OXVOX AGM – 8 October 2022, 12.30, Manor Lounge
1. Welcome and introductory remarks
Attendees were Paul Peros (PP), Simon Hathaway (SH), Trevor Lambert (TL), Ian Coleman (IC), Ben Heath (BH), and Michelle Young (MY) from the trust committee and 25 other members. Apologies had been received from 11 members including Maurice Earp, Ali Wolfe (AW), Robert Weavers, and Jemma Hayward from the committee.
PP began by welcoming and thanking all those attending, and all our members for their support. The input of members defines what we do and we could not do it without your help. With covid related disruption now happily behind us we are working to bring the AGM on to a more familiar timescale.
PP said that these are interesting and important times for our football club. Now more than ever it is important that supporters have a strong voice in the future of the club.
Before proceeding further with the meeting, the committee placed on record our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the 125 football fans who had died earlier in the week in Java in Indonesia. The UK has also had to deal with this kind of heart-breaking tragedy and our thoughts are with them.
PP said that with so much going on at the club, we would keep the formal business short to allow maximum time for questions and discussion. We keep members informed about our activities with regular email and website updates so we would not go into unnecessary detail in this meeting.
PP introduced TL to present and approve the accounts.
2. Treasurer’s report and accounts
TL presented the accounts for the year to September 30 2021 (available for download at http://www.oxvox.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/OxVox-Accounts-2020-21.pdf and previously distributed by email link in advance of the meeting). He noted that the year to September 30 2022 had already 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 the season to get the AGM schedule fully back on track.
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.
The year, one in which activity levels were severely affected due to the covid pandemic, showed a deficit of £251 on a reduced turnover. Apart from the normal costs of running the trust, the largest spending item was £750 on Cherwell Larder sponsorship, which was offset by £557 of fans’ donations, with the balance being taken from trust reserves. £13,943 was held in trust accounts on 30 September 2021. In reply to a question from the floor, TL confirmed that this included £2716 recovered during the year from the defunct and archived Yellow Future Fund account, which had taken some months to retrieve.
3. Resolution – Independent Examination of accounts for the 2023 AGM
TL 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 continued help of Nicola Bateman FCCA who has donated her fee to the trust in recent years.
The resolution to approve the accounts and to continue with the independent examination process for 2023 was passed unanimously on a show of hands.
4. Result of election of Board members
Each year the longest serving one-third of the committee stand down but can re-apply for election if they wish. The members up for re-election this year were PP, AW, and SH from our committee of nine (plus MY as a co-optee). Four places were available for election to the committee, given its maximum size of ten. All three wished to stand again and in addition MY stood for election, having been a co-opted member. No other candidates came forward and hence no membership voting was required. We continue with a full complement of ten elected members including MY, and under our rules we now have two places for co-opted members until the next AGM in 2023.
RIP Two OUFC legends
Sadly we have had to turn our attention to the tragic loss of two OUFC legends.
Mickey Lewis passed away last year and along with joining the club to raise funds for Mickey’s family we created and paid for the ‘Mad Dog RIP’ banner which is often on display around the ground on match days.
Dealing with these dark days is never easy and the shock when hearing the news of Joey Beauchamp’s death must have affected every U’s fan. We raised money for a floral tribute which, accompanied by Joey’s family and other members of the club, we laid in the goalmouth on what was a massively moving day. We also helped finance and organise the fabulous Fanatics surfer in his honour.
Our thoughts are still with their families and with all those of supporters who have passed away in the last year.
PP directed attention to the badges being worn today by committee members. This is an initiative we are about to launch to allow members and supporters to show visible support of the club’s efforts to build a community stadium at Stratfield Brake. The badges are made of sustainable wood and show the community stadium logo and our hashtag #MakeTheBrake . This hashtag was thought up by our Vice Chair AW. It is part of our drive to show local councils and the communities of Kidlington and Oxfordshire that the silent majority support this project. In future weeks you will be hearing more about these badges, for which we are asking £2 to cover production costs.
Supporter of the Year
It was a huge pleasure to get the OxVox Andy James Supporter of the Year award up and running, with a presentation to the winner, Michael North, in April. Fellow nominees Mark Lambourne, Chris Derry, and the evergreen Ron ‘RocketRon’ Slater also deserve our congratulations. We would like to thank Karl Robinson, Chris Williams, Gary Bloom, and all at the training ground for making it such a good day with a tour of the ground followed by watching a players’ training session. Special thanks go to Paul Smith who made the magnificent trophy ( http://www.oxvox.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/SOTYtrophy.jpg ) and refused to accept any payment for it.
We have been working hard on improving our communication and the newsletter is now fully up and running and has reached issue 3 (http://www.oxvox.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/OXVOX-News-Issue-3.pdf ). SH described his work on the newsletter and the aim to create a more accessible summary of the trust’s work which would help to reach out to non-members. He welcomed suggestions for content and comments on the ease of use and topics covered in the issues to date.
Charitable and other projects
We have future intentions to work with Cherwell Larder, building on our initial fundraising efforts, with the Oxford Food Bank, with whom we have previously arranged match day donations, with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring organisation, and with charities working with underprivileged children in Africa.
The stadium project
PP reported that a lot of our time has been devoted to supporting the stadium project. At the previous two AGMs we were able to only hint at a measure of confidence about what was being done behind the scenes to advance the project. It has been incredibly positive to see all the hard work now able to be shared. While it is important to stress that some aspects must still remain confidential, we are now able to discuss more openly the plans in place.
PP said that, as some may be aware, he spoke on behalf of Oxford United supporters at the County Council cabinet meeting to determine if the project application could move to the next stage. OxVox had worked closely with the club for a number of years on this project and the approval to go to the next stage marked an important milestone. Work behind the scenes continues and PP anticipated that members present would probably have questions.
6. Close of AGM
Paul closed the formal business of the AGM and opened the Q&A session.
Question: How is the stadium being financed?
Response: PP confirmed that we will be discussing all aspects of the stadium plans including financing with the appropriate people at the football club.
Question: Do the owners and directors have a model of how they built stadiums elsewhere?
Response: Yes, replied PP, through Erick Thohir’s involvement with DC United in the US. OxVox has been in touch with supporters of DC United and have been impressed by the efforts to establish a new stadium there and to grow the value and attractiveness of the club.
Comment: As a supporter since 1959 and a Manor Club member I value the social side of the club. When covid shut everything down it was devastating. On return now I feel treated with contempt by the club, being charged £200 to access a lounge and £7 for a beer with no reserved car parking. The VIP car park and entry lane is insulting to regular supporters.
Response: PP confirmed that we will be meeting with the commercial staff at the club very soon with regard to next season’s offer and plans. It is widely recognised that aspects of how things were handled this year did not sit well with many long standing fans.
Comments from the floor:
1) Money is important, but we should be cautious to avoid too much emphasis on the corporate side of things. We have to be careful not to stumble into a Kassam mark 2.
2) Regarding VIPs, it shouldn’t be a question of either or. The club needs corporates as well as regular fans and makes essential income from both.
Question: Do supporters’ trusts communicate with one another?
Response: TL commented that he was on the League 1 & 2 FSA mailing list representing OxVox, as was the OUSP Secretary Janine Bailey. This was a useful sounding board on issues affecting clubs nationally. PP added that we have many one to one contacts with other club’ trusts, for example Coventry City’s trust had been very helpful in advising on the catastrophic effects of ground sharing arrangements at the time this was being mooted by some as a possible interim arrangement for OUFC. Our experience was that trusts were very supportive of one another when required.
Question: What do you think of the Tracey Crouch review?
Response: We are very aware of its valuable work and very supportive of many of the proposals, with the creation of an independent regulator being one of the most important ideas. The concern is that with the current political changes and priorities the review should not be left to gather dust.
Question: Will there be a social club at the new ground? We miss it, Fleetwood is a good example of how to do it.
Comment: It will we hope be a priority to design into Stratfield Brake facilities for fans pre and post-match, replied PP.
Comment: I have an elderly father. The season card arrangements were badly communicated. There are parking issues with disabled spaces. The arrangements are stressful.
Response: PP hoped that OxVox and OUSP could help with reviewing these and other issues for next season to ensure that matters were addressed. We are at Grenoble Road for a number of years and we need to make it the best possible experience for fans despite its obvious limitations.
Question: Will you be holding a membership drive?
Response: PP replied it was a priority in the coming months to contact and recruit as many members as we possibly could, to add to our influence on the stadium and other matters.
End of meeting
PP thanked everyone for attending. He concluded by thanking committee members for their hard work and dedication, and thanking members for their support of OxVox. At this vital time your support is really making a difference. All we can ask is that you keep feeding back to us on all the issues that matter to you, and that you help us to bring more members to join us so that we continue to thrive.
The meeting ended at approximately 2.10 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:
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
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.