The Argyle Fans’ Trust Board is concerned that discussions over the formation of a potential “Green Army Supervisory Board”, as announced by James Brent at the January Guildhall meeting, are being rushed through by the club without due consultation with the Argyle supporter groups, other relevant bodies, and participation by fans lacking Internet access.
The Trust has provided a strong scrutiny role to the club, challenging the administrator throughout last year’s crisis. While we plan to continue to act as a “critical friend”, we would very much like to see any additional scrutiny function be based on solid foundations rather than formed in haste. To that end, while the club’s appointment of Prof David Wheeler, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth and Dean of its Business School, as an independent advisor should help provide valuable expertise for the process, we believe it is vital that he is given time to carry out appropriate consultations.
To date, one discussion meeting has been held, chaired by Prof Wheeler, but two subsequent meetings have been cancelled by the club. The cancellations were reportedly made to allow Prof Wheeler time to consult with the various Argyle fan groups, and to solicit a better representation in the discussions by female fans and younger fans, and those without Internet access. The Trust recently wrote to Prof Wheeler, we received a reply this week, but have yet to meet with him. However, a new GAS Board meeting is now being arranged for this Saturday, before Prof Wheeler, who has been away for two weeks, has held consultations, and before any notes from the first meeting have been made available.
The club is also asking today for specific proposals for the GAS Board terms of reference and composition to be emailed in, with just three days’ notice before the meeting. The Trust Board feels this request is both rushed and premature, nor does it foster inclusiveness, especially to “offline” fans. The Trust Board thus urges the club to allow Prof Wheeler time to consult with appropriate groups including the various Argyle supporter groups and bodies such as Supporters Direct, who have proposed a licensing model that has been discussed in Parliament with participation from local MP Alison Seabeck. We also feel that information on the significant differences in how German football supervisory boards are run would also be very useful to the discussion, as would be information on the club’s own existing corporate governance regime which approved last week’s sale of the car park area to raise a reported £425,000.
Once those consultations are complete and reported upon, and any other relevant information made available, a more well-informed discussion can take place that is inclusive of all fans. The immediate priority now is the relegation fight; the discussion about the need for and organisation of a club supervisory board can be continued into the close season to allow the resulting proposal the best chance of success.
In the meantime, the Trust will continue to follow its key objectives, which are about being a democratic and representative voice of the fans (be they season ticket holders, exiles, young or old), about supporter and community influence in running the club, and about encouraging the club to act transparently and with financial responsibility. The Trust Board believes the 20% share offer by James Brent, which we very much welcome, will help us to meet those goals, and we look forward to meeting with Mr Brent to further discuss details of the offer.
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2013 Annual General Meeting