VIEW FROM THE BOARDROOM – Paul Armitage’s Notes (07/04/23)

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Last week we heard from Martin Knight on the West Yorkshire Route One Show, in discussion with Lewis Sale. The underlying story doesn’t change – running the club is an expensive job and only Gareth’s funding keeps the club alive. As I have been saying in my programme notes, there is a lack of investors locally and we need to fund the football team through our various commercial exploits to try make investment more attractive.

That means sensible commercial budgeting for the first team, improved funding of the Academy and Juniors, greater use of the stadium facilities and increased crowd appeal. The latter comes through greater success on the field, though our gates don’t seem to fluctuate wildly whether we have been high or low in the league, so the need to generate more younger supporters works in the short and longer term.

Given our moaners and armchair critics struggle to understand the financial situation and how we have two excellent champions in Calum and Tom, who work hard to boost income and control costs, I want to encourage our keen supporters to attend or organise events held at Horsfall.

There seems to be some confusion about how the separation of the stadium’s business and the football club’s finances work, so here is a brief resumé.

The charitable model (Horsfall Trust) is suitable for organisations that will be asking for money, in the form of donations, grants, bequests etc.

A CIC set-up is intended for organisations that will have primarily social purposes but will earn a significant proportion of their income from trading.

CICs are more likely to be financed through loans than grants, though grants can be won.
CICs are liable for taxes and business rates which charities don’t have to pay.
CICs have the freedom to be entrepreneurial.

The stadium company (a CIC) is aiming to pay all the costs that relate to stadium operations and when it can do that it can donate any excess funds to cover the repayment of loans that have been used for capital improvements to the stadium and most of those loan liabilities belong to the football club.

The stadium runs its own budget, which Calum has brought into shape and the organised stadium events or matches on the pitch fund stadium income. Food and drink profits from events go to the stadium. Credits from bar sales for anchor user events or match days are recorded and will be released when the stadium makes money.

Watch out for some extra, new events and matches coming up soon, thanks to Calum. That means new income!

The Academy runs its own budget, driven by funding from the parents of Junior team members or by College funding on a ‘per student’ basis.

Clearly we have to recruit these students by making the footballing pathway attractive and ensuring it gives the best coaching standards to students.

Coaches cost money, so it is important for Tom to get the best coaches so we can earn the best income and it helps to have the links already created to lower levels of men’s football teams so we can introduce keen players early to the rigours of football at that level.

The Academy and Tom’s budget come under Martin’s line management as do Mark and Danny’s work, of course.. Calum reports into Martin for his football secretary duties, which means the communication links to our league, registering players, liaising with sister clubs and organising match days.

Calum’s extensive Sunday League history of organising leagues, teams and players gives him very important knowledge of footballing matters.

Calum also leads on issues like retail sales including kits and will soon be showcasing a new deal for kits throughout the age groups, so colours, sizes and costs, all of which can be ‘emotional’ issues are his domain. Calum is a natural negotiator! Just check out the advertising boards around the pitch – far more than ever before, and increasing sponsorship deals.

The football club costs – players, managers, physio costs, NI costs, agent costs, travel costs, player loan costs, tax and accountancy costs are offset by gate income and events organised by BPA, with help also from those supporters who help to increase the Development Fund monies.

The DF supports the management if player funding is needed or if supporter facilities can be improved. The DF operates entirely independently from the stadium or football club and makes its own decisions but liaises with the football club management.

The DF has many former directors, volunteers and benefactors of BPA and has provided very useful income over many years.

As for me, I am Calum’s line manager for stadium issues and act as a sounding board for him, suggest ideas and, as a fan, I listen to fan concerns and try facilitate communications. In recent months we have held a fan’s zoom meeting, Martin has done an hour on local radio and Gareth visited from the States recently.

I am a BPA rep on the stadium board, along with the well-respected and hard-working volunteer,Neil Fawcett and I am a trustee of the Horsfall Trust, which aims to provide such things as holiday camps for local, underprivileged children, with help from the Academy coaches.

As we expand the events business, Neil is seeking extra bar staff and we are also keen to have a part-time stadium supervisor for evening work, perhaps four or five nights for four or five hours each night to ensure stadium security is maintained and for the safe use of our facilities. Calum is the person to contact if you are keen to help out.

Thanks to our two Avenue champions (Calum and Tom) we believe we are setting up some very good future plans for the club and the stadium. It helps to organise the club and stadium in this separate way, so we can help drive stadium and football improvements.

No directors receive any salaries for their work in these endeavours, and as you now know, the current costs per annum can amount to £350k, relentlessly, so the ‘plan’ is to increase club and stadium income, control costs and make Avenue and Horsfall future-proofed for survivability.

Keep watching our Facebook site for more new news.

No vanity projects, just a plan for survival and a desire to continue to improve what we do and how we do it.

You can help too. Volunteer your time, if you can, or sponsorship money, if you can, or just turn up for football. Academy games are free entry, season tickets are great value, the chips are legendary and bar prices are competitive!