Please see update below (dated 19 June) after the initial statement…
The Supporters Co-operative understands that the Football Club are currently in discussions with two interested parties who are looking to acquire an interest in Stockport County.
During the last few months, the Co-operative has been monitoring the situation closely and has held meetings with Directors and Shareholders of the Football Club – including the two directors who are negotiating a potential deal and the Club’s largest shareholder.
We have expressed our concern that since exiting administration in 2010, Stockport County has lost our valued Football League status, which we have held since 1905 – and suffered a further relegation to part-time regional football. A position the Club will remain in for a 6th season, as a minimum.
In March 2015, Stockport County published a 5-year vision statement, entitled “Moving Forward”, which was welcomed by the Co-operative. These objectives included acquiring Edgeley Park and a training facility in the Borough and returning to the Football League by 2020. However, more than three years into this plan, it doesn’t look like any of these objectives will realistically be achieved.
The Supporters Co-operative would strongly recommend that any investment that can help us regain our Football League status be encouraged and that all shareholders be included in the review of any bids, especially the Co-operative as representatives of the fans.
As the formal, democratic representative voice of Stockport County supporters, the Co-operative holds shares in the Football Club, holding meetings with at least 2 directors on a 6 weekly basis, and look to represent the interests of Stockport County supporters – who are the largest stake holders in the Club.
We encourage all County supporters, currently not in memebrship, to join the Co-op, so that we have a more powerful voice – Stronger Together!
Please join, or renew your membership, via our website – COOP home on WebCollect
Stockport County Supporters Cooperative.
Update – 19 June 2018:
Report of Meeting of Representatives of the Boards of Stockport County FC and Stockport County Supporters Cooperative_- Monday 11 June 2018.
Representing SCFC: S Bellis, S Bellamy, M Cooke, S Dawson.
Representing SCSC: P Towey, J Giles, D Beaumont, E Keane, M White, I Brown.
Club Life President, by Invitation: S Cree.
The meeting commenced with an update from S Bellis for SCFC.
SB referred to what has been an extremely interesting and busy period for the football club, confirming that thus far there had been several approaches from parties interested in investing in the Club that were under full consideration.
Responding to a question from SCSC, the Club indicated that they could not reveal the names of any the party’s concerned, as the information was covered by NDA. However, it is worth noting that no deal is expected imminently, and the club has to work within the timescales of both what is a timely and orderly manner for the Club and the interested parties concerned.
The Club was now being viewed more and more as a definite, viable investment as it stabilised, and the Club Board were definitely open to engaging with potential investors of which there had been numerous in recent years.
Invariably these shows of interest have fallen down upon the request, by the Club, for proof of funds and sight of viable long term business plans, but there, thus far, is reason for optimism that the same is not true for those currently interested.
The Club will continue to encourage incoming investment, whilst always ensuring that we avoid the pit falls of the past that have brought us to where we are today, but until any agreement is reached with any third party the Board will continue to support the Manager and his budget.
SB indicated that the recent statement issued by SCSC was not helpful to ongoing negotiations but concluded by reiterating that they wanted a continued relationship with the Supporters Cooperative.
In response the Supporters Cooperative indicated disappointment with a lack of information forthcoming from the Club that was not helpful to SCSC or the supporters. We continue to look after the interests of our members and County supporters generally, and support the Club, but for us to do it properly and effectively, we need to be kept informed, particularly about the ongoing negotiations.
It was also felt that some statements by some Club Board members were unhelpful, and as far as the SCSC statement was concerned this only contained information already in the public domain and was necessary owing to the dearth of information available to us from the Club.
SC indicated at this point that he wholeheartedly agreed that there was a definite need for the Club to involve the SCSC more and keep them (and thus by extension the County fan base) better informed.
Q When any final decision is pending on incoming investment, will the matter be placed before all shareholders, and will SCSC have an opportunity to talk with the investor?
A. The potential investors behind the current bids have stated a willingness to meet with the Supporters Cooperative. On the question of any final offer/decision, to sell the club in its entirety this matter will be placed before all shareholders before execution of any deal.
Q. There is a pressing need for regular meeting between board reps of SCFC and SCSC, can this be implemented in future?
A. The Club were willing to agree to this suggestion, it was agreed that over the next few months while we build up a greater working relationship representatives of SCFC and SCSC boards meet more regularly.
In this respect it was further agreed that the first such meeting be in early July.
Q. Will general season ticket and walk up ticket prices remain as they are or increase, and will there be an `Early Bird’ offer this time?
A. The Club has confirmed no increase in prices for either was anticipated. There will be an ‘Early Bird’ offer again probably by early July.
Q. What will the 2018/19 playing budget be, and what is the increase in same this time?
A. Playing football budgets are generally not released by any football club, but it can be confirmed the budget as agreed with the Manager, was being increased, and underwritten by the Clubs active shareholders, and where appropriate further funds if necessary will be added to the budget.
Q. Can the Club let the SCSC Financial Adviser have access to the budget figures?
A. This may be possible later in the season, but not at this juncture.
Q. Can our Financial Adviser have access to the accounts.
A. Again, the Club will look at the possibility of this later in the season.
( Note: this matter is being further pursued with SCFC by SCSC.)
Q. What profit or loss are we looking at currently?
A. It is anticipated that a small loss will be incurred this time around, but after a situation not long ago when losses of £800k were incurred, this is disappointing but not a bad performance, and the loss has been underwritten by the active shareholders.
Q. Will there be a further write down of debts?
A. This has not been looked at as of yet, but it will be looked at and discussed seriously by the board when required.
Q. Clarification as to the make-up of published crowd figures was requested.
A. Season Tickets and walk up numbers make up the published crowd figure on a County match day. There are usually a good number of youngsters from local schools in attendance (13500 in 2017/18) and, whilst they are obviously included in the crowd figure, no income other than that from food and purchased merchandise is accrued from this element, which is investment for the future.
Q. How can we stop future owners from leveraging debts against the Club, using Edgeley Park?
A. In reality, this eventuality is almost impossible to avoid, but we are committed 100% to doing rigorous `due diligence` to cover this possibility and avoid mistakes of the past. In addition, it can be added that neither of the current bids want to take such an undesirable route.
Q. Are the Club open to other options regarding the purchase of Edgeley Park such as SCSC involvement, and part ownership and an equity share in EP via the Guardian Account. We do have, thanks to SCSC, an Asset of Community Value order on Edgeley Park currently, and this is due to be renewed in November, so we do have a role to play.
A. The Club are open to discussing other options and involvement by SCSC, and should the point be reached whereby Edgeley Park was about to be purchased, discussions will be initiated between Club and SCSC. It has to be said however that there is still a way to go as far as SCFC/ SMBC negotiations on the ground are concerned.
Q. What progress has been made in obtaining a permanent training facility for the Club?
A. Discussions are ongoing with SMBC as the Club seeks to progress this matter. A facility involving community element and Council and Club as well is the desired aim, meanwhile we will be utilising a mix of facilities at St Pauls School, Aquinas College, Cheadle Nomads and Manor Farm.
Q. What progress is the Club making in County going full time by 2020 in line with previous plans?
A. The Club are currently supporting the Manager and endeavouring to see that whatever he identifies as being needed in the move to FT is provided. The coming season will see the Club offering training to the players on Monday (am), Tuesday (pm), Thursday (pm) and Friday (pm), a flexible system that accommodates the needs of a reducing but valuable number of PT players, along with those committed to FT.
Q. Can SCSC have permission to have a stall inside EP and be able to also distribute leaflets to facilitate a possible membership drive at a game at the start of the season?
A. This should be possible, but the matter will be raised at board level.