WST Newsletter: Spring 2013

The past three months have been interesting both on and off the field. While progress has been made on the field and we are in a very good position to at least make the play offs, progress is also being made off the field in terms of improving the commercial income stream and, hopefully, a start to the completion of the south west corner in the very near future, assuming that spring does eventually arrive. The board has had two more meetings with Scott Duxbury and his team who have been very open with us but, understandably, we have been asked to keep several of the topics confidential for commercial or legal reasons.

The board has had two more meetings with Scott Duxbury and his team who have been very open with us

At last we have the findings and action from the Football League charges. We were given a full briefing about the hearing and although we had offered to give evidence on behalf of the club about our various meetings and contacts with non-executive members of the board at that time, ultimately not required. We are pleased that the non-executive directors who were also on the board during the period of Mr Bassini’s ownership were shown to be innocent of any collusion in the improper financial activities. We hope that this draws a line under Mr Bassini’s involvement with the club although we suspect that there will still be issues surrounding the Red Lion. The Board is very disappointed in the letter from the Luton Supporters’ Trust, the purpose of which is unclear. We know that they have written similar letters about Bournemouth and Portsmouth. It will not change their position and there are, of course, differences in the various cases. It is unfortunate that they appear to be intent on raking over old ground or focussing on the perceived injustice of their own position, rather than considering the good of football as a whole when we need everybody behind the pressure on the FA, Premier League and Football League to properly improve governance and to prevent clubs being damaged by the increasing number of incidents of financial sharp practice and other examples of exploitation and bad governance.

During our meetings with the management team we opened discussions on designating the ground as a community asset. While discussions are at a very early stage, we believe that it will not cause any problems for the current owners who we believe intend to be there for the long-term and who have the best interests of the club at heart. However, should the position over the ownership of the club change in the future such a designation would mean that the ground could not be sold without it being offered to the community first. This would provide protection from an unscrupulous owner who wished to realise the value of the ground. While such a scenario may seem remote at present, and we believe the owners have the best interests of the club at heart we need to be aware that the football authorities may want to try to prevent multiple club ownership and the present owners could, in a worst case, be forced to sell the club (we are pleased that the owners are confident this will not happen). In addition, the football authorities show little inclination to improve the governance of football clubs and action by the Trust now may well prevent problems in the future. In no way do we want to be alarmist but it is prudent to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Supporters Direct are continuing with their lobbying of the government to improve the governance of football. A representative of the Trust attended a very busy meeting at the House of Commons in February. This was seeking to turn up the heat on government with the support of many MPs and Lords, including the select committee who feel that government have backed down on forcing the FA and the Leagues to make the changes that would put football governance on a much more secure footing.

In our meetings with the club we have met with the new commercial manager who is bringing a new and more ambitious approach to commercial partnerships within the club and were recently involved in discussions with the management team on season ticket prices and how ticket prices are determined. This has shown a very progressive approach and recognition that filling the ground is important both for atmosphere and revenue in the long-term.

In the meantime let us hope for a really good end to the season and hopefully promotion.