Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Report On Businessmen's Meeting With Hereford Council

On behalf of a group of local businessmen, Jon Hale has tonight given an update on the meeting he attended with Herefordshire Council this afternoon.

Mr Hale attended the meeting alongside Phil Eynon, Richard Howard (a past Chairman of the Vice Presidents Club), Chris Williams, on behalf of Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST), and also Phil Pratt – an experienced chartered surveyor from Alder King Commercial Property Consultants – who is advising the group on issues relating to the leases and the commercial implications of the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Talking about the meeting, Mr Hale said:

“We had a very constructive meeting with officers from Herefordshire Council and on behalf of our group I’d like to thank the council for taking the time to see our representatives today and the officers themselves for taking such an interest in what we had to say.

“The meeting gave us the opportunity to talk about our plans to secure a sustainable future for professional or semi-professional football at Edgar Street and also demonstrate that we feel we already have a viable business plan in place. I am confident we were able to show how serious our proposals are and the level of professionalism within our group.

“As I explained last week, our proposals would see the creation of a new football club to play at Edgar Street - a club that is sustainable and community run, but with a number of local investors in the background to ensure it is built from a solid financial base. In our business plan the Chairman of HUST would take a prominent position on the club’s board, while we would also invite other HUST Board members to become Directors.

“Our ownership model would be similar to the one being run so successfully for Swansea City and no single investor would be able to secure a significant share holding. We would also always be open to like minded investors approaching us to help support the club and sustain a successful, long-term future.

“On the subject of investment, we have today been able to reassure the council that we already have a sum of £150,000 underwritten to see the club through the initial formation stages and also to assist with cash flow until the club is fully operational.

“We have explained to the officers at the meeting that because of the huge debts it carries, sadly our group feel that Hereford United 1939 Limited now has no long-term future and is simply not a viable business. This is not a situation that gives any of us any pleasure but using our pooled business experience we are united in our belief that this is now the case.

“One of the main points we made to the council today is the precarious situation Edgar Street now finds itself in. We believe there is a real danger there may be no football played at the stadium this coming season and that is something that worries us greatly. Beyond that, it would also be fair to say we have grave concerns about the future of Edgar Street full stop.

“With the council’s support relating to the existing leases, or at least to agree an initial licence to use the stadium secured to an agreement to grant new leases, we believe we could make our business plan operational almost immediately and, with the initial financial guarantors we already have, form a club and recruit players to compete in 2014/15. It would not be straightforward, but we would be committed to making this happen if there is any way it is possible.

“Clearly, at this point we cannot be sure what level a new club would be able to reform at, but we do believe the potential supporter base we have would make us an attractive proposition for a number of leagues.

“It is very pleasing that Hereford United Supporters Trust Chairman Chris Williams attended the meeting with us this afternoon and we hope this demonstrated to the council that our group is committed to working in partnership with the community.

“Chris has advised us that the Trust Board feel that any phoenix club would need professional business expertise to guide it and that is why we feel our group, working alongside supporters, could provide a bright future for football at Edgar Street.

“Out of respect for the council, at this stage I do not feel it would be right to go into any more detail about our meeting but I can guarantee that if there are any developments they will be made public at the earliest opportunity to ensure openness and transparency – something our group feels very strongly about.”