I have today resigned as a director serving on the board of Bristol Rovers Football Club. I have taken this decision after a good deal of thought and much soul searching. I have not taken the decision lightly.
It is with deep regret that I could not in all good conscience approve either the Bristol Rovers (1883) Limited accounts or the Bristol Rovers Football Club Limited accounts for the financial year through June 2019. I have not been given access to a current budget July 2019 through June 2020. I have been given no introduction to newly appointed auditors to ask questions or to express my concerns. I have not been invited to attend a Board Meeting since March 5th 2019.
I have been suspended and effectively excluded from all Board matters with no good reasons being substantiated and no response to communications in relation to these matters since January. I was asked to stand down in November. I was told the reasons were confidential with no further explanation given and relayed to me by former club director Mike Turner by telephone call and reiterated by the present CEO during a face to face conversation in a public place at the stadium prior to a game. There has been no adequate and sufficient response to questions asked firstly by Supporters Club Chairman Jim Chappell and subsequently when lawyers representing me requested the confidential reasons. My suspension and banning from directors seating and areas at football matches home and away, was relayed to me by being copied in to an email from the Club’s lawyers to Jim Chappell.
I am in no position to assess the current financial well-being of the Company or otherwise. I am in no place to assess, predict or forecast the financial state of the Company going forward. I have been given no comfort that the company will necessarily be supported as a going concern. I have no confidence or trust in any corporate governance going forward under the proprietary operational methods now employed by the Club. My position is therefore untenable. As a consequence I have informed the club’s lawyers I am standing down as a director of the football club I have supported for all of my life. It has been a considerable honour and privilege to serve.
I have always done my best to be honest and open and to talk face to face with many supporters. However, being a director of a company, any company, comes with confidentiality and communication restrictions. Supporters Groups elected directors of football clubs and other sporting clubs find this to be difficult at times and many step down from the role after a relatively short period of time. I have given many years service to the club I love and I’m sure the vast majority understand that as a good honest man I have remained in the role not for any personal gain but to protect the generous shareholding that I have been proud to represent.
We owe a great deal of gratitude to share-scheme members, past and present, for their commitment and generosity to the cause. A further £120,000 has been raised over the past four years. It is disappointing that not a single share certificate has been issued over that time despite numerous requests. Other groups too, Helpline Members and the President’s Club not least who have also contributed generously. I have developed a strong bond with the Presidents Club and I have the greatest of respect for their work and for their financial contribution over the years. Bristol Rovers supporters are simply the best.
I am proud of the progress and work of the Youth Academy. When I joined the Board the Under18’s group were under the auspices of Filton College. The Board led by Geoff Dunford and then Ron Craig supported my proposition that the group be brought in house as paid apprentice professionals. I asked the Supporters Club Committee for financial sponsorship in this regard. The committee led by Jim Chappell agreed and remain proud sponsors to this day.
I am proud of the work of the Community Trust. When I joined the Board the education element was in mothballs and the community work comprised the then well respected Football in the Community. Ron Craig asked me to take up the reigns and I readily agreed. Education has been re-established and student numbers are in excess of fifty full-time extending to degree level. The work in the community has grown massively with the aims of inclusivity, diversity and widening participation and inclusivity.
Building on the good work with Women’s and Girl’s Football project the highly successful Bristol Rovers Women’s Football Club has been formed. Once again I asked the Supporter’s Club Committee for financial sponsorship and once again they supported me; my grateful thanks. The work of the Trust has been recognised with five major awards over the past two years. I take immense pleasure from the work of the Community Trust over time. It has been an immense pleasure to lead a dedicated group of Trustees and I thank them with all sincerity for their contribution and for the support they have given me to demonstrate the standards required for capability, good governance and sound financial management.
I wish to thank staff and volunteers at the Football Club, at the Community Trust and at the Supporters Club, past and present, for their considerable help, cooperation and friendship over the years; so very much appreciated. I wish to thank my family for their, support, sacrifice, tolerance and understanding. The past year, especially, has been as difficult for them as it has been for me.
I will remain a proud supporter of the famous blue and white quarters, front and back, through thick and thin and always. I have no affinity to any other football club. Along with thousands of good and true I love the Club, it’s long tradition, it’s place in our city and it’s place in our region.
Please keep safe and well until we are able to come together again to enjoy our football. UTG.