The Directors of WFC, under the chairmanship of David Taylor, are committed to providing our supporters, the town and community with a football club to be proud of. We have a long and proud history, and our ambition is to ensure we have a thriving and successful club, that plays an even greater role at the heart of the community, on and off the field.CHALLENGES
The Club currently faces a number of challenges ? principally, without a doubt, Chris Ingram?s stated intention to cease funding the Club in the way he has done for the last six years beyond the current season. Chris stepped in when we most needed it, six years ago, with a promise to fund the Club for three years. We thank Chris for exceeding that period.
Chris has been publicly stating this intention for some time now ? e.g. at Fans? Forums and at the 2008 Holding company?s AGM. As a result, the Football Club Board have had the opportunity to plan for this eventuality for some time. It is time for us to be self-sufficient, and we have many new initiatives in place to create more revenue or to cut costs where possible ? in other words, to run the Club as we would any business.THE GROUND REDEVELOPMENT
The ground redevelopment plans have had a huge impact on the planning of the Club?s future. A huge (and costly) effort has been put into this plan ? mainly (as to the time ? and wholly as to the cost) by Chris Ingram. A year ago, these efforts seemed to be paying off and a competitive tendering process produced several viable bids. Unfortunately, the ?credit crunch? came along with the drop in property prices, which led to the bidders withdrawing.
It is worth stating the purpose and importance of the ground redevelopment. The Holding company owns the freehold of the ground and some surrounding land. The Holding company has also acquired the rights to purchase some of the surrounding properties. The intention is to sell some of this land for residential development and to use the funds received to develop the football stadium and repay debt. The redeveloped stadium would provide the Club with opportunities to increase revenues appreciably.
Unfortunately, these opportunities to raise more revenue from the redevelopment of the stadium are still some way off. That having been said, Chris Ingram intends to provide the funds to enable the Holding company to make an application for planning permission before the end of 2008. If this application were successful, we would be in a good position to move quickly when the economic factors become more favourable.ATTRACTING NEW SHAREHOLDERS
Whilst Chris has stated his intention to stop funding the Club?s losses, he has also recognised that he shouldn?t stand in the way of the Club raising funds from other quarters. One way the Club?s Board wishes to do this is by attracting new shareholders into the Football Club company itself, rather than in the Holding company, which currently has 61 minority shareholders ? i.e. apart from Chris Ingram. Chris has made an offer to these minority shareholders to buy their shares so that he can take 100% control of the Holding company. This will enable Holdings to pursue single-mindedly the redevelopment possibilities. The 61 minority shareholders will be invited to re-invest their proceeds in shares in the Football Club itself to preserve their valuable and long-standing relationship with WFC.
Part of the funding structure of WFC has always been that shareholders have paid an annual Capital Contribution per share they own. In recent years, this Capital Contribution has been ?150 per share per season. Ignoring Chris Ingram?s funds, the Club has raised around ?15,000 p.a. from the minority shareholders in this way. The new shares the Club intends to issue will also carry a commitment to pay an annual Capital Contribution ? this will be a vital element in the future funding of the Club.
In contemplating the ?post-Ingram? future of WFC, the Directors have had to consider how to achieve their ambitions for the Club. The Club is reliant upon the efforts of its many volunteers, which is indicative of the fact that, whilst it (the Club) is dedicated to its many community schemes, it is also dependent upon and representative of the Woking community. We want to provide a meaningful and affordable way for WFC supporters to involve themselves, through being shareholders, with the Club?s ambitions and ethos.THE NEW SCHEME
We feel it is very important that the ability to become a shareholder is accessible to as many supporters as possible. Our intention is that the shares will cost ?10 each and there will be a minimum purchase of 10 shares ? an initial commitment of ?100. We are looking at ways of making the ?100 payable in instalments.
In addition to the cost of buying the shares, we will propose that the annual Capital Contribution for 10 shares would be ?32 ? payable by monthly direct debit: i.e. ?2.67 per month (less than the cost of a pint of the excellent Cardinal?s Gold).
Whilst we are keen to get as many supporters as possible involved in this, there will be advantages to owning a greater number of shares. The Capital Contribution will reduce, in stepped changes, the more shares that are held. We are also suggesting that these ?non-Ingram? shareholders will be able to vote a director onto the Board amongst themselves. There will be further advantageous rights attached to being a shareholder, such as regular and exclusive ?meet the team? events.A NEW SUPPORTERS? TRUST
Having discussed the Club?s position and plans with the Supporters? Club committee, a ?Supporters? Trust?, called The Cardinals? Supporters? Society, has been formed as an Industrial & Provident Society with the Financial Services Authority (FSA). A framework such as this is essential for legal reasons.
The term ?Supporters? Trust? means different things to different people. In our case, this body has been formed principally to strengthen the bonds between the Club, the fans and the wider community and to represent the interests of the fans and the local community in the running of the Club.
The Supporters? Trust has not been formed, as such Trusts have at some other clubs, as a vehicle intended to own shares in the club on behalf of its members ? although there?s nothing to stop it seeking to do so if its members decided on it. I?m aware that the official WFC Supporters? Club, and others, have, in the past, looked into forming a Supporters? Trust. The fact that the Trust now exists will give the fans the ability to determine what its future role will be.
It is the Board?s intention to work closely with the Supporters? Trust at all times, including in the following ways:
Trust members will be given the opportunity to buy shares in the Club to raise funds for WFC
A representative of the Supporters? Trust will be invited to attend Board meetings of the Club
The Club will provide exclusive benefits to members of the Supporters? Trust.I NVITING APPLICATIONS
In the next few weeks the Supporters? Trust, with the Club?s full support, will be inviting applications for membership. Further information on this will be in the local press and on the Club?s website, including a ?frequently asked questions? paper. The Supporters? Trust membership application will be available from the Club offices, downloadable from the Club website, www.wokingfc.co.uk
, and distributed at the Stevenage BSP home game on 1 November.If you are interested in the future direction of WFC, please read this material and join the Supporters? Trust. Unless you are a current shareholder of Holdings you will need to be a Supporters? Trust member to have the opportunity to buy shares in the Club.