|AGM SPECIAL REPORT 2003
(Monday 20th October 2003)
The re-election of retiring Director Alan Parry was the main talking point prior to the Club's AGM held on Monday 20th October 2003. Parry was being forced to stand against two members who felt it necessary, for the first time in 14 years, to challenge for a place on the Wanderers Board without invitation from existing Board members.
The candidates were Alun Crockford and Nigel Rowland, who along with Parry were given five minutes each, including questions from the floor, to put their cases across. As expected, Parry romped home, picking up 187 votes from the 242 members present. The remaining votes were split almost evenly between the other two candidates. However, the election proved a huge wake-up call for the Board with Club Chairman Ivor Beeks admitting later in the Fans Forum that followed the AGM, that once again communication needed to be improved and that he had 'lost touch'.
The Chairman had headed off his report to the members by saying that the Club had been forced to look hard at income and expenditure for the year in question and added that "Our tenants London Wasps last season made a hearty contribution by way of rent towards running costs of the stadium and shared in the commitment we made to the new ‘desso’ playing surface. I’m sure you will agree having finished the season having played 45 games of playing football and rugby, the pitch surface was in excellent condition and perhaps not quite as bad as many had first predicted." The Chairman went on to emphasise that it was the Board's view that the appeal against Wycombe District Council to ensure rugby could be played at the Stadium without additional persmission should not have been necessary and revealed the appeal had cost in the region of £15,000, before adding "Our successful appeal has paved the way for perhaps a longer term relationship with London Wasps. The Board believes it is in the best interests of the company and based on a successful partnership experience during the first year, is keen to extend the relationship."
The Chairman went on to reiterate the Club's strong commitment to developing home grown talent through the Club’s Centre of Excellence and community schemes. It was the youth policy, along with the stabilty of financial affairs and eventual promotion to Division One that remained the aim of the Club but the Chairman added "It is important to ensure that we put out the best and provide the best that we possibly can on the pitch."
However, actual on the pitch affairs were only mentioned in passing as the Chairman stated "We are not satisfied with the start of this season" and adding that interviews for the new Manager were currently taking place and that it was hoped that an annoucement could be made in the near future.
The Chairman concluded his report by thanking the staff and Directors at the Football Club for their commitment during the year in question and commented "Football in general and Wycombe Wanderers in particular are going through a difficult period. It is in these periods that support is essential. As a Board we try and make decisions for the best interests of the Club how ever difficult or controversial they may seem at the time."
Wanderers' Financial Director Rod Tomlin explained the financial statements for the year ending 31st May 2003 - a period where where the Club had declared a net loss of just under £390,000 but where the opening months of that financial year had seen the departure of the Chief Executive. Tomlin explained "It had become apparent operating costs were running significantly ahead of budget and income targets had been set in some areas of the business at unrealistic levels" Tomlin, who had taken on the role of acting Chief Executive, went on to add "Costs were brought under more effective control and we set about the serious task of rebuilding income streams. It is worth remembering that, in the absence of any real opportunity to attract new capital, the development of a series of income streams around the perimeter of the football business is of critical importance to a club like Wycombe Wanderers in helping feed sucess on the pitch. We are in the fortunate position to benefit from the legacy of an infrastructure which many other clubs admire"
Tomlin went on to explain the Club's assets and liabilities which include a real estate value of close to £6m but a 'potential debt burden' of roughly £2.1m which equated to 100% of the net assets in the balance sheet. Tomlin commented "Not only is this uncomfortable, despite low interest rates, but whilst examining every opportunity to introduce new free capital into the business the Board is forced to guide the business along a particularly critical path, adding "I am pleased to say that we are not carrying a burden of overdue debts and placed in an industry context we have a relatively strong, clean balance sheet"
Following the re-election of Alan Parry, the Club's auditors were re-appointed before the meeting was closed. As has become the norm in recent years there was no provision made in the agenda of the AGM for 'any other business' or questions from the floor. However, a Fans Forum following the AGM allowed members and non-members alike to put their questions to the Board, although these will go un-minuted. Reports from the Forum will follow.
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