Raith Rovers FC – General Meeting, 12th February 2015

The Fife Free Press published an excellent article summarising the recent General Meeting at Starks Park. For those who couldn’t make it, here is some more detail on the information presented by the club to those present.

The meeting began with new club chairman Alan Young presenting some highlights from the accounts for the year to 30th June 2014. The club is in an improved trading position, with a £97.5k profit due to a 23% increase in turnover. The biggest factors in this improvement were prize money, gate revenue and TV money from the Scottish Cup run (particularly the games against Hibs and St Johnstone), and from the Ramsdens Cup victory (although this was a much smaller source of income than the Scottish Cup). The payroll-to-turnover ratio is 54.7%, and costs are under control. For comparison, the current payroll is £180k lower than in 2010. All but £80k of the liabilities in the accounts are to “internal” creditors, i.e. New Raith Rovers, Raith Rovers Holdings, and Starks Park Properties, and there is no bank borrowing. Tax payments are up-to-date. In the words of club chairman Allan Young “we’re gradually getting there”.

The draft accounts for the current year are showing a small loss for the first six months, and an anticipated profit for the current quarter. Financial performance for the fourth quarter will be heavily dependent on results on the pitch. The financial rewards for our final league position vary greatly, as does the prize money and possible TV money from the Scottish Cup if our run extends past the quarter final.

CEO Eric Drysdale commented on some of the non-financial developments at the club:

  • Maurice Malpas has been brought in to strengthen the football side.
  • Physiotherapy, sports science and training facilities have been enhanced.
  • Continued stadium improvements and maintenance have been made during 2014, and there may be further improvements to the Railway Stand with grant funding.
  • The RRFC board have a Strategy Day scheduled in March to look at medium- to long-term planning issues.
  • The Chairman and CEO will meet with the management team of Grant Murray, Laurie Ellis and Maurice Malpas in the next few weeks to begin planning for next season.

John Sim spoke on behalf of Starks Park Properties about the stadium:

  • Some areas where improvements are required, e.g. ladies toilets in the South Stand.
  • The possible introduction of safe-standing is being evaluated, possibly at the front of the South Stand.
  • Starks Park Properties is more than halfway through the period of its loan with the Allied Irish Bank, with more than 40% of the loan amount amortised. The low interest rates over the past few years have been of great benefit.

Tom Phillips spoke about the changes to the youth football set-up:

  • The move to a Regional Academy was driven by the SFA’s 2020 Performance Strategy, not by financial motivations as was reported in some sources at the time.
  • The principle behind the academy is that it enables the best players to play with and against each other, with the best coaches, and in the best possible facilities.
  • The previous approach wasn’t leading to enough players being given apprenticeships – there were a lot more youth players (220 across the four Fife clubs, compared to the 96 at the Regional Academy) but a very high drop-off rate once they were over-age
  • The Regional Academy is in a stable position now after some initial teething problems, with competitive squads and committed coaches.

Dave Wann outlined some key issues from his perspective as representative of the supporters’ shareholding:

  • The club has supported the development of the Raith Rovers Community Foundation, which will raise the profile of the club and enable us to do a lot more than is possible from within the football club itself.
  • The board’s reaction to the recent poor run of results was positive and constructive rather than ‘knee-jerk’ – this is a reflection of the club living up to the principles set out in the Raith Rovers Concordat.
  • There will be an election later this year for Dave Wann’s position on the board.

Tom Phillips provided some additional information about the Raith Rovers Community Foundation:

  • The foundation operates at arms length to the club, and is in the process of registering as a charity.
  • The foundation has benefited from grant funding from the SPFL Trust, which has been ring-fenced for use by the foundation.
  • A community worker will be employed by the foundation, and this position will be advertised shortly.
  • Dave Wann and Tom Phillips drove the development of this idea, and the foundation now has 8 trustees.

There was a lengthy and lively Q&A session, with various members of the board plus Grant Murray, Laurie Ellis and Maurice Malpas participating.

The meeting closed with a surprise for one shareholder present, when Alan Young presented his predecessor Turnbull Hutton with a framed certificate and announced his appointment as Honorary Life President of the club. Turnbull received a standing ovation from the room.

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