The following address was read to James Brent and other Club representatives at the start of the Trust Board meeting held earlier this week.
Thank you for finding the time to meet with us this evening. Firstly, we wanted to register our members’ appreciation to the board for giving Carl Fletcher the tools to ensure league football in our city next season. Please convey our thanks to Carl, his management team, the squad (including our successful youth team), and of course the staff, without whose sacrifices we would be in a much worse position.
The Trust is a young organisation. It was forged in a war and now in peace is focused on building a better Argyle. The board members here today have been elected to represent 1,500 members and an organisation set up with a legal and regulated mandate to increase and improve community involvement with the club.
We have on our board people who run an SME (which, in essence, is what Argyle is), people who work in education, industry, with government and the media, and who work across the public, private and voluntary sectors. And, just as importantly, we are all fans, whether by blood or through good geographical fortune.
In 16 months of existence, we have fought for the needs of supporters to be put first – whether that was trying to stop the previous regime from running the club into the ground, challenging potential investors when we saw little evidence that they had the club’s best interests at heart, and taking action when threatened with liquidation by the administrator.
James, we have faith that you and your board will do the right things, but faith is not enough. You have ensured the survival of the club. You have restored positivity to Home Park. And you have given us cause to anticipate progression both on and off the pitch next year and beyond. But we have had faith before and seen it damaged, impacting on the livelihoods of some and the lives of many more.
So to some extent you carry with you the baggage of those who have gone before you. That means not only will the club be held to account for the decisions it takes. It means that we believe there is an overwhelming case for our community to be more involved in the club and the way it is run. We are delighted to see signs that the club shares many of those goals.
While we believe that evidence across the country suggests that supporters trusts are the best way to achieve those goals, we believe the ‘GAS Board’ is an innovative concept and it is one in which the Trust wants to play a constructive role, especially given our experience in setting up an organisation with rules, regulated powers and responsibilities, membership, a secretariat and financial/fundraising and election management. We believe the Trust’s role will be particularly important in the time it will take for the GAS Board to find its feet and decide how it will be run.
In closing, the proposal that the club has made around a shareholding to be offered to the Trust is potentially historic. It is one that we know many fans are keen to embrace. We want this meeting to be the first in a series that will explore the issues – financial, legal and social – around a shareholding, and it is an offer upon which Trust members should decide via a full consultation over the early part of the summer.
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