An update from the board of directors
Attending the Football League Conference last week capped off a very eventful year and brought home all the ups and downs that we have experienced over the past 12 months.
Whilst away it allows you to reflect on what’s been achieved, could we have improved and how can we improve over the next 12 months.
All in all we think the 12 months have been a success BUT we now need to push on and make each year better both on the Pitch as well as commercially.
For the majority (and quite rightly) the be all and end all is what happens for the 90 minutes on a Saturday or Tuesday night as the Gaffer and the lads play their way out of this league and beyond. But at the same time there is the other 5/6 days a week that the work really happens to make BFC a financial success, after all it is a business and it needs to be profitable.
We really do think that between the Chairman and the Gaffer they have carefully planned and targeted key players to not only improve on the squad from last year, but to also keep within an affordable budget. Too many people seem to think we are blowing monies on players when in reality we have cut the wages from previous years and improved the quality of the squad. We still have one or two individuals to meet but over all we are very excited about next season.
Key successes for 2013/2014 Season
1. keeping professional football at the JD Stadium.
It was critical that we made sure BFC did not leave the Football League. Difficult decisions had to be made and change in management and players were part of the learning curve. We are confident we have the right team to move on and as stated before, we cannot wait for the season to start.
2. Understanding the financial status of the Club
We all know the situation the Club faced and that’s all behind us now. But it has taken a full 12 months to bottom the financial understanding and make sure the right level of investment has been made available. The figures that were discussed on day one have only just touched the bare minimum of requirement and it will take much more to make sure that we can achieve the goal of a financially viable business. But monies has been invested and provisions for future investment is in hand to make sure we can carry out the 5 year plan to achieve championship football at the JD Stadium plus make sure we can sustain a business model that can be stand alone.
3. Planning a stable financial footing.
After speaking to many Club owners and decision makers it has become more and more clear that we have a great advantage over so many Clubs as we have the freedom and flexibility of using the assets to move forward. So many of our competitors have huge debts or they only rent the stadium. With this in mind it’s important that the fans remember that a business must grow and use its asset base in a structure that allows both growth and the realization of assets to invest within a structured manner.
The Clubs assets are used circa 26 times a year and cannot sustain the expenses of running a football club – fact.
The club will lose monies year after year unless changes are made – fact.
Clubs MUST be made to operate profitably without the need of the dependency on a Chairman’s investment to survive the forever changing world and rules imposed by the Governing bodies – fact.
We have spent the last 12 months working on new ideas and listening to other professional people that can bring something different to BFC that will make us not only unique but Market leaders as well. Therefore to date we have:
a) Secured a Concert License: we all know this has been secured for some period, but it has been much harder to move forward with any planning due to the fact the Pitch has had to be totally replaced. We had hoped to put on our first event this July, but due to the uncertainty of the weather and the growing time we have shelved all events for this summer. The pitch had to come first. HOWEVER, we have secured a team of professional event managers that are now planning and securing a festival of music to be hosted at the JD Stadium under a new brand that will be simply known as “The Gigg”. Monies have been needed to act as deposits to secure the acts that will make this both an enjoyable event as well as a financially successful one. The target date is the May Bank Holiday 2015. In the mean time we are trying to host Scott Quigg in one of his Title Fights and will keep everyone updated if that’s ever a possibility.
b) Training Centre: We have just been approved to work with a National accredited training organization to work with local people within our community to try and offer training and improve job opportunities. This is a new concept and if the final negotiations go to plan then BFC will be the first Club to offer this model and not only help create better opportunities, but to use the Clubs facilities during the day and evenings on non match days and increase the revenues. A winner for all concerned and will hopefully be launched during this summer.
c) Events: due to the current contractual obligations it has not been financially beneficial to host any events at the Club as the Club does not benefit financially. However, after a lengthy discussion with our supply partner there is now the good chance that these obligations can be relaxed and we can take control of our hospitality rooms and start to offer them again for events such as weddings, birthdays, works do’s etc. Once again, making the Club a part of the Community.
d) Development: why is it that people are blinkered enough to think that a Football Club just needs to be a single brand and do nothing other than Football? Why can’t it offer other services to it local community as well as become a multi level business? If that can happen then BFC could venture into other businesses and use its asset base to own other income producing businesses. That way, it can be self-funding and grow its third party income above and beyond the Football requirements. We will be advising all of the fans of new services that may interest them as well as make the Club more profits in due course.
e) Improved turnover: thanks to the efforts of all the staff at the Club, we are pleased that the commercial income increased on the previous year and will increase again this year as we carry on improving the relationships we have with the current sponsors as well as attract new parties due to the positive buzz that the Club is now operating under.
f) Fan interaction: the majority of the fans have been amazing and its been so humbling to see so many turn up week in and week out both home and away. It has been amazing to get to know so many and they really do make the down periods worth it.
With all of the positives there are bound to be some negatives and it would be wrong not to address these at the same time:
a) AGM. The AGM has of yet, not taken place. This is not malicious or intended to hide anything (despite some of the fans comments – see below) BUT is simply due to the Board wanting to make sure that any issues within the Club was bottomed and put right before any such meeting. Whilst carrying out our on going process of understanding all aspects at the Club, our commercial lawyers identified an issue with the shares and the process of which they had been historically issued. This has now been resolved and is not an issue for any current shareholder’s today BUT could have been in the future. This matter can now be resolved quite easily and will be at the AGM with the shareholders. Due to the fact the next set of accounts can be formalized it seems logical to hold the AGM in September and allow the Board to accurately update the Shareholders on the current situation as well as plans for the next 1-3 years of strategic planning.
b) Lack of Fans Forums: it was intended to carry out more Q/A sessions with the Fans, but to hold nothing back the understanding of the Club has taken a lot more time than ever imagined and this had to take priority. We will hold a more regular series of Q/A sessions with different topics each time. Once the AGM has taken place we will immediately follow up with a series of dates and work alongside Forever Bury to make sure these dates are kept to a regular timeline.
c) Negative Fans: as stated above, the fans are the key to this club and the majority of them have been so positive it has helped the Club move along in so many ways. However, there is a small core that has taken it upon themselves to do as much negative output as they can. They think it’s beneficial to dig for as much dirt as they can and then border on being slanderous towards the Chairman in their comments. These are known as keyboard cowards in the industry and many of them are actually fans of other Clubs that pretend to be our fans in order to create bad feelings. I know that every club has them and it’s a burden that must be endured, but at the same time its interesting to point out that at no time have any of them turned up at the Club offering thousands of pounds from their own pocket, or offered to work for free to reduce costs or even offered new ideas to make the Club financially more secure.
All in all the year has been amazing, but the hard work must not stop as we have only just started to stop the rot and now is the time to start turning the corner.
During the course of the next few years, there will be many changes. Fans will see the assets been used as collateral for income producing investments, Fans will see the Club be used for a variety of different things and Fans will see improvements along the way.
But most of all Fans will see a Chairman led Board that will do what they can to move BFC away from the traditionalist views of a Football Club into one that can be seen as a market leader and change the overall outlook.
In closing, we thank you for the past 12 months and look forward to the Tuesday nights in the rain and the 8 hour round trips and the ups and downs of the game. After all, it’s the reason we do what we do.