As the season kicks off today, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share an update regarding ongoing discussions between the Club and the supporters.
Since the end of last season, the club has held regular meetings with Jordan McManus, Richard Macey and Richie Bethell, the Supporters Club representatives, the latest of these on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Will O’Donnell of, who acts as Secretary of the supporter’s club, has been unable to share the full minutes at this time, although these will be shared in full early next week.
The club was represented by Steve Shore, Phil Crowe, Robbie Simpson and Paul Bailey and the discussion focused on the Chairman’s Report, the content of which is included below.
It was agreed by the representatives of The Supporters Club that good progress was being made and much of the content of the report would be helpful in providing supporters with information with which they were not aware, hence the sharing of this today.
Certainly, from Robbie and the player’s perspective, it is important that all supporters get behind them as they aim to start the season on a high.
Up The Clarets
Chelmsford City Football Club
Supporters Club Meeting – 4th August 2022
- The club is in a strong position to start the new season with a strengthening of the first team squad and some positive pre-season results to build upon.
- The finances are in a good position with the current owners continuing to inject the money required to meet the costs of running the club. The main outstanding creditor is Chelmsford City Council, whose debt it is hoped to be clear in the next couple of weeks. once the season starts.
- Refurbishments are ongoing with the new carpet installed this week, new dugouts on order and a new tunnel being designed. The streaming camera is scheduled to be fixed by 19th August.
- There is currently no intention to sell the club by the current owners nor have they received any formal offers for its purchase.
- It is understood that Clarets4Change is organising a protest on Saturday. A list of action points was raised by Clarets4Change at the end of last season all of which are being actioned, Clarets4Change has made no attempts to engage with the club and seems to want to continue to protest through the media. The club does not believe this is an appropriate approach and will be approaching Clarets4change to arrange a meeting to discuss their current objections.
The vision as set out three years ago, needs to be reviewed and refreshed.
A working group will be established to examine the vision and ensure it remains fit for purpose given the ever-changing landscape.
Representatives of all relevant parties will be asked to provide participants in the working group.
- Robbie and the team have done an excellent job in retaining, and attracting new, players to Chelmsford City and we look forward to an exciting season.
- The league looks tough again this year with a number of clubs putting significant resources to play in attempts to secure promotion.
- The club has agreed a collaboration with Hullbridge Sports FC to complete the pathway from Academy to first team such that the following ladder now exists:
- Step 2: Chelmsford City Football Club
- Step 4: Hullbridge Sports FC
- Step 7: Chelmsford City Football Club Reserves
Chelmsford City Football Club Academy
- It is expected that some players will sign dual registrations for the coming season with Chelmsford City & Hullbridge Sports. In addition, Reserve games will be played at Hullbridge Sports Ground.
- Academy recruitment has gone well, and we expect a full complement to start at Moulsham in September; Academy players will be attending all home games to help them develop their understand of how the team, and their position, play.
- Mickey Spillane, Head of the Academy, has been interviewing to replace Elliott Ward and has a proposal he will be presenting to myself over the next few days.
- A meeting is scheduled for 5th August with representatives of the Women’s & Girls teams to discuss closer collaboration and support. With the success of the Lionesses and the growth in girls’ football, it is key that the club takes this opportunity to develop in this area with a key objective to be the establishment of a Girls Academy at Moulsham for the start of the 2023/24 Academic year.
- The club is pleased to have Ascend Broking as its new main sponsor which not only brings with it financial benefit but also a working partnership to support the clubs growth.
- In addition, of the clubs’ main sponsors, Laser Electrical have continued their sponsorship along with Gards and Clive Emson. Phil Crowe will be following up with EMG as to their continued involvement.
- Accounts for the year to 30th June 2022 will be prepared over the next few weeks and tabled as appropriate along with the budgets for the coming season and subsequently an AGM organised for the wider shareholder group.
- The free shares that were offered follow the takeover were issued in March however the accountants have yet to distribute the share certificates. They will be delivered over the next few weeks and the club is open to other parties taking an interest in the club. More details to be provided on the website in due course.
Operations & Infrastructure
- In order for Chelmsford City Football Club to progress it needs to enhance its facilities and potentially find a new stadium:
- Capacity is limited at Melbourne Park and to meet the ground-grading requirements of the National League it would need to increase capacity to 4,000 and have the plans in place to increase this to 5,000. This seems impractical in its current location and format.
- National League clubs are required to play midweek games on Tuesday evenings; something which is not currently possible at Melbourne Park.
- As costs rise many clubs in the National League South and below have reverted to synthetic pitches to generate the significant income streams these bring (estimated £150k-£200k per annum). This influx of monies would significantly help the club in its drive for sustainability.
- Architects have been engaged to look at the options for the club and these will be shared in due course
This movement seems to have gained traction in recent weeks with its petition for the removal of myself and John Holmes from the club and the protest planned for Saturday.
Having reviewed the six points raised at the end of last season, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand what the issue is. In summary, the points were, and the clubs’ actions taken as a result are:
- Supporter representation on the board
This meeting today includes 2/3 representatives of The Supporters Club.
- Expand the board
This is proving more difficult than expected, with a number of those approached not wishing to take on the challenges being created by Clarets4Change. Progress is being made and new Directors are planned. In the meantime, by creating this operating Board the club has effectively ensured an appropriate voice of the supporters whilst the formalities of new Board Directors are progressed.
- Investment/improvement of facilities
A new carpet has been laid, outside bar set-up, toilets repaired, and a general clean-up undertook. More decorating is planned and brightening up to make the clubhouse more welcoming.
Outside, new dugouts have been ordered, a new tunnel is being designed and the camera is scheduled to be fixed by 19th August. These were all subject to a grant application back in March which was only confirmed last month and hence the delay in actioning these items.
- Communication with Supporters Club
Regular meetings are now in place with The Supporters Club and Phil Crowe did a Q&A session with The Supporters Club. If more is required, then the club is happy to support the appropriate forums to improve communication.
With respect to a replacement for Andrew Haynes. The club is relatively unique in employing full-time media and communications team with other club’s being more reliant on volunteers. Interviews have been held to secure a replacement for Andrew and the position is being considered.
- Commercial activity to increase funding and match day experience
Ascend is already on board as a new sponsor and several others have extended their support. The team is working to develop its commercial activity supported by its new sponsors and will continue to report as these come on Board.
Emma Rushen continues to work with the club introducing new sponsors and two individuals have approached the club to offer their services in this area; these are being followed up by Phil Crowe.
- Convert the 10-year vision
We are now three years into the Vision which has been significantly impacted by Covid19. As set out above, a working party is to be formed to review this and take it forward.
A meeting will be sought with representatives of Clarets4Change to discuss progress to date, how they believe the current incumbents are damaging the club and what further action they are seeking that ensures the club’s future and supports its growth.
Letter of no confidence
As per the list outlined above, as the actions requested are being taken forward it is difficult to know what else supporters wish the club to do that it is not already doing. Hopefully, The Supporters Club representatives can provide more insight to this at the meeting
4th August 2022