Earlier this week, Chris Gardner spoke to Jeff on two occasions and had an open conversation with him. During these meetings, Jeff made it clear that he was completely against the Supporters Trust idea. This is because he believes that the job of running the club can be done by the fans, and he does not want outside groups (aka Supporters Direct) being a part of this.
As much as I do not agree with his judgement (I feel he hasn't taken the time to discover exactly what a Trust can offer us), we still need to take this on board. Jeff's ideal solution would be a "Vice President's Club." This would involve supporters creating standing orders and therefore making a set weekly contribution. After discussing this and gauging opinion, we don't believe that this would create sufficient funds to run the club. Also, I think that this is a passionless method of supplying funds. I would much rather we gain funds by blood, sweat and tears, as this will give us a much tigher "community spirit" that the club needs.
Before last nights meeting we then discussed exactly how we can meet Jeff half way, so that the club is run purely by the fans but we still can raise funds in the same way. After seeking legal and financial advise, it was recommended that we form our own Limited Company. This company will suit both parties, as it means that we are dealing with an entity which Jeff knows and trusts, and was voted for last night as the way to progress within these limitations. This company will have three directors who were elected last night, namely Chris Gardner, John Morris, and Gary Sutton. This is the minimum number of people we must have to start a company, but this can be increased in the future by electing fellow supporters.
The lease for the ground has been signed by Jeff for 15 years at the cost of around £8,500. It costs over £1000 per week to open the gates (including costs like insurance, bills, rates etc.) We will need to secure a sub lease to enter a league, so this a bare minimum we must get if we are to play football next season. We believe that we will need a minimum of 10 years sub lease to be allowed into the leagues were are aiming for (I will go onto this). Figures ranging from between £700 and £1000 have been mentioned as the cost per week to get the sub lease, but nothing official has been agreed. One thing that has been made clear however is that Jeff will not be making a profit out of us.
Also, it was voted and passed that John Batch will be the First Team Manager next season. As the squad will consist mainly of this seasons reserve team, it was felt that he would be the perfect man for the job. John is Canvey through and through, and will be undertaking this role without demanding a fee or wage.
The level of football we will be aiming for Level 8 (Southern League Division East preferably, but the Isthmian League Division 1 is also an option.) However, this is decided by the National Game Board through the FA, so they will indicate where we can play after hearing our intentions. John believes (as do most people) that with his current squad, along with some good signings, we will be able to compete in this league and generate local interest/enthusiasm.
All in all, there will be some FACTS about next season that people will need to accept. Firstly, Jeff King will be our landlord as he owns the lease. Personally, I would much rather us deal with Jeff King directly than through the Council as whatever people may say, he will deal with us under the basis that he wants the Football Club to continue.
Secondly, we are all going to have to push, recruit, advertise, drag in if necessary, the people to attend matches. We believe that attendances of around 300-350 will be sufficient, with potential pricing structures (only suggested at the moment) of £7 Adults, £1 Child.
Thirdly, and most importantly, we must stick together and go forward as a unit. There is no point on dwelling on what has happended, we have initiated "Plan B" and we are going to need everyones support to make this work and ensure our football club remains.
If anyone has any questions that I have not answered in this post, please post them and I will reply to the best of my ability.