P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

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Levi
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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Levi » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:47 am

Morning all,

I'm not normally one for social media but I do keep an eye on the forum and it probably falls to me to respond to this thread given the unique role that I currently have. The below is a combination of fact and my own opinion.

Whoever took on this directorship (especially the first man at the crease, as it were) was inevitably going to have their own way of doing it and was going to have to establish the interfaces between Club, Trust and wider fan base. That's a big part of why the job interested me to be honest. Helping to set up the role for whoever comes next was important for us long term and threads like this one show that there's still plenty to do in that direction.

In the first instance, any of the information that we're talking about here is discussed openly at BAFC Board meetings. That's not to say that every individual item has been discussed – I can't remember. But conversations around revenue generation, debt levels, plans for the future etc. all form the basis of a board meeting, as you might expect. The Trust's representative (me at the moment) attends these Board meetings and I like to think I contribute as an equal around the table. Perhaps it's best to ask one of the others about that though!

What I think we're straying into here is a difficult balance and distinction between "the fans", "the Trust" and "the Trust representative". These are three tiers of the same entity in a way. The global fan community raised the £50k needed to take on this stake, and as such they naturally have a right to assurance that the Club is in good health. What I like to think we've also bought for this money is some ownership (small 'o') and influence. We do now have somebody on the Board and those meetings are very open and welcoming of ideas. Anybody who wants me to raise a suggestion or issue has only got to grab me at a game or give me a call and it will be done.

Having said that (and this is where we get into opinion and the way that I'm currently working), there are two main obstacles in the way of "telling everything to everyone" as I see it. The first is sensitivity of information. Some of the points have already been raised above. Competitive advantage is one concern. Posting on a public forum about our wage bill for example wouldn't help us much next summer when it comes to dealing with agents. Nor should we be discussing deals with suppliers for similar reasons. But that's not to say this information is 'secret'. Paul Hornby and the Board are more than happy for people to know what running this club takes financially. It's important that we all understand the challenge of it. There's just a question around the level to which that can play out in the public domain. And the second issue is one of simple practicality. If we agree that it's not sensible to post our balance sheet on this forum, how to you disseminate it to every fan? Who is a 'fan'? That distinction has always been messy, hence why we've used the Trust as our vehicle and as our membership list. We made it as easy as possible for contributors to the £50k to become Trust members precisely so that this system would work. I believe that it does for the most part.

Those who attend a Trust meeting or read the minutes will know that I give a Director's Report as part of the agenda. I try to pick out the key successes / failures / risks that are currently on the club's radar and give a sense of what's going on. I then take any questions and, where I don't know an answer, I come back later. There's a degree of delegated authority for me to handle the 'day to day', but where an issue needs to be brought to the Trust Board for a vote, I do that as part of my report.

Whether you feel the Trust is kept informed really depends on which lens you choose to look through. Back to personal opinion. I'm comfortable that I as our Director have knowledge of everything that's happening at the club – or that I have access to the knowledge at least. I won't claim to be an expert on every striker's goal bonus or the intimacies of what Gareth does to the pitch. I know what I need to know. But I could find out that detail if I wanted to. Similarly the Trust, through me, could ask me to find it out. Does that mean that every fan knows every detail? No, of course not. But hopefully I'm painting a picture here of joining the Trust, attending a meeting, raising your queries or suggestions. Or just emailing me. Again, I'm open to that.

Finally (as I battle futilely to stay under 1000 words), I've seen some discussion here around a future Trust contribution to maintain our 10% stake. It was stated at the time of purchase that this would be on the agenda eventually. The other owners always intended to reinvest in the short term to improve our facilities. It's only right that we either keep up with that spending or see our shareholding diminish. But there are a number of points to make on this subject. Firstly and most importantly, the Trust haven't been asked for any money to date so this is all hypothetical. But I regularly get emails from Paul Hornby showing the various spends of Directors, ensuring that it stays broadly in line, and as such I know roughly the kind of figures that we're talking about. Keep in mind that we've already done a sizeable amount of this work. The 1901 Club brought £17k into the Trust's column and it's likely that another selling window will occur (we're realigning the 1901 Club to the end of the season from now on) before any 'contribution' needs to be finalised. Even if the second season's 1901 Club sells half as well as the first, that's £17k + £8.5k which takes us to £25.5k. Not a bad start.

This again is something we discuss at Trust meetings. I just don't really have any fixed or final 'news' to offer on the subject as yet. We know where we are, we know the choice that will eventually face us, and we will all have our own view on the best way to proceed. My own opinion, for what it's worth, is that we shouldn't have taken on a stake if we had no intention or interest in trying to continue to contribute to the club's survival and success. But what's obviously key is establishing a level for that contribution which is sustainable, realistic and proportionate to the other owners. Something else for my list of "things to define". I remember when I used to enjoy football… :)



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Jonty
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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Jonty » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:52 pm

Levi, with all due respect, A lot of words, but none them answers the question. P Hornby raised the point about paying off “inherited debts” in the RC interview. I am asking a simple question- what is the amount of those debts?
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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by barrowfan » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:28 pm

Jonty wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:52 pm
Levi, with all due respect, A lot of words, but none them answers the question. P Hornby raised the point about paying off “inherited debts” in the RC interview. I am asking a simple question- what is the amount of those debts?
The figure floating around at the time was £100,000, so perhaps the record needs putting straight with an accurate figure, unless there is a sound business reason for not doing so.

Have said that it was also said that the Cassons wrote off circa £3M, so we could be worse off! :)

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Levi » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:45 pm

Jonty wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:52 pm
Levi, with all due respect, A lot of words, but none them answers the question. P Hornby raised the point about paying off “inherited debts” in the RC interview. I am asking a simple question- what is the amount of those debts?
To be fair a lot of the words were devoted to other people's questions and points.

I personally think the appropriate forum for questions like this one is an AGM. At the next Board meeting, which is a week on Friday, we'll set a date for an AGM in the near future and use that meeting to provide the kind of full disclosure that people are looking for, as well as giving everybody the opportunity to ask questions. I'm happy to start a new thread advertising the meeting one we have a date and use that thread as a vehicle for collating the questions.

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Jonty » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:04 pm

Thanks for responding. Appreciate it and not intending to put you on the spot, I feel as fans we need to know what the challenges are and start understanding how the Trust can continue to support. I shall look out for the meeting advert.
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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by blue nige » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:15 am

barrowfan wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:28 pm
Jonty wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:52 pm
Levi, with all due respect, A lot of words, but none them answers the question. P Hornby raised the point about paying off “inherited debts” in the RC interview. I am asking a simple question- what is the amount of those debts?
The figure floating around at the time was £100,000, so perhaps the record needs putting straight with an accurate figure, unless there is a sound business reason for not doing so.

Have said that it was also said that the Cassons wrote off circa £3M, so we could be worse off! :)
really £3m. I don`t think so .

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Hadrian » Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:20 pm

What makes you think that?

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Steelworks End » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:33 pm

New boilers don't come cheap! :)

The floodlights would have cost a fair amount.

£3m doesn't go far at a football club these days.

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by blue nige » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:24 pm

Steelworks End wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:33 pm
New boilers don't come cheap! :)

The floodlights would have cost a fair amount.

£3m doesn't go far at a football club these days.
Read what he's saying that "they wrote off £3m of debt " infering that that's what the previous owners left not what they spent themselves!

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Lancaster Branch » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:03 pm

Levi wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:45 pm
I personally think the appropriate forum for questions like this one is an AGM.
Will contributors to the Trust’s share fundraiser be allowed to attend or will the Trust send someone on our behalf (as well as yourself)?

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Hadrian » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:13 pm

blue nige wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:24 pm
Read what he's saying that "they wrote off £3m of debt " infering that that's what the previous owners left not what they spent themselves!
Surely "they wrote off £3m of debt" means that the former owners wrote off the £3m that they had put into the company as loans for improvement, working capital, etc. and which the company effectively "owed" them?

Did they then sell the company to the new owners for the same amount that they paid the members' club for it? (c£600000?) Did I read that that sum would then be left to be the working capital to cover the remainder of last season? Subsequently, was it realised that there were various sums owed to creditors that had been "overlooked" at the time of the latest takeover?

I don't know the answers to those questions (hence the question marks!).

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Levi » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:53 pm

Lancaster Branch wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:03 pm
Levi wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:45 pm
I personally think the appropriate forum for questions like this one is an AGM.
Will contributors to the Trust’s share fundraiser be allowed to attend or will the Trust send someone on our behalf (as well as yourself)?
Open forum I believe, but to be confirmed at the Board meeting.

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by PerthBluebird » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:52 pm

mickmike wilson wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:15 pm
It's a tricky one for the BOD (RE) Giving out information, It's one of them where they will be damned if they do & damned if they don't.

If they tell us the Profit margin on drinks & pies or whatever You'll get those who will slate the club for making a profit......Even though we all want them to be successful, You know what the forum/people can be like.

In general I agree with the club giving us as much info as possible as im a huge believer in them treating us like adults & seeing if there's any area's our fan base can assist them with etc, However All companies have trading secrets that you keep in house its logical & it might give them an advantage in whatever businesses they are in.

If they bared their souls & detailed the full costs of running a club in the national leagues it would give us all more insight into just how difficult it really is to be competitive & might bring in more offers of help, Volunteers wise, more sponsorship to meet these 'Costs of doing business" etc.

Or would it be counter productive to tell us these things like

Training facilities, costs involved or deals done, Cost of overnight stops, coaches/bus costs, Players Insurance, Pay-offs etc CAN OF WORMS..
Well lets be fair its your mate pappa cass that has done this so you should be able to tell us the details.
Be seeing you

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by Lancaster Branch » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:57 pm

Levi wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:53 pm
Lancaster Branch wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:03 pm


Will contributors to the Trust’s share fundraiser be allowed to attend or will the Trust send someone on our behalf (as well as yourself)?
Open forum I believe, but to be confirmed at the Board meeting.
Ok, thanks 👍

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Re: P Hornby's Friday BBB RC Interview

Post by barrowfan » Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:23 pm

PerthBluebird wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:52 pm
mickmike wilson wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:15 pm
It's a tricky one for the BOD (RE) Giving out information, It's one of them where they will be damned if they do & damned if they don't.

If they tell us the Profit margin on drinks & pies or whatever You'll get those who will slate the club for making a profit......Even though we all want them to be successful, You know what the forum/people can be like.

In general I agree with the club giving us as much info as possible as im a huge believer in them treating us like adults & seeing if there's any area's our fan base can assist them with etc, However All companies have trading secrets that you keep in house its logical & it might give them an advantage in whatever businesses they are in.

If they bared their souls & detailed the full costs of running a club in the national leagues it would give us all more insight into just how difficult it really is to be competitive & might bring in more offers of help, Volunteers wise, more sponsorship to meet these 'Costs of doing business" etc.

Or would it be counter productive to tell us these things like

Training facilities, costs involved or deals done, Cost of overnight stops, coaches/bus costs, Players Insurance, Pay-offs etc CAN OF WORMS..
Well lets be fair its your mate pappa cass that has done this so you should be able to tell us the details.
Not sure what you mean about ‘Papa Cass’. Love him or hate him and no matter what the exact figure he wrote off a shedload of money for Barrow AFC. Without a professional setup we would be back in Conference North.

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