Last night’s AGM passed off smoothly, as most people expected.
Before I go on, I just want to say “Hi” to hundreds of new readers directed here from Saintsweb, who appear to think my last blog was an example of “the natives getting restless”. When I spoke last night it was along the same lines that I’d written in that blog, and I introduced the motion I was proposing by saying that “nothing here is intended to be a criticism of the Board or the bid team personally”. There are a couple of procedural points to tighten up, but we all knew that a long time ago, and the Chairman said as much in his annual report.
We own our own club; maybe Saints fans should concentrate on their own opaque ownership situation. Who controls their club these days? Katharina Liebherr doesn’t take any interest in football, which is a shame for her as (let’s be magnanimous) Saints are playing some decent stuff in patches at present. Mauricio Pochettino is settling in. His English now makes far more sense than Lawrie Mac’s ever did.
But back to last night. Having gone through the formal stuff about accounts and auditors (big thanks to Taylor Cocks who are doing that job gratis) we then had the three motions to consider. The Board recommended the first one, and it was passed with only a few of us voting against. Ashley Brown assured us that the point of this clause
“33 No person shall be appointed a Director unless he or she has the relevant experience or qualifications to fit him or her as a director of a public company nor if he or she is disqualified from being a member of the Society Board under Rule .”
is covered by the Board’s intention that training would be given to anyone considered for the Club board who might be in danger of falling short of that. As we had to approve or reject the motion without amendment, nobody could move that the point about training be incorporated into the wording. The wording about “public company” still seems a bit amiss given that I don’t think such a legal entity exists in England.
To be fair to the Board, they are at least putting in a tougher rule than the League’s own Owners’ and Directors’ Test is. The O&DT isn’t really a test at all, since you self-certify that you’re an honest bloke, and after that you can run a club as you see fit. The continued laxity of the League and the other authorities is a key reason why I proposed the third motion later on. I’d like to go a long way past having our own strong rules, and to see Parliament drive statutory reform and regulation of football in the future.
The second motion
“PST Board should be tasked to come up with a new “fit for purpose” Election Policy so that it is in place before the 2014 Elections after consultation with the Membership.”
was proposed by Paul Williams, who explained the shortcomings of the present election arrangements and the desirability of letting candidates do more to introduce themselves to voters and to permit nomination by electronic format in future. That was passed unanimously, and so the Board have the mandate to reform that policy.
I then proposed the third motion
“The Members would like to thank Board members past and present for the successful purchase of the Club on behalf of the fans.
However, we recognise that the Rules and Election Rules are no longer fit for a Trust with a substantial stake in the ownership of the club. We therefore mandate the Board to set up a sub-committee to amend both, to reflect a co-operative business owner with a large number of stakeholders.
This should include ways of making the Trust a democratic, consultative body for the stakeholders. The sub-committee shall report back to the membership with the proposals at an EGM of the Trust to be held no later than 31 March 2014.”
and that one was passed too. Thankyou to all who voted for it!
There were only a couple of points that I came away thinking that we need to keep an eye on. One is the articles of association which do indeed give any shareholder the right to basically buy more shares in the football club – potentially diluting the PST majority (PST currently has 59% of the club). The club chairman Iain McInnes assured us that none of the Presidents would consider doing such a thing – and I believe him without reservation. It’s something to bear in mind though should there be any transfer of shares to people who aren’t currently Presidents.
The other thing was the planning application for the Tesco development. It should be submitted in the next couple of weeks and while it doesn’t have an immediate effect on the football club, it is in our interest that it progresses. It is likely to attract some opposition and controversy, but it conforms with the council’s development policy and should succeed in the end. There are likely to be concerns about the traffic a large store would create, or at any rate how it is managed given the current road layout. We’ll have to look at the detail of what is submitted.
Apart from that, the news was all good. We are operating with wages at 27% of turnover, have sold over 10,000 season tickets, and are beating our budget average attendance of 14,200. The other figures all demonstrate we are ahead of budget at this point.
The real controversy of the evening arose out of the Fratton End clock, its current whereabouts, and where it should go when it returns. I must admit I rather tuned out of the discussion a bit at that point.
Another point concerned having cash turnstiles. If it could be done easily it would be desirable to go back to the old method of handing over cash at the turnstile and going in. But as our turnstiles and the system that controls them make no provision for it, it isn’t going to happen in that way. Supporters can always buy a ticket from the kiosk on the day, of course.
There was also some discussion of the club’s participation in the government work experience scheme. I realise the politics of this are contentious, but as Mark Catlin said the real test in our case is the reaction of the people involved in it. The reaction has been positive, and on that basis I can see no argument for pulling out of it.
Those were the main points of the meeting as I remember them. All the reports presented to it were positive, everyone was in very good spirits. The fire alarm going off at the end of the evening and clearing the bar was a typical touch of Pompey comedy too!