November 11, 2015

Directors Report For 2015 AGM By Ken Masters.

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The start of our first season in non League football since 1920 was not the best. Altrincham was not a good experience and the situation was uncomfortable after the game. Braintree was even worse and I cut a lonely figure on 90 plus minutes walking back from the stand to the Directors area located in a cabin in one corner of the ground.   We had to stay strong and stay together and we did that. Our support was magnificent throughout.

Our away support outnumbered the home attendance at many venues around the Vanarama Conference Premier.  We were not to be beaten on the road again in 2014-15. We were only to be beaten twice more all season. The support for Darrell Clarke and the players grew and grew over the campaign; thank you and thank you again.   Barnet, Grimsby and Macclesfield had slipped up a few times. We had the best record in the second half of the season.

We travelled to Dover hoping on hope. Two minutes, just two minutes. With the final whistle blown and the ground pretty much deserted. We had to stay strong and stay together for the play off semis and we did that. The level of support at Wembley was beyond anything all the Conference clubs and all but a few in Leagues 1 and 2 could muster, imagine or even begin to think of aspiring to; thank you and thank you again.

Grimsby were formidable opposition. Like us, a former League club with a long tradition and they really wanted to win the game. When Lee Mansell stepped up I was thinking of all sorts; surely we had not worked so hard to fall at this very last hurdle. I was thinking of our supporters, Youth and Community and Education funding, and the Football Club for future generations. When Lee hit the back of the net the joy was massive but to be honest the overriding feeling that I had was one of pure relief.

It was a privilege just a week or so later to represent Bristol Rovers at The Football League Conference and AGM. I was the only delegate from our club so I covered all of the business, presentations and panel sessions. I voted on behalf of the club at the AGM. I also attended the meeting of League 2 clubs and was well and warmly received by member clubs and especially by York City, Yeovil Town and Plymouth Argyle who were very kind.

A day later I represented Bristol Rovers at the Football Conference AGM. I would mention Bath City and Weston-super-Mare football clubs particularly. We were warmly congratulated by the delegates from those two football clubs and we thank them most sincerely for their support and kind words.

League 2 is much better but with respect that is not where we want to be either. The job is not over; it has only just started. The Youth Academy is working well.  It is winning matches at youth level and progressing players to first team football and international under 21 level.

Bristol Rovers Supporters Club is the main and proud sponsor of Bristol Rovers Youth. The funding comes from the 50/50 half time draw. The contribution is significant not only by the sum raised over the season but by the level of funding that it generates in addition through The Football League Trust matched funding system. Thank you to our all of our SC volunteers, thank you to all of you for buying tickets and supporting the cause.

Thank you also to SC Branches at Weston–super-Mare and Norton Radstock for excellent organization, match day transport arrangements and fund raising over the past twelve months. Branch organisers, officers and members give up a good amount of their time and continue to sponsor the Football Club directly through corporate hospitality. In Addition, Weston is a proud sponsor of Bristol Rovers Youth.

My main responsibility to the Bristol Rovers Board continues to be that of Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bristol Rovers Community Trust. Relegation from The Football League presented a number of funding concerns. I knew of the continuing success of the Grimsby Town Community and Education work as members of the non League. I travelled to meet with Grimsby staff to share their experience and to learn from them

The work of the Trust continues to grow. The business strategy and operational objectives for inclusivity and widening participation ensures that we reach out to more and more people in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire areas. Trustees received and adopted the Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss accounts for the year financial year ending June 2015. The accounts show a healthy record with continuing growth in income and greater diversity of work; the level of surplus funds continues to increase.

The Football League Trust Capability Status document has been completed and returned following the promotion of the Football Club to the League.  There are a number of additions to the criteria for core funding since we last completed the document. Core funding from the FLT has been achieved for 2015-16. This is welcome since there was no core funding from the Football Conference.

All completing BTEC Level 3 students have passed with grades ranging from PPP to D*DD. The new cohort of Futsal scholars started in September. All current first Foundation Degree students have passed and will progress to year 2. A new cohort of year 1 students started in September. A contract has been signed with The Jason Roberts Foundation to deliver coaching and education in three venues across central and north Bristol. The work will run over the next three years.

I continue to present a written report to the monthly meetings of the Bristol Rovers FC Board. The report comprises a summary of all of my work over the month and a list of the main comments and concerns that I hear from members following direct face to face contact and communications.

I continue to compile the Supporters Clubs pages in the match day programme. In addition I write a new feature entitled “Up Front”.  However, it’s all about winning football matches.

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