September 6, 2016
The BRSC AGM is on Thursday 6th October 2016.
This report is Item 4 from the Agenda of that meeting.
To view the details of the BRSC AGM: Click HERE
BRSC CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2016
I have to admit that so impressed was I by Darrell Clarke’s first full season in charge at Rovers that when I penned last year’s report I was secretly expecting him to repeat his success as the club re-entered the Football League but, I didn’t want to make my views public in case things did not turn out as I thought they might. Well I should not have worried because ‘DC’ more than achieved what I thought might be possible with an astonishing second consecutive promotion, the first ever in Rovers’ history, and with basically the same set of players, five of them with no previous League experience, grabbing the final League 2 automatic promotion place in the most dramatic of circumstances – the third season on the trot when our destiny was decided in virtually the last minute of the campaign.
Slow starts, (some would say poor starts), and brilliant finishes were the feature of both those seasons and the same squad, with just one direct replacement in defence, is already showing the ability to compete successfully in League One as I write this in August. Again I will make no claims for our chances in another higher division but I am so pleased that we supporters have such a great manager in charge for the immediate future at least. Long may he reign.
As if the amazing continuing success on the field of play was not enough then we supporters had even more grounds for optimism with the shock takeover of the club by the Jordanian Al Qadi family back in February. Just as things were really taking-off on the playing side so the new owners swept in and swept away all the immediate doubts over Rovers’ future. The much argued-over High Court appeal against Sainsbury’s regarding the sale of the Memorial Stadium was already in process, was again ruled out in favour of the supermarket giants and any thoughts of a further appeal were immediately dropped. Just as well because my view is that our beloved club could well have been bankrupted by further, very expensive, legal action. The takeover brought about major change in the Boardroom with the Al Qadi family’s Dwane Sports Limited now owning 92% of the shareholding, the Supporters Club almost 6% and the rest held by individuals.
The previous Board was replaced by a new smaller one headed by President Wael Al Qadi and Chairman Steve Hamer, the latter having held a similar post at Swansea City in the past. Fortunately, the Supporters Club’s Share Scheme Agreement that was started in conjunction with the then Football Club Board back in 2002 remains valid and we continue with our two representatives, Ken Masters and Brian Seymour Smith, still on the Board and able to relay our member’s views. To date all our dealings with the new owners have been both amicable and positive so long may this situation continue and the Rovers can continue going from strength to strength.
Since the takeover I am continuingly being asked about the future of the Share Scheme as most members now consider it to have either outlived or to have achieved its original aims, depending on one’s point of view. We are currently in negotiation with the Board regarding the scheme that, it must be remembered, is still providing income for the Football Club; albeit much reduced from the payments when it first started operating. We will be contacting every current member when we have something to report from our talks with the Board but meantime our two Directorships remain guaranteed for the future.
We have now just completed our first year as tenants of our previously-owned shop at 199 Two Mile Hill Road, Kingswood and I’m disappointed to report that we still have work outstanding on the building with the new owner struggling to get everything completed. The has left our staff working in unsatisfactory conditions just when the club is at its busiest. We are doing everything we can to hurry the completion of works so that new carpets can be laid and the whole place made to look good as soon as possible. Meantime I must thank Berni, Paul, Teresa and the latter’s recent replacement Anna, for their continuing hard work during all the building work, its associated mess and of course the pressure of another promotion battle. I want the job done as soon as possible.
The Supporters Club’s premises seem to have been a real thorn in our side over the last year or so but members should have noticed at least one major improvement this year. The old cabin down on the old tractor shed site adjacent to the Clubhouse turnstiles, that we used both as a match-day shop and operating office, deteriorated rapidly since about eighteen months ago and started to leak rainwater like a sieve. This was clearly not acceptable as a public shop, nor were the rotten steps leading into it, so a new all-steel cabin was acquired as a sales point and thanks to Stadium Manager Ian Holtby we were able to locate it in the position of the previous Rugby Club cabin on a much better site in the car park at the top of the Dribuild Stand ramp. This has led to increased sales and a much better and safer environment for our staff and customers alike.
I must say that this cabin has been really well fitted out thanks to the great work of long term club member and volunteer Tim Rose and I am hoping we can call on his services again in the near future when we finally are able to rid ourselves of the old cabin that still acts as our match-day office. My grateful thanks also go to my Vice Chair Chris Walker for his leadership on the purchase and fitting-out of the new shop and to Sue, Berni, Sam, Sandra and the other helpers who still have to put up with a very damp and dismal office until we can replace it, hopefully in the very near future.
The continuing fantastic level of support for the team both home and away in another successful season means that memberships, coach travel and souvenir sales remain good and keeps our shop staff and volunteers extremely busy. The highly successful 50/50 half-time draw now regularly provides 1st Prizes in excess of £1,000 despite the introduction of a 2nd prize of £100. This Draw is of course dedicated to Rovers’ Academy and we are continually in talks with the Football Club to discuss what is needed by them as the new Board wishes us to continue our sponsorship.
The Supporters Club’s awards again took place on the pitch before those last dramatic 95 minutes against Dagenham & Redbridge and of course they mirrored the team’s brilliant achievements with the nation’s highest scoring professional footballer Matty Taylor winning the Player of the Year. He was close-run by the ever-dependable Tom Lockyer who instead collected another ‘Young Player’ trophy – a ‘hat-trick’ for the Welsh Under-21 International. The Youth Team Player of the Year was Alfie Kilgour who became the only member of the Academy squad to be taken on as a full time professional and his standing in the club was confirmed by Alf’s appearance in all of Rovers’ pre-season friendlies.
The members voted Billy Bodin’s super volley at home to Newport County as the ‘Goal of the Season’ although unfortunately it counted for little as Rovers suffered their biggest defeat of the campaign in that game. The Committee voted for Teresa Kolman as ‘Clubman of the Year’ for her long period of service in the Club Shop at Kingswood on Saturdays before her end of season ‘transfer’ into full-time employment by the Football Club in Pirate Leisure.
Finally, my thanks must go to all of your Committee, our two elected Directors, our shop staff, the army of matchday sellers and helpers for all their hard work during what was an incredibly busy but, of course, highly successful first season back in the Football League. The ‘bright young manager’ that I referred to at the end of last season’s report has continued to inspire both players and supporters alike and consequently our return to League One holds no fears for me and I’m sure that with your continuing incredible support and exciting new ownership our great football club will carry on to even greater things in the future.
Bristol Rovers Supporters Club.