Venue: Raith Suite, Stark’s Park, Pratt Street, Kirkcaldy
Present: G Anderson, J Anderson, A Brand, T Cunningham, G Condie, J Drysdale, I Ferguson, A Gourlay, N Langtree, M Melville, D Morrison, A Nicholson, T Phillips, C Pilmar, J Proctor, R Robson, A Russell, A Thomson, C Thomson, B White, M Wilson, R Wishart.
Apologies: A Beedie, E Doig, G Howie, J Knight, J Lindsay, C McFarlane, B Marshall, G Meldrum, P Murray, A Proctor
Introduction / Welcome
The Chairman thanked everyone for attending the meeting and noted the apologies. He introduced the Society Board and noted that Collas Pilmar had been co-opted as a Board member since the last general meeting.
Update on Trusts and Football Environment
There were now an increasing number of Trusts operating throughout the UK. In Scotland with the establishment of dedicated Supporters Direct support and funding there were now more Trusts being instigated. In many cases Trusts were being established in response to crises at clubs eg Motherwell.
The Secretary noted that membership now stood at 89. The average monthly income was £805. This comprises the monthly standing orders plus an average of the annual fee payments.
The Chairman reported that at 8th June the balance of the account stood at £6,968.77
The Trust had completed its commitment to investing a total of £4,200 in the Club’s Youth Development.
The Chairman noted that over £14,215 had been raised by the Trust.
Constitution / Registration update
The Chairman stated that the Trust was close to full registration as an I&P Society. The registration process was now being handled by the Registrar in London which should ensure a smoother passage.
Supporters’ Direct would provide set-up/suport money of £1000 per trust plus legal costs of registration. This would be provided on a matched funding basis. Thus the Raith Trust would gain £1000 of support if it matched it with £1000. This would provide for an immediate saving of approximately £700 in the registration process.
Election of Chairman and other Board members
The Chairman explained he was standing down as there was a potential conflict of interest with his new job with Supporters’ Direct. He was content to stay on as a member of the Trust Board.
The Chairman called for any nominations for Chairman. None were forthcoming. The Chairman explained that he had already spoken to George Howie about the situation and GH had agreed to be put forward for election as Chairman in the absence of any other nominations. George Howie was duly unanimously elected as Chairman.
The Secretary called for nominations for the position of Membership Secretary. He explained that with the expansion of membership there was now the need to appoint someone who would be dedicated to dealing with membership issues. The Secretary added that he would be happy to take on the role of Membership Secretary if someone wished to be Secretary. Alan Russell volunteered to be put forward as a board member and was duly unanimously elected to the Board.
Update on Youth Development
The Chairman reported he had arranged a meeting with Danny Smith and Jim Whyte to discuss the Trust’s investment in the erstwhile Youth Development programme. This had been cancelled at short notice by DS and had not been re-arranged.
A discussion between the Chairman and Jim Whyte had taken place where the main costs of Youth development had been identified as new tracksuits, transportation and pitch costs. It was also stated that an extra tracksuit was available to the Trust to use how they saw fit and that the bank account for the Youth set up had been closed.
A discussion ensued regarding the wisdom of cutting the Youth Development programme. It was acknowledged as a cost-cutting measure so as the club could divert resources to the target of re-gaining First Division football. However, it was also thought that in future it would take a considerable amount of effort to resurrect an effective youth programme.
The Secretary stated he was disappointed that the Club had not informed the Trust that it was cutting the Youth Development programme. The Trust had effectively been the main sponsor of the U18s and if contacted it would have been prepared to discuss the business case to assist with the support of the Youth Development programme.
It was suggested that the Trust might fund and manage a youth development programme which was independent of the club. This was already the situation at one club in England. The Board replied that at this stage in the Trust’s development a separate youth development programme would be too ambitious.
Trust Plans and Direction
The Chairman explained that the Trust had set up a small Working Group to consider an alternative business plan for Raith Rovers Football Club. The main driver for this, was that the Trust Board felt that there was still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the club. The Trust Board felt that at present the Club was vulnerable to the possibility of the current board resigning if any ongoing financial losses became unsustainable.
The Board felt that in many aspects the Club was drifting downwards.
a. Playing standards – relegation
b. Reduced crowds
c. Lack of coherent Youth Development policy
d. Poor PR and marketing
e. Loss of standing in the community
Several members commented that the present Board should be given credit for keeping the club afloat. This was acknowledged and it was generally agreed that the current Directors had no doubt self-financed particular areas of the club’s operations. As stated above, the club’s position could be considered vulnerable in this respect.
The meeting agreed that the Working Group should continue with its research into an alternative/emergency business plan and keep members informed on a regular basis.
Several members requested that the Trust should pursue the aim of having a member of the Trust being invited to be a Director of Raith Rovers Football Club.
A discussion ensued as to the advantages/disadvantages of this course of action.
The two main counter arguments were:
a. Achieving or attempting to achieve Director status would indicate to Raith fans in general that the Trust was serious about influencing the club’s decision making process.
b. A Trust member as a Director would be compromised and would not be able to assert his/her independence.
Apart from the initial good PR it might backfire on the Trust. The meeting appeared evenly divided on the merits of this course of action. It was left open that the Trust Board, if possible, should discuss this topic with the club Chairman.
The meeting noted that the Club had appointed a Community Development Officer, Ken Foster. It was agreed to invite KF to speak at the next general meeting.
Any other business
The Board announced, that it in order to raise both the profile of the Trust and the club, it was considering sponsoring a youth league or organising a youth football tournament. The meeting agreed that this was a positive step. The suggestion was made that it should be targetted at the u-11s as this would involve parents as well.
It was agreed that the Trust would sponsor a player in season 2002-2003. Ian Brown was suggested.
Classic strips – the meeting debated the Trust putting up the money to have a classic strip produced. Cost to produce was £18 per strip with the minimum order being 25. Profit to the Trust with a % to the club. The out-going Chairman asked that some basic market research be done to attempt to gauge the demand so that the Trust did not lose money.
The meeting also agreed to set up a small working group charged with increasing the Trust’s membership.
Date of next meeting
No firm date set, but Board thought that October- November would be appropriate.
Vote of thanks
Tom Phillips thanked the out-going Chairman for his hard work and enthusiasm in driving forward the establishment of the Trust. The meeting gave James Proctor a warm round of applause.