Thursday September 16 – Zoom
Jim Mitchell and Billy Atkinson gave brief summaries of recent events at 1921 and Holdings board level.
Jim explained that due to issues connected to COVID and other issues at the club, there were no current 1921 board meetings. However business was conducted by phone and email and it had been a busy time thanks to the new catering arrangements which the club had taken on themselves at the start of this season.
Billy admitted that the only issue fans cared about right now was succession. The Holdings board had been dealing with some other things like assigning funds for pitch renovation work and working on the playing budget for the season, but succession was the main concern for them, and had been for a long time. The current process had begun in 2019 when CUOSC had agreed to a succession plan along with the other shareholders. This plan became so advanced that Malcolm Nugent, our press officer had been liaising with a PR man working for EWM. However the plans changed and we had made it clear that we did not agree with the changed version. In the meantime a form of agreement was reached between EWM and the EFL but this was not revealed to the other shareholders, including CUOSC. The pandemic then intervened. Earlier this year, there was a series of meetings where we stated our new position. Ensuing discussions had brought about the current plan to try and find a way through the impasse. This had been delayed a little by holidays, some taken by Billy and some by other people involved, including lawyers. The process was about to recommence and would continue into October.
Billy made it clear CUOSC would only talk about the details when there was a firm decision to back (or otherwise). He said CUOSC would only back a succession plan that was good for CUFC.
Simon Clarkson said he was surprised about the length of time the talks had dragged on for and was concerned about the lack of openness when compared to the recent takeover at Wrexham. Jim Mitchell said that recent statements from ourselves showed that we shared these concerns. Frank Beattie, chairing the meeting, reminded those present that the EFL had the power to block any takeover.
Billy said that all the current discussions needed to be ‘brought together’ and a conclusion sought. He said use of transfer funds was still to be fully decided and required the process to be concluded before firm decisions could be made – including the option to use them to reduce debt. He reminded the meeting that the current loan was secured by personal guarantees backed up by a debenture on the ground. He paid tribute to EWM and Philip Day for securing the club’s finances and also wanted to ensure the major shareholders with the controlling stake got a fair deal in any settlement reached.
Kyle Sproat showed a presentation of CUOSC’s revised approach to fan engagement which took effect from September 16, the date of this meeting. Questions that had previously come via the CUSG from messageboard members would now be handled directly via our main email address of firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions would aim to be answered within a fortnight, but priority would always be given to members. Anonymous sources would not be acceptable. CUOSC would not answer questions that were unconstructive or disrespectful, or of a personal nature aimed at individuals on the board rather than CUOSC’s work as a whole. Answers would also be shared in weekly briefings and on the CUOSC website. Members meeting would be organised throughout the year. The next online meeting would be on February 17 with a face to face meeting planned for Brunton Park in December.
Simon Clarkson suggested some of the operational aspects of the club’s work could be handled by him as SLO with the support of his team. It was agreed that a change of emphasis had been discussed by the CUOSC board. The 1921 board rep would continue to play an important role in bringing issues to the boardroom. CUOSC would play an important part in the strategic direction of the club via the Holdings board rep.
A major questionnaire was about to be launched by CUOSC, to be sent to members first and then to the wider fanbase. Mark Middling explained that this was going to be split into eight parts. He paid tribute to Alastair, Kyle, Nigel and Jim who had helped him put it together. This would help to inform CUOSC as to the future direction of the club and feed into our planned ‘manifesto’ for CUFC.