Meeting Minutes - Part 1

To read part 1 (of 3) of the minutes from Saturday's meeting, click here.


Fans' Vote Can Be Win/Win Scenario

At a meeting of the Dundee FC Supporters’ Society held at Dens Park on Saturday, it was revealed that club is operating within its budget and that the upcoming ballot of fans is not about whether to accept or reject investment.

Society chairman Scott Glenday told us “I thought the meeting went very well and was extremely positive.  My own personal view, which seemed to be shared by most present, is that there is scope for bringing in additional funds while retaining a majority shareholding on behalf of the fans.
“One does not have to be at expense of the other, there have already been ways identified of offering shares in return for investment AND allowing the club to remain in the hands of the people who matter most, the supporters.  It’s no more than they deserve.  If we could do that it really would be a win/win situation, today was a decent starting point and at the end of the day it's positive that supporters are in charge of their own destiny.”

Society director and club chairman Stuart Murphy stressed the need for the club to rebuild its reputation, and reassured fans of the club’s financial situation.  “We’re sticking to our budget this season.  It’s a conservative budget, eg lower than average crowds, going out of cups in the first round, we’re up to date with payments and we’ll be publishing key performance indicators regularly.”  Indeed, this Q&A is just one of a series the Society will hold throughout the season to make the club more transparent.

Stuart continued, "I hope everyone now understands a little better what we are asking them to vote on and how important this issue is.  It is entirely correct that it is happening this way as this is one decision that everyone needs to have input to.  Between now and the end of the voting period there is still time to debate, discuss and ask more questions as people see fit and it is my fervent hope that is what people do.  If anyone wants to discuss with myself, any other board member they should do so.  I have every confidence that the masses will find the right way."

Society secretary Fraser MacDonald presented the background to community ownership and stressed the need for all clubs, not just Dundee, to move away from an unsustainable business model, before clarifying how members should consider the proposal and vote.  “Firstly, this is not about accepting or rejecting investment.  We’re confident that we can attract significant external funding and at the same time the Society can retain over 50% ownership for the club’s supporters.

“Secondly, the club has a conservative budget which it is sticking to, and external funding is NOT required to balance the books.  Indeed, the club has to operate within its means from now and will continue to do so.

“This is about the overall ownership structure, NOT about whether to accept or reject investment.  The resolution put to members is that the club needs to be owned by its supporters.  In other words, the fans should retain over 50% of the shares and any external funding should be obtained within that structure.  If members agree with this, they should vote ‘Yes.’  However, if they are prepared for the Society to relinquish their majority ownership, they should vote ‘No.’”

The Society board is keen to stress there's no rush to vote, as the postal ballot is open from 15th to 31st August and ballot boxes will be at the next home game on the 27th.  Everyone has their own opinions, and some great points and questions were raised at Saturday's meeting, and the prevailing view seemed to be that majority ownership could and should be maintained alongside external funding.  Continued debate on internet forums, in the pubs and on the buses is exactly what is needed, and the club’s directors made clear on Saturday that they would abide by the wishes of the fans.

Transcripts of the presentations made along with the subsequent Q&A session will be online within the next couple of days.


Many Congratulations Pat Liney!

The Dundee FC Supporters' Society are delighted to say a huge "Congratulations" to Championship-winning goalkeeper Pat Liney as he becomes Honorary President of Dundee Football Club.  Pat, who has a long association with the Club, was presented with a memento to mark the occasion by Dundee FC Chairman and Society Board member Stuart Murphy at half time during Saturday's game.

We're sure you will agree that this is a thoroughly well-deserved honour for a fantastic goalkeeper and a great Ambassador for our Club.


Dundee Fans to Vote on Future of Club

Dundee fans last week launched their vision of a Community Football Club, following a recent period of consultation, but they will now be asked to vote on just how important community ownership is to them in the long term.

Following the recently announced injection of capital from the family of the late Bill Gordon, the fans’ collective stake in their club, through the Dundee FC Supporters’ Society, stands at 52.5%. Additional external funding could see that majority shareholding threatened, depending on the amount of money tabled and the price shares are offered at, so the Society’s members will be given the chance to exercise their right as owners of their club to determine their own destiny.

Whilst additional funding would of course be welcome, the Society is legally and morally answerable to its members and the decision whether to potentially dilute its shareholding must be made by the fans. A letter posted to members this week will apprise them of the facts ahead of a members’ meeting at Dens Park before the first home league game of the season this Saturday 13th August and a subsequent postal vote.

Fans will be asked to consider the recently published community manifesto, “A Vision of Dundee FC as a Community Football Club”, along with the principle of community ownership itself, and can pick up a copy of the document from the main office or shop at Dens Park, from volunteers at Saturday's game, or download it from the Society’s website. Society chairman Scott Glenday said implementing the manifesto pledges did not hinge on retaining a majority shareholding and fans should vote in whatever way they felt was best for the club.

“We have said repeatedly that financial sustainability is the most important consideration to how Dundee FC will be run in future, and we will spend only what we can generate ourselves. We have also said that it is not in the best interests of Dundee FC to be dependent on a single benefactor and that remains the case. What we are asking fans to decide on is the circumstances in which we can accept external funding in order to realise our ambitions on and off the park.

“As it was the supporters who saved the club they deserve nothing less than transparency and the chance to decide on the future direction and make up of their club. Obviously, in order to grow and prosper as a club, continued external funding would be of great benefit but it is for the fans to decide on how we will go forward. If potential investors want to purchase shares, the Society shareholding could drop below 50%. Whether this is the correct way to proceed is a decision the supporters must make collectively and it is therefore imperative we seek their views.

“Since a 26% shareholding was not enough to prevent a second period of administration, some will not favour any scenario where the fans no longer own a majority of the issued shares. Others may believe that, with a new community-led board of directors who have learned the lessons of the past, being a significant shareholder is sufficient. Given the choice, the Society would prefer to maintain a majority shareholding whilst attracting additional funding, and one way to do this would be to price the unissued shares at a level which would allow the fans to retain control. This is not an unreasonable suggestion as the club is worth a lot more than it was a few months ago.

“This exercise will allow fans to express their views, help make a decision on ownership and influence other such related matters. Regardless of how people vote, we remain committed to delivering the principles outlined in our manifesto, in particular strengthening the links between the football club and the wider community for the benefit of both. We asked fans what being a community club meant to them, and this is what they told us. The Society, the Club and other groups such as the Dark Blue Business Trust are working harder and more closely than ever for the benefit of the club. We are a community club now and that will not change but in order to maximise the potential and realise our dreams we really need more willing volunteers to come forward to help turn that into a reality.”

“High on our list of values at the Supporters’ Society are transparency, accountability and democracy. It’s early days as owners of the club and we’re working at identifying practical ways of delivering on all three fronts. We’re also keen to ensure the Club fully embraces as many of the people who keep it alive as possible. Fundamental to future success will also be developing a strategy of moving together as one. This is no longer about exclusivity; the doors and communication lines are well and truly open and we’re keen to ensure Dundee Football Club is about inclusiveness not exclusivity.

"This is ultimately about choices and personal opinion; thankfully we’ve still got a football club to support and a decision to make. That has been down to the sacrifice, commitment and generosity of many of the people we are now asking the question of and I think that makes perfect sense. I’d like to thank them for their continued support and encourage as many of them as possible to come along to the meeting to initiate debate on the next step of this journey. The final decision on the best way forward will be a collective one and it is up to each and every one of the loyal and passionate Dundee support to act as they see fit."

The meeting, to be held at 10am on Saturday 13th August in the Penman Lounge at Dens Park, will see the Society board make a presentation about its aims as a community club, answer fans’ questions, and to help the members to determine whether they wish to keep the club in community ownership. To ensure that all members have the chance to vote and to discuss the issues in detail, voting will NOT take place at the meeting but by a subsequent postal ballot. Fans can vote by completing the form posted out to them, and returning it by post or at the following home game two weeks later.

“The Society board would encourage those who can attend the meeting to come along and hear the discussion in full, but for those who can’t, we would encourage you to read and debate the issues via the internet and local press before returning your form,” continued Scott.

“This is your Society and your Club, ownership of the football club is yours to lose. Do not hesitate to contact any of us directly at any time to discuss these issues or give feedback. By sticking together we’ve not only saved the club but we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to take the club forward and face the challenges the future will bring with confidence.”


Note of Thanks...

I turned up at Dens this morning at 10.30 to prepare for a Society Board meeting.  Players were putting in a shift under the watchful eye of Barry, Jim Thomson was briefing stewards in preparation for the coming season, and Lorraine and Alison were busy in the laundry and lounges.  Kenny Valentine was with the lads from Millars ready for the arrival of volunteers assisting with ground maintenance.  A total of fourteen volunteers turned up at various times today, I understand seven had travelled from outside the city – to each and every one of you involved in any of those activities I send you my sincere thanks.

Scott Glenday, Chairman, Dundee FC Supporters' Society.


Volunteer Day - Sunday 7th August

With the first home league match  only a couple of weeks away its an ideal time to arrange our third "Volunteers Maintenance Day." This will help ensure that internal and external areas of Dens Park are in excellent shape for the first home SFL match of season 2011/12.

The last event was a great success with volunteers and board members working shoulder to shoulder, bringing benefits to "our Club" whilst enjoying a good bit of banter too.

The event will be on Sunday 7th August from 10.30am to 2.30pm.

Jim Thomson will again be kindly arranging for the Penman Lounge to be opened, so the hard workers can enjoy a pint or two accompanied by a free buffet.

Examples of tasks to be undertaken:
Wiping down seats in all areas of the ground.
Weeding of areas around flood-light pylons.
Removal of all debris in disused terracing area to west of South Enclosure.
Clearance of debris on now disused steps at west end of South Enclosure.
Removal of vegetation adjacent to steps and walkways in South Enclosure.
Final painting touch ups in all areas of the ground.
Plus many more........

As you'll see from the above "there is something for everyone!"

The day will start at 10.30am and end at 2.30pm.
All volunteers should report to the main concourse of the Bobby Cox Stand.
Due to H&S reasons all volunteers must be 16 years or older.
If you have them please bring any of the following to help with the work: Cloths, bucket, Petrol Strimmer, Refuse sacks, hoe, rake, masonry paint brush/roller.
(The Club have a number of these items but clearly it helps if we can bring our own)
Tea and Coffee will be provided.
A free buffet (for volunteers) and pay bar in the Penman will be available.

To confirm your attendance, please email volunteer coordinator Kenny Valentine. If you are attending and are bringing fellow Dees please confirm numbers.

We very much look forward to seeing as many as you as possible and am confident that we can deliver similar results as at our last two events.


Dundee FC Attracts Additional Funding

The Dundee FC Supporters’ Society is today delighted to confirm significant external funding in Dundee Football Club.  The family of the late Mr Bill Gordon has injected £180,000 in Dundee FC in memory of their father, who was a lifelong supporter of the Club. The late Mr Gordon attended many matches at Dens Park after the war and for many years followed the great Dundee team of the 1940's and 1950's.  Pam Colvin, Mr Gordon's daughter, said: "My dad died just days before the club went into Administration last year.  I know he would have wanted to help the club he loved if he had still been alive and we were delighted to able to help the Club in some way to honour his memory." 

Society secretary Fraser MacDonald explained "We've been working hard for months to ensure we could not only fund a CVA but fund the ongoing running of the club. Attracting external funding as well as the money raised by our members and by the Dark Blue Business Trust was always a priority, we're delighted to finally have everything in place, to make this news public and we’d like to thank each and every person who made this possible’’.

Following a payment of £150,000 earlier this year to fund the CVA and allow the club to exit administration, the Supporters' Society has now injected an additional £70,000 towards the club's working capital, and the Dark Blue Business Trust has contributed a further £50,000. Shares have now been transferred, giving a controlling 52.5% stake to the Supporters' Society, while the Colvin family acquires 21.8% and the Dark Blue Business Trust holds 6.1% of the club's share capital.
Fraser was keen to stress, however, that this did not signal any change to the playing staff budget. "These funds have already been included in the budget for this season so will not at this stage have any impact on the budget for the playing staff. In fact, their impact is actually what allowed Barry Smith to retain the bulk of last year's squad and add to it.
"We appreciate that fans have been anxious to know how things stand, and we had hoped to announce this news some time ago.  Unfortunately, and frustratingly, the process has taken much longer than any of us had anticipated.  We acknowledge that our communication with our members can and will improve and I’d like to thank them for their patience. We remain fully committed to being transparent and accountable.  We’re sure our members will understand that on this occasion the need to act professionally throughout the process meant we could not communicate any details until the necessary paperwork and transfers had been completed.  We are delighted to be in a position to finally confirm the funding from the Colvin family as well as the additional injections of funds from the Supporters' Society and the Business Trust."
"We are now a Community Club – this means that it’s YOUR club, it doesn’t belong to a committee, it belongs to thousands of Dundee fans.  Every Dundee fan has the right and the opportunity to be involved, every Dundee fan is as much the owner of this Club as anyone else.  We will be publishing our Community Strategy next week, and this will be followed by a presentation and Q&A session with members on Saturday 13th August."

Compulsory Viewing - Channel 4, 8pm tonight

Channel 4's Dispatches programme goes undercover, posing as investors trying to buy an English Football League club. Preview reports describe the programme as "jaw dropping," "compuslory viewing" and "a sorry mess in football."

Football League chairman Greg Clarke when asked if he is confident he knows who the owners of every club are replied "No I'm not. There's a process of validation that lets the Football League know who the owners are. Who the owners of the owners are gets more difficult. And who the owners of the owners of the owners are gets even more difficult."

The programme is now available to watch online here.


Society Delegation to Attend SD Conference

The Supporters Direct Fans' Weekend, including the Annual UK Conference and SD Cup, takes place this weekend in Chester.  The Conference will be held at The Queen Hotel on Friday, and the Exacta Stadium, home of Chester F.C, on Saturday.

The Dundee FC Supporters Society will be represented at the event by Directors Fraser MacDonald, John Keith and Bill Brewster.

As with the Scottish conference, the UK conference will open with an open presentation and debate.  The UK Conference plenary focuses on Finance and Business Advantages of Community Ownership.  This is followed by several breakout sessions (Inspiring & Enabling Supporter Ownership, Policy & Regulation, Training for Supporters Trusts, Europe and Supporter & Community Owned Clubs).  The conference then closes with a "Seizing the Opportunity" session.

On Saturday, a Marquee will be set up at Chester FC for presentations by David Conn (The Guardian), Andy Walsh (General Manager of FC United of Manchester), Chris Pilsbury (Chairman of Chester FC) and more.  Chester FC will then play FC United of Manchester (both Supporter-owned clubs) for the Supporters Direct Cup.


Supporters Direct Funding Update

As you may know, Supporters Direct (including SD in Scotland) has an uncertain future due to a lack of funding, since they were informed by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, administrators of the Premier League Fans' Fund, that it was withdrawing its funding.

Supporters Direct in Scotland asked for members to lobby their MSPs to gain their support for funding the organisation north of the border - a motion was then raised with the Scottish Parliament.  By way of an update on where they are with the funding problems, Elaine Millar of SD Scotland has today released the following statement...

"We would like to thank all of you who have contacted their MSPs to ask them to support the motion on Supporters Direct Scotland.  There has been cross-party support for the motion but it's not too late to ask your MSP to support it and while you're asking remember to tell them about the achievements of your trust.  The last election saw many new MSPs elected and this is a great opportunity to make them aware of your valuable role and your ambitions.

Last week we had a positive meeting with representatives of the Scottish Government and we have been asked to put forward proposals by the end of July which would allow the organisation to continue to engage with supporters, develop supporters' trusts and seek other funding opportunities.

Short-term funding has been secured from another source which will allow the organisation time to prepare the business case and go through the process of negotiating the terms and conditions of any offer. As you will understand this is a substantial piece of work to complete so it may be that replies to other enquiries take a little longer than usual.

Thank you again for all your support.  We will keep you informed of progress over the next few weeks."