City Fans United’s Annual General Meeting took place last night in the Blues Bar at Chester FC, and Chairman, Tony Durkin spoke about the challenges and success that Chester FC had experienced in the last 12 months.
In his opening statement, Durkin said, “My first year in office as Chairman has been a considerably challenging but equally rewarding one. Despite the challenging financial situation we have much to be positive about having returned to Conference football in our third season as a reformed club. Neil Young and his team achieved a notable third successive championship, winning in style with a record 107 points and over 103 goals giving us a healthy margin over second placed Guiseley with a mere 91 points.
On top of this success we went on to pick up awards for Manager of the Season, Young Player of the Year for Antoni Sarcevic and latterly awards for George Horan and of course for our unsung hero Barrie Hipkiss at the North West Football Awards. I also would like to acknowledge Neil’s honorary Masters of Art degree awarded by the University of Chester.
Last season was a truly memorable one, with much to be proud of on the pitch, well-done Neil and his backroom staff and to all of the players. We now face our stiffest challenge to date on the pitch, survival at this level. We have all seen the gulf in standard between this and the previous league, I believe that we are not that far away from a team that will survive and with a few small tweaks in the squad I am confident that we will survive.
Durkin, also encouraged fans to back the Manager, “I urge you all to join our board members in getting behind Neil and his team for the rest of the season. We will soon be sitting down with Neil to talk about his future beyond May 2014, and taking us forward to next season.”
The Chairman also then offered his thanks to various people for their support in the past 12 months for their significant efforts this year in helping to move our club forward in many area’s of the business:
- To our retiring Company secretary Campbell Smith and our new secretary Marion Needham for their attention to detail in all aspects of the secretarial position.
- To my fellow directors and co-opts, those standing down and those carrying on, thank you for your time, your commitment and your support.
- To all of our working parties and committee’s, Brian Burns and his group for their amazing fund raising activities. Richard Lynes and his governance group for their work in putting process and procedure in place around the business and to Mike Vickers and Jim Keegan for their work around the restructuring documents which were discussed later in the meeting.
- Our Youth Development section continues to thrive and grow under strong leadership from Mark Howell and Bernard Concannon with more sections added this year. Sean Miller and Tom Peers now have contract forms with CFC and Sean has recently gone out on loan to Clitheroe, best wishes to those boys and we look forward to seeing further players develop through the ranks in the future. A big thank you to Mark and Bernard and all the coaches for their time and effort. I strongly believe that Youth Development is the way forward for Chester FC.
- To all of our volunteers, admin workers, raffle ticket, 50/50 and programme sellers, turn style operators, cleaners, handymen, match day volunteers, our announcers, bar staff, club shop staff, our club secretary, its endless, thank you all so much, without you all we would not be able to operate.
- A special thanks to our groundsman Steve Ollerenshaw for his amazing efforts in maintaining our pitch in fantastic condition throughout the season despite the number of games and training sessions that take place during the season. At the end of last season Steve was honoured with the runner up award for Goundsman throughout the Conference leagues. A thoroughly deserved award. Well done Steve and thanks from us all.
- To my vice chair, Steve Ashton, for his support over the last year and always being available to assist.
- One final thank you to a special group of people who have served this club tirelessly over the years, The Hipkiss family, above and beyond the call of duty, thank you so much, you are what Chester FC is all about.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Laurence Kirby and his financial team for their fantastic work they have done this year to improve and implement systems, controls and information within our financial department. For those who do not know Laurence he is group financial director for Plexus Ltd, he is a Chartered accountant with some 35 years of experience in a corporate environment. I have full confidence and trust in Laurence’s ability and ethic to ensure that our finances are now and will be kept in good order.
Please just take a moment to reflect on this. Chester FC is a young evolving business, like many new businesses it is going through a learning process, even so it has continued to move forward positively. The success on the football pitch that we have experienced would be very difficult for any club to keep up with off the pitch even with a wealthy chairman or a rich benefactor. We need to be realistic about our situation. I believe that we have suffered a one off, a glitch in our finances, which we now have under control.
Compare us to other Conference Premier clubs posting huge six figure losses, and accumulating huge debt. Chester FC have no debts.
We are in a unique position and we have an exciting future in the hands of the members and people of Chester to push on to success in the future.”
Laurence Kirby then gave an honest and frank commentary on this year’s accounts, and the detail, behind the loss of £90k including a one off exceptional item of circa £10k. The money relating to this item is still within the sub groups connected to the football club but no longer sits on the football club’s accounts.
Standing down from the board this year were Jane Hipkiss, John Martin and Mike Vickers, all of whom were thanked for their support and efforts during not just the past year, but from when they had become board members. Elected to the board were David Foster and Jim Keegan, the latter of which had been co-opted to the board during the past 12 months.
A Q+A session followed the Chairman’s statement and subsequent financial commentary, and full AGM minutes will be distributed to CFU members shortly.