THE VIEW FROM THE BOARDROOM – Paul Armitage’s notes (07/01/23)

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As we enter the new year we will be eagerly awaiting PL funds being distributed, BT streaming being made available, hopefully for the two regional leagues as well as the main league and progress by the government on the Fan-led Review of Football.

Chapters 7 and 8 of the Review refer to supporters  specifically and the creation of a ‘Shadow Board’ and a ‘Golden Share’. The Supporter set-up, however constituted, may need to be ratified by the Financial Conduct Authority as some kind of Community Benefit Society.

The suggestion is that a shadow version of a club’s Board can be consulted and kept updated on off-field, confidential financial matters (specifically not on team matters) and that the Golden Share will confer rights on, and refer to, heritage decisions such as stadium relocations, first team colours and the club name, for example. Clearly this is to prevent the repeat of past failures. (Where was this idea when we needed them back in the 70s?)

At the moment our own Supporters Development Fund is potentially the sort of collective supporters’ body that could be converted into, or act as, a Shadow Board, if that is the way an Independent Regulator decides to go. We shall have to wait and see, but if the government finds the time and inclination to legislate for an Independent Regulator, then all clubs and their loyal supporters will need to find solutions.

Hopefully this review will also mean more funds flowing down the pyramid to non-league clubs to sustain viability. The belief is that this will also expose reckless owners who go splashing vast unearned money on players in the pursuit of promotion and short-term glory. Certainly regular FCA reporting would help to identify irregular funding promptly.

Gareth is planning to come to the UK in February and will want to see how best to proceed on this matter and the Board is open to supporter proposals and ideas as to how to find a solution that satisfies supporters and the Board. It is best to be prepared for any changes that may come from any new Independent Regulator than to rush at the last minute into changes.

Off the field our athletics partner, Bradford and Airedale Athletics Club (BAAC) are currently helping us to find grants and funding to re-lay the running track and improve field athletics facilities at Horsfall. This should help to attract several local athletics clubs to consider using Horsfall much more often. This is a big piece of work, if and when it happens. We are already planning big events to help with funding this plan and will keep you updated.

Horsfall’s reputation as a multi-sport venue would be further enhanced by similar investments we may uncover and we will be fast becoming South Bradford’s main sporting hub. Our small, Horsfall team are getting good advice from key influencers and tapping into ideas from the City of Culture planning. All this will eventually help to fill the coffers and give us more for first team investment.

Hopefully we can uncover local businesses and individuals keen to join us on this exciting journey. These projects need local investment from those who are wanting to improve opportunities for the community and facilities which invest in the future of the area and ultimately support the club in its survival and progress. Let us know if you find any investors who want to come and invest in the future with us.

Back on the field you will have seen our first Academy student graduate to the first team pool, so congratulations to Liam Hall on a well-deserved transition. I’m sure he won’t be the last and our best wishes go to him for his hard work and dedication.

We have had some great keepers over the years, so it’s good to see the continuing trend. Harry Hough, Bert Gebbie and John Hardie were among my early memories; no doubt our youngsters today will be remembering both George S-K and Liam in years to come.

Our second graduate has emerged too. Well done Myles La Bastide, we look forward to seeing you play soon.

Paul Armitage