even though they want to support the club they love at every home game without having to put up with a poor pitch-level view and the risk of getting soaked. We also need to consider the needs of opposition supporters as everyone should be accommodated for at our stadium.

The DSA is currently approaching architects to design and price a second viewing platform to be built at the Racecourse. We have already shown other clubs the way forward with our wonderful facilities, but need to continue this good work to open our doors to everyone. After all, there is only so much of Mark Clemmit a man can stomach…

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