Chairman's Comments for January
Dear members and supporters,
I am drawn to our Mission Statement, as you can view in our new brochure, in making my comments on what has been another busy month for TUST. We only wish to work in a positive and purposeful manner, obviously preferably with our club leadership, towards these objectives. Having built upon the already strong backing for this, that we have received from you all, especially at the last AGM, by also increasing our local corporate membership support in the last year.
GOOD GOVERNANCE AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT:
The year started busily for the TUST volunteer team with the launch of this year's brochure on New Year's Day before the local derby versus Yeovil at Plainmoor. Unfortunately, this served as an example of how we would all be more effective in supporting our club if were allowed to re-establish direct engagement through regular meetings with our club's CEO, who is clearly important in making the main decisions. It is widely believed that good governance of a football club should include the regular meetings with supporters and main supporters' organisations, as well as facilitating community engagement and influence, in both directions.
THE NEW YEAR'S DAY BROCHURE – FYI,THE STORY:
As soon as we arrived early at 1:30pm., and positioned ourselves outside near, but away, from the turnstile entrances, we were all promptly approached and requested by our club's chief steward to move away as we were not allowed to stand on the pavements or public highways directly surrounding the ground. A licensing act had been quoted to him and the club CEO had authorised this. Furthermore, surprisingly, the local police arrived, they said on request from the club. Both they and the steward seemed unsure of any illegality in what we were doing. Although we had checked earlier in the year with our council licensing authority that there were no restrictions or acts on the highways around Plainmoor preventing us doing this, as we have done before!
We politely complied, moving away to use the streets adjoining, meaning our distribution was less inclusive of all members/supporters. However, we did manage to successfully distribute just under 1,000 brochures on the day and increase our membership and hopefully public awareness of what we do.
The council, police and Devon Safety Advisory Group for Plainmoor have since all advised us that we were initially being lawful and that the club had no jurisdiction over the highways surrounding the ground or authority to move us away!
We will be organising distribution at another home, and an away, match in the near future for those who missed receiving one. There's also a soft copy available on our website. As importantly, we are distributing in the local community as an ongoing initiative, in highlighting the value of Torquay United F.C. as an asset to it.
To conclude, if you have not seen it, our brochure is again themed 'Uniting Torbay' in encouraging the wider TUFC community to appreciate the value of our lovely football club as an asset , as part of our heritage. We, our partners the Torquay United Community Sports Trust and our local business members, who are keen to support our club remaining successful within the local community, are all featured in our brochure.
In addition, we at TUST are also currently planning to support further TUCST outreach initiatives in advertising our club and gaining support for it, as is part of our remit.
Can I finish this part by saying that it was lovely to have the new club life president Robin Stubbs as our guest speaker at the Senior Gulls last week. His stories were mesmerising. He's one of the men who introduced me to a buzzing Plainmoor on Match of the Day, with those two late goals, many years ago! It gave me great pleasure to invite him along. Exeter City Senior Reds were also represented and themselves paid homage to the great Torquay United legend. Thank you to Jamie Mc.Innes and Hannah from the TUCST for organising this so excellently. Over 55s please come and join us at the next one on Tuesday, February 25th, 2-4pm. At Boots and Laces, it's fun.
GOOD GOVERNANCE AND FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY:
The club's financial situation has recently become of increasing concern to many supporters, with discussions re the TUFC Balance sheet return of 30 June 2019 which shows as of then an increase in the club's debts to just under £2,300,000. Furthermore, a headline article appeared in the local press today reporting on this.
We should commend the owner and his directors for the development of the club's professional infrastructure since their tenure and for their aim of returning TUFC to the English football league. However, there is a growing view , underlined by the stated shorter term commitment that has been referred to within the above reports, that it would be re-assuring for supporters to receive not only more clarity and detail re the strategic plan, but also the financial business plans relating to each possible eventual scenario. More open engagement with the supporter community and TUST would facilitate an opportunity for this. We can only guess at this point which situation they might eventually be faced with as custodians of our club, whether including a viable new stadium project or not. We are not against any initiative which can prove itself to be of long term benefit to the TUFC community and can ensure, as far as possible, its long term sustainability for future generations to enjoy.
In the meantime, hopefully GJ and his team can turn our season back upwards in the table soon. There is now still a glimpse left of the play-offs, but if we do not begin to significantly improve our results soon during this month, it is clearly likely to fade. We also need to avoid nearing the relegation zone! We wish all well, also all of our supporters who as usual continue to be brilliant. Especially our many exiles and those who made the very long trip to Barrow.
Michel Thomas COYY