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notes from joint meeting 16/11/2017
Posted by: stevee72
Date: 17/11/2017 12:41
OPEN MEETING – AIRDRIE CONSORTIUM, AIRDRIE SUPPORTERS TRUST & DIAMONDS FOR CHANGE
EXCELSIOR STADIUM – 16/11/17

Head table – Stuart Shields, Martin Ferguson, Bobby Watson representing Airdrie Consortium. Willie Marshall from AST and Gordon Thomson or DFC

Meeting started with Willie Marshall discussing the current situation and what facts are known.

Trust were contacted on Fri 10th Nov, and asked if they could attend a meeting which was arranged for Monday 13th regarding a potential buyer for Tom Wotherspoons shares. The meeting was attended by Willie Marshall, Bob Reid and Daniel Lambie from the Trust, Jim Ballantyne and David Irvine acting as representative for Seref Zengin. They informed the Trust that Mr Zengin had agreed a price for Tom Wotherspoons shares and they were carrying out the due diligence process. Mr Irvine set out Mr Zengins plans for the club saying that the youth set up played a big part in the plans, any money put into the club wouldn’t be loans and would be invested as capital. Mr Irvine also stated that Mr Zengin was in it for the long run and that the price he had paid was the value that he saw the club being worth in ten years time. It was explained that the reason for any scepticism on the Trusts part was due to failed takeovers in the past. Mr Irvine explained that as soon as due diligence was completed that the transfer of shares would be completed. After this meeting the Trust met with Consortium members and came to the conclusion that as the plans of Mr Zengins takeover appeared to mean more of the same as had gone in the past, that the correct way forward for the club was with the proposed consortium. The following day the Trust issued a joint statement stating that they cannot and will not back the proposed transfer of shares in Airdrieonians from M&H to Mr Zengin. It was then noted that Mr Zengins company ZL Group are sponsors at Hamilton Academicals Football Club.

It was then discussed what facts remain unknown. The price being payed for the shares is unknown as was the price originally payed by Tom Wotherspoon. Individual shareholders have requested this without any response.
The set up of the board was discussed and it was stated that Jim Ballantyne would take part in a hand over period to Mr Zengin who would become Chairman with Ann Marie Ballantyne remaining in her current role.

Stuart Shields then went on to discuss the Consortiums business plans. He stated that given that the club started the season in a position where they were asking the Trust for £10,000 or they faced ‘closing the doors’ to four weeks later being told by Mr Colin McGowan (broker for Tom Wotherspoon) that his 68% shareholding was for sale at £350,000 which would mean that the club was valued at just over £500,000 was unrealistic and that the consortium would never commit to such valuation. He then explained that the new set up would involve a boardroom made up of ten equal partners. Himself, Mr Bobby Watson with Mr Martin Ferguson acting in an advisory role, the stadium owners, the Supporters Trust and six remaining local businessmen with connections to Airdrie who would name themselves when they felt the time was right. It was explained that all parties would put up an equal amount of cash which could be made available immediately as and when required. It was then stated that the days of having one party making the decisions at boardroom level would be a thing of the past under the Consortiums control. He explained that for the business model to be self-sustainable would only be plausible with part time football, and that this would be run on a professional model with a proper youth set up utilising connections of Martin Ferguson and Bobby Watson. The Trust would continue to act as the community link in the club, carrying on exactly the type of work they have been doing so. He then stated that although the news of Mr Zengins takeover was a set back it did not change the Consortiums long term plans to take 100% control at Airdrieonians FC. He then said that the only way to gain 100% control was if the current owners are willing to talk to the consortium which so far has not happened. He was asked about rumours stating that the Consortium were waiting for the club to go bust before stepping in, he answered that this was an option and was perhaps the cleanest way of overseeing a takeover but that it was not the overall plan and that purchase of the club at a fair value was preferential.
The point was raised about gaining access to financial records and that any shareholder has the right to see these. It was the suggested that any shareholder can go to the companies registered office and ask to see their books and that refusal to comply would technically be illegal. It was also suggested all minor shareholders put in writing a request to see the records.

The question was asked to Stuart Shields if he would like to see a boycott of games by fans to perhaps help force through changes. He replied that he would not ask any fan to do so and that only the individual can make up their own minds on this. Gordon Thomson then stated that perhaps the DFC group and the Trust are the ones that need to come up with a plan on future fans actions in matters like boycotts, protests etc. Leaving the Consortium to deal solely with business plans etc. Willie Marshall agreed stating that all fans parties need to work together and convince any doubters that the Consortium is the correct long-term decision for the club.

It was highlighted that Colin McGowan had previously stated he was working hard at finding a buyer for Tom Wotherspoons shares, however at no point had he contacted any known Airdrie businessmen to ask if they had any interest in securing the shares. Stuart Shields says that although being known for some time to be involved in the Consortium at no point has anyone from the club asked to speak to him.

The question is raised on the working procedures of the board of the Consortium, Stuart Shields explains that there would essentially be a breakdown of three separate ‘board groups’ one dealing in Football matters, another being an operational board dealing in business matters and finally a Community board, but they would all be working in unison with each other.

Matter of the Trust selling merchandise was raised, after speculation that they had been informed by Jim Ballantyne to cease doing so. The e-mail containing this request was then read out to the audience. It was made clear that the Trust will continue to sell merchandise and fans were encouraged to continue buying it.

Bobby Watson and Martin Ferguson then made some statements on their own visions for the Consortium in the future. Bobby Watson saying when he was approached about his involvement he was happy to do so in the hope that they can collectively bring back a feel-good factor about following Airdrieonians. He says he has previous Boardroom experience from his time at Partick Thistle and enough experience of football in general where he can help achieve this. He also praises the other members of the Consortium saying they are the type of people to achieve success at the club. Martin Ferguson also says that the people to take the club forward are involved in the Consortium. In regard to football matters he says its all down to hard work and if anyone doesn’t put the effort in they wouldn’t be involved at the club.

Question asked about the Youth Academy and its funding in regard to Lottery funding. It is pointed out by a former Head of the Youth Academy that he felt they never received any funding from Lottery funds and that the teams were all self-funded through sponsorship and players parents. The question has previously been asked about where the Lottery money goes but the Trust has yet to receive an answer. It is recommended that any individuals concerned by this should contact the club direct for a response.

Question asked as to why the Consortium has not been in contact with ‘Holemasters’. Stuart Shields says that he has spoken with them, and unfortunately when he first tried to contact them, they were already in the meeting with Seref Zengin. However, he has spoken with them various times since and that they had very positive conversations, and that he feels there is a place for them at the club should the Consortium gain control. He also praised the involvement that they have had in the club and town, Willie Marshall also says that Holemasters have also been fantastic in regard to the Supporters Trust showing support to various projects in the past.

The discussion then moves onto how fans can influence matters going forward. Various parties in the audience stating that they feel the only way to have an effect is to cut of funding to the club, via boycotts etc. Gordon Thomson states that the main point of tonight’s meeting is to put the Consortiums vision across to the fan base, in the hope that this can generate support for the long-term goal to bring back a stronger more positive club for future generations. It is agreed that individuals have to make up their own minds on this.

The night is rounded off with the topic of fans taking the information received tonight and spreading it among the bigger fan base, tell people about the possible future the club could potentially have under the Consortium. Stuart Shields states the fans must find their own path forward on how to influence matters and he and the rest of the Consortium will concentrate on the business plan, but points out he and the rest of the Consortium are in it for the long run. He says that he hopes to run ‘fans surgeries’ where fans can come along and speak to representatives of the Consortium, the Trust and DFC members about any questions they may have on the future.

Meeting closes with a DFC member stating they will meet next week to discuss any organised plans to demonstrate, protest etc. Willie Marshall then reiterates that people should realise this may be a long process but collectively the three groups are all prepared for a long fight and are all working for the same goals.

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