OXVOX AGM – 27 November 2021
1. Welcome and introductions
Attendees were Paul Peros, Ali Wolfe, Simon Hathaway, Trevor Lambert, Ian Coleman, Robert Weavers, Ben Heath from the trust committee and 23 other members. Apologies had been received from 11 members including Maurice Earp, Michelle Young and Jemma Hayward from the committee.
Paul began by welcoming all those attending despite the freezing weather. The pandemic had made for a very tough 18 months and it was great to be able to meet fans again.
2. Result of election of Board members
The members up for re-election this year, Trevor and Maurice, were returned uncontested as there were fewer candidates than places available on the committee. Hence no membership voting was required. We continue with nine elected members plus Michelle Young who has been recently co-opted, initially until the next AGM as per the trust’s rules. Michelle brings great experience in financial roles and in working with one of the country’s leading stadium builders.
3. Resolution – Independent Examination of accounts
Trevor explained the need for the meeting to agree a resolution to continue next year to accept an independent examination of accounts at nominal cost rather than undertake a full audit at a cost of several hundred pounds. We were fortunate to have the help of Nicola Bateman FCCA who has donated her fee to the trust in recent years. The resolution to continue with this process was passed unanimously on a show of hands.
4. Treasurer’s report and accounts
Trevor introduced the accounts for the year to September 30 2020 – download http://www.oxvox.org.uk/wp-
He noted that the year to September 30 2021 had ended: the accounts for that year are in preparation and will be reported at the next AGM, which should ideally be held before the end of March 2022 to get the AGM schedule back on track.
Key points: Nicola Bateman FCCA had again acted as the independent examiner of the accounts – thanks to her for her careful work, and as in previous years, she had kindly waived her fee which we had allocated to our fundraising for projects. Turnover of £9867 and expenditure of £8970 had resulted in a surplus of £897 on the year. The turnover was higher than usual due to £5660 having been raised for the East Stand Mural against a cost of £6224, the remaining £564 having been paid from trust funds. The Jim Smith surfer had incurred a net cost of £350 from trust funds after donations from fans and the players. The Blue Plaque at the Britannia Arms, commemorating the formation of the club, had cost £502 from trust funds. Other spending had been administrative. On the income side, membership fees had totalled £3542 but there were many life membership updates, which had implications for future income. The trust held £14613 in its accounts at the end of the financial year.
5. Performance report and projects
Paul reported verbally on the work of the committee and introduced other committee members to describe projects in which they were involved.
This had been a strange time for OxVox with covid limiting our ability to engage in projects. We had tried to support members, fans and the club at this difficult time.
Flags and banners: The trust had arranged banners and flags for the playoff semi-final games in both seasons and the Wembley playoff final of 2020. In each case we had great support from fans in loaning their flags and in helping to install them and recover them afterwards. It was a collective effort to try and keep a presence for the club in the empty grounds, and everyone involved can be very proud of its success.
Fans’ video: We also organised a fans’ video which was played to the players before the playoffs and huge thanks go to Connor Casey who created the finished product. Karl Robinson used it before the matches and told us that the players really enjoyed it.
Club finances: Paul reported that with Ben and Michelle he had recently met Tim Davies, the club’s financial officer. Paul introduced Ben who gave a brief rundown of the club’s overall financial position, drawing on his report previously distributed to members and included in issue 2 of the Vox newsletter. Essentially, due to its current situation at the Kassam stadium, the club was running at an annual loss of some £3m, which has been offset in recent years by the player trading model, currently with good results. However, it did presume a continued ability to locate and develop players to trade for substantial fees, without unduly weakening the first team squad and having an adverse impact on results. The Club is dependent on shareholder loans which are less than some other clubs but ultimately repayable to the shareholders. Sustainability in the longer term would require increasing revenue sources or shareholders converting loans to share capital.
Thursday night social: Ali organised Thursday night Zoom sessions open to fans feeling the pressure of lockdowns, or just wishing to chat with other fans they were unable to meet in person. It was really enjoyable to connect with fans in this way, and special thanks are due to James Constable who gave up an evening to be involved.
Big Brothers Big Sisters: Paul introduced Robert from the committee who told us of his involvement with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring project in Oxfordshire (https://bbbsuk.org/) which is designed to help young people achieve their potential and increase their self-esteem. Robert was meeting with the club to discuss how he and OxVox can involve fans who are interested in becoming mentors for this exciting project.
Cherwell Larder appeal: We were unable this year to repeat our collection for the Oxford Food Bank due to pandemic restrictions. Instead, we worked alongside the club with Emily Connelly and her band of volunteers at Cherwell Larder in Kidlington. The Larder not only collects and distributes food to those in need in and around Kidlington, but they also provide clothing, cooking advice, demonstrations and menu planning, sustainable food growing kits and advice. We got involved alongside the club, who during lockdown had used the training ground chefs and kitchen to cook meals from Larder donations. We visited a number of times to lend our support and set up a donation page which raised £750 for the work.
Mickey Lewis: After the tragic loss of club legend Mickey, we were able to lend our support in a number of ways including funding and producing a Mad Dog tribute banner which can still be seen in the North Stand on matchdays.
Vox newsletter: Simon from the committee was introduced by Paul and gave a description of the Vox newsletter, issue 2 of which was circulated at the meeting and is now available in online form here. Simon said that the aim of Vox was to pull together details of recent trust activities and provide an accessible and readable summary of what the trust was about, to reach out beyond the current membership. It is hoped that Vox will be widely read and that we will get contributions for fans and members to expand its appeal.
OxVox ‘Andy James’ Supporter of the Year: Paul reported that we had previously discussed the creation of an annual award for supporters and we had decided the obvious name to attach to it. It was a marvellous coincidence to be contacted by Stuart from Andy’s family who offered to help and were very happy to see Andy’s name commemorated in this way. Paul Smith has made a terrific wooden trophy shield that will be awarded annually to the supporter chosen by the fans as having made the greatest contribution to the life of the club in the previous year. The club are very supportive and the first award presentation will be held shortly at the training ground, where the trophy will be on permanent display with details of the winners. Huge congratulations go to Michael North as the first winner. Michael will be known to many through his match day stall selling programmes and memorabilia.
6. Close of AGM
Paul closed with thanks to the rest of the committee. The formal business of the AGM was declared to be completed and the Q&A session began.
Q. A member thanked the committee for their work and for the regular email communications.
A. Paul thanked the member for his comments.
Q. Is the creation of the supporters’ panel detrimental to OxVox?
A. Paul said no, and he views the panel as another step, along with the work of OxVox, on the path towards having supporter representation on the club board, and for that reason the committee was on the whole supportive. The panel has a clear remit to focus on the match day experience, just as OxVox has a wider role primarily focusing on the medium and long-term issues for the club and other matters beyond what happens on a match day. The different natures of the two organisations were important – the panel originating as a club initiative and not being membership-based, OxVox being an independent fans’ initiative based on a paid membership model and accountable to its members. We remain available to members and fans who wish to raise issues with us. Where there are areas of overlap it wouldn’t matter who resolved an issue. Nevertheless, we would be wary of potential problems as things develop.
Q. Is there evidence of a long term plan for the club?
A. Paul cited the developments that have taken place over recent years, including the acquisition and setting up of a permanent training ground, the creation and implementation of the player development and trading model, and the building up of the academy and youth teams and of the women’s team, as evidence of long term planning and moves to grow the club and make it sustainable.
Q. What’s the situation with the takeover – should we be worried?
A. Paul’s view is that the delay in EFL ratification of the takeover is evidence of a more thorough approach from the EFL and is nothing to be particularly concerned about. Having met Anindya Bakrie briefly, he had agreed that in the future bringing the club and stadium under common ownership was an important aim on the path to long term sustainability. Bakrie also recognised the need for greater communication with supporters and OxVox will work with him and the board to help achieve that. It’s unclear at the present what role Tiger will have in the future but he is likely to still be involved. We would also expect to see and hear more of Horst Geicke and Eric Thohir.
Q. What about stadium developments, given the Kassam stadium license expires in less than five years?
A. Paul said that everyone involved is fully aware of the situation. For the present, the relationship with Firoka is better than it has been for some time. OxVox does not wish to add to speculation about a new stadium, or possible sites. We have asked that fans be kept fully informed of significant developments as early as possible, and we continue to press on the need for regular open forums with board members.
Q. What do you think about further ticket offers e.g. kids for a quid?
A. Paul said there is obviously a role for these offers from time to time, but it should be recognised that they are sometimes a loss leader. That said, if they encourage new young fans, the fans of the future, to attend then it is very helpful. Initiatives to fill the many empty seats are good, provided that the club does not lose out financially by doing so. We have often made suggestions for ticketing initiatives and have found the club to welcome ideas, and on occasion to take them up.
End of meeting
Paul thanked everyone for attending on an exceptionally cold afternoon and the meeting ended at approximately 1.40 pm.
OXVOX AGM 2021 – RESOLUTION (agenda item 3)
It is hereby resolved that subject to the provisions of section 4a of the 1968 Friendly and Industrial and Provident Societies Act, the members of the Society shall not require an audit for the accounts covering the financial year ending on 30 September 2021, when they are presented to the next AGM held in 2022.
The members of the society agree that the accounts for the financial year ending on 30 September 2021 and for which reports will be laid before the following AGM do not require a full audit provided that:
1. The total income for that year does not exceed the threshold laid down by FSA/Supporters Direct for audit exemption (currently £25,000),
2. An Independent Examination of those accounts is carried out in place of the full Audit,
3. The Independent Examination is carried out in line with the best practice of FSA/Supporters Direct as set out in the Guidance Notes,
4. A report from the Independent Examiner is included within the Accounts and circulated to members.
The Society notes that
1. The Independent Examination does not carry the same weight as a full Audit,
2. The members of the Trust instruct the Board to identify a suitably qualified practitioner to undertake the review,
3. The Board shall agree the appointment of the examiner and shall agree the terms of that appointment in writing,
4. FSA/Supporters Direct has no liability in respect of any Trust Accounts,
5. FSA/Supporters Direct will use the report of an Independent Examiner when considering your Trust’s eligibility for membership as against criteria in its membership policy.
Note: This resolution must be passed by 80% of the members voting in person and by proxy, and only comes into force if it is passed by that margin AND the numbers voting against do not equal more than 10% of those members eligible to vote.