THE VIEW FROM THE BOARDROOM – Paul Armitage’s notes (26/12/22)

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We’re all over the disappointment of the World Cup now and can get back to real football again! Paying millions for a four year competition is a world away from non-league in local communities. No doubt the cost of one ‘pop up’ stadium in Qatar would cover all NL budgets for a season or two.

Which gets me back to the UK Fan-led Review.

One of its early themes is the reckless pursuit of wealth by clubs and the enormous financial losses most football clubs regularly incur.

Our own plans require us to establish the solid base of a sports-led stadium developing community-led and well-supported growth for young people of all abilities, so that they can find personal and educational development and link that to activities at Horsfall.

This tends to offer value for parents and their children at affordable levels and meaningful activity to harness youthful energy. Combining sport and non-academic education allows for personal growth and achievement and whether it is linked to soccer at Avenue, rugby at West Bowling or athletics with Bradford and Airedale, or even all three, we are moving towards organising age group progress and improving facilities for all those users.

It takes time and money to do this and each of our anchor users are moving along similar lines and uncovering funding and volunteers to create the vision.

We have relied on substantial grants and some loans, along with very generous contributions from our own benefactor to get us this far and we are all well aware that financial viability is essential.

Bradford has a good history of philanthropic benefactors over decades. My own favourite is Titus Salt as I was born in that neck of the woods, but there were many others and it would be good to see those who have made good in the city returning benefits for such good causes and getting involved in the quest for a viable sports stadium that aims to help youngsters.

It is proving to be only a little easier to find grants than to find patronage from entrepreneurs these days, but we are all keen to find the new patrons.

Running a football club is almost by definition a pathway to insolvency if we don’t manage the finances well and finding the next generation of players to eventually win a World Cup starts at the grassroots, which is where our investment plans start.

Here at Avenue we older supporters know only too well that the sudden loss of a benefactor can create havoc and Gareth knows that too. All benefactors must share the concerns of how their legacy is perceived, so finding the numbers of supporters or the individuals needed is a perpetual quest. Hopefully it will be more successful than seeking the Holy Grail!

See you again in what we all hope will be the Happy New Year and more NLN points.

THE VIEW FROM THE BOARDROOM – Paul Armitage’s Notes (17/12/22)

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We have some big games this month, mainly for getting points on the board but also for making money. Each month we are getting a bit closer to the stadium company breaking even, which would be a major milestone and would allow us to consider first team improvements if and when any are required.

As the World Cup draws to a close we can be grateful we have no VAR technology spoiling our games. I’d be fine with goal-line technology but for the rest we are happily too far away to qualify
for all that. I’d rather talk about the refs and liners than wait for ever for marginal offside decisions.

Like the players on the pitch the officials are trying to do their best (with at least eleven blokes having a pop at them). They need all the support we can give them!

For us it’s a rare pleasure to be moving up the table and wondering if we might make the playoffs again and it shows the value of sticking with the management team. Their weeks of hard work and vision is starting to bear fruit and confounding the handful of critics we have.

The NL have given us a long, detailed diatribe on their deal with BT on streaming games. They seem destined to create a similar hierarchy of wealth that exists with the PL and EFL, where the top division gets the bulk of the financial benefits and the rest feed off scraps. No ‘levelling up’ troubling them and no democratic voting system across the three divisions either!

The NL Board have recently been taken to task on their ‘broken promises’ to distribute lottery cash based partly on attendances, which never happened. We benefitted from that decision to share the money more broadly and we are keen to see greater equality of any cash-sharing dividends.

Clubs with bigger gates already get bigger income but the NL should look after all its clubs, not the few richer ones. However it makes no sense having governance rules or making statements and not applying them.

That goes for the planned streaming income share too, but the desire to give the premier division more is likely to prevail.

The NL Board risk exacerbating the accusation that vested interest is at play in their considerations. We were fined £6k when we cancelled matches just before the league closedown and must have been one of the few businesses in the country to have been fined for preventing the spread of Covid.

The NL fined other clubs too, to the tune of about £100k, rigidly using their rules when others were applying common sense. It might help the NL Board if they added some independent directors with commercial backgrounds to help them reach decisions and avoid the ‘vested interest’ charge.