Category Archives: Supporters Trust

Manchester County Court Verdict: Lincoln City Supporters Trust Elections Declared Invalid

Lincoln City Supporters’ Society, according to a press release,  has lost a court case against former Lincoln City Football Club Associate Director Michael Foley who is also a Gold Member of the Supporters’ Trust. Mr. Foley has been awarded costs.

The press release is as follows.

LINCOLN CITY SUPPORTERS TRUST ELECTIONS DECLARED INVALID.

 

At a Hearing in Manchester County Court on Monday November 24, elections held by Lincoln City Supporters’ Society (the Trust) in June 2012 and May 2013 were declared invalid, void and of no effect. The elections concerned are those that took place for positions on the Society Board prior to the AGM in May 2013 and the election of a nominated Gold Supporter Director to the Board of Lincoln City Football Club in June 2012. At the Hearing, His Honour Judge Stephen Davies found that candidates for election to the Trust Board in 2013 had been wrongly disqualified from standing and in both cases that the true and correct version of Rule 54(a) had not been applied. The claim had been brought by former Lincoln City Football Club Associate Director Michael Foley who is also a Gold Member of the Supporters’ Trust. Mr. Foley has been awarded costs.

No further statement will be issued at this time.

 

R.I.P – Is The Imps Trust Dead?

As Lincoln City face a massive test against Macclesfield Town long suffering Lincoln fans may  also have to say goodbye to its supporters Trusts, the custodian of largest shareholding of ordinary voting shares within in the club.

Concerns grow for the Lincoln City Supporters Trust and the future of its 1 million shares currently held in the holding company that controls Lincoln City Football Club. Concerns should grow after a statement appeared on the trust site on 22nd September 2014 see below word for word).  Clearly STMI – still banned from attending games – cannot comment on the apparent on-going litigation, but, surely this is not the end is it? Can the Trust old guard, who also served on the Supporters Direct Board, not come and save it?

Father of The Imps Rob Bradley had been attempting to reignite the Imps Trust,  with a working party, although his recent comments on BBC Radio Lincolnshire were less than promising. What a shame that an institution once seen as the model for Supporters Trusts throughout British football has become mired in controversy for the last two to three years. There have been controversies over that great share give-away without a membership vote, the elections, accounts, and a former board member. These have been the talk of the forums, the Radio and, on (very rare)occasion even the local press.

The Lincoln City Supporters Trust was a beacon of the Supporters Direct movement.  If it has come to what the statement below infers it could open a huge can of worms for numerous parties connected with the Trust and its dealings.  Fans must band together quickly, the shares bequeathed by the late John Reames were intended for the fans and the wider community ethos as a whole.

Please draw you own conclusions from the following fellow Imps and remember that the time to act is now.

From http://www.impstrust.uk/trust-board/

 

The constitution/rules of the Lincoln City Supporters Society Ltd includes provision for 9 elected Directors and up to 6 co-opted board members. Excepting for Anthony Smith, on 06 June 2014 all the existing board plus secretary Geoff Forbes resigned with immediate effect. A Working Party comprising past board members including some involved with the foundation of the Society was set up to assist/guide its reconstitution. As at the present date there is no progress regarding this matter.

Because the Society Board has fewer than 9 members it is currently unable to defend itself against ongoing litigation regarding Rule 54(a) {eligibility to stand for the board) and aspects of the elections held at the 2012/13 AGM.

Imps Trust Faces Breach of Contract Claim From Michael Foley

Lincoln City Supporters Trust is the subject of a legal action from Gold Member Michael Foley, forced to issue a claim for breach of contract following the non-delivery of shares in Lincoln City Football Club.

The statement from O’Neill Patient Solicitors LLP is as follows.

FOLEY ISSUES BREACH OF CONTRACT CLAIM AGAINST LINCOLN CITY SUPPORTERS TRUST

Mr. Michael Foley will today issue a claim for breach of contract against Lincoln City Supporters Society Limited (the Trust). The claim concerns the non-delivery of shares in Lincoln City Football Club (the Club) to which Mr. Foley is entitled as a fully paid-up Gold Member of the Trust.

Solicitors acting for Mr. Foley, a former Associate Director of the Club, have also referred the matter to Lincolnshire police as part of their ongoing investigation into the financial affairs of the Trust.

No further statement will be issued at this time.

Date 6 January 2014

ENDS

Budget: Is It Time For Trust To Be Critical Friend?

Alfreton Town, Welling United, Tamworth, Woking, Southport FC, Nuneaton Town, Tamworth, Braintree, Dartford FC and Hyde FC are all considered part time.  Yet with three training sessions a week they could be labelled as what Lincoln manager Gary Simpson has recently described as part-time in disguise.

Perhaps this is why Lincoln struggles to beat sides who have superior budgets and look to raise their game in order to gain the scalp of a big team. The real issue and reality check for Lincoln fans, is that the club is anything but a big team when it comes to the playing budget. The forecast budget is still less than that enjoyed by David Holdsworth last season, this, despite better than expected season ticket sales, higher admission prices due to the closing of the home end and better average crowds than last season. 

After an interminable half decade of misery and decline, the team finds itself mid-table yet we are failing to play the dream football that fans wish to see.  At £18 for an adult they do have a point, but the economic reality and real issue is the competition from the 23 other Conference clubs that the Imps are struggling to match. They show ambition, they inspire, while a club with the potential of Lincoln, does anything but shrouded behind  non disclosure agreements that frustrate fans and keep them in the dark.  Who would like answers on the Stadium, the recent supporter director elections etc etc etc? What about a fans forum and not one that shortens a Trust or club AGM?

But back to money, the route of all evil it would appear. Lincoln and Macclesfield have the lowest full-time budgets in the Skrill Premier League, dwarfed by Luton, Forest Green, Grimsby, Wrexham, Cambridge, Kidderminster and Gateshead.  But these disguised part-time sides are also outspending the club thanks to rich benefactors and commercial deals that allow them to punch above their financial weight.  While geographically challenged Lincoln cannot afford more than 5 overnight stays, Salisbury identified and funded the 15 they face before a ball was kicked in earnest.

When we look at the performance on the pitch of Alfreton, Salisbury and Welling, they are doing so because they have the ability to fund better loans and can pay wages in excess of ours.  Lincoln have an average of £350 per week, but many of our part-time competitors can easily offer far more – sometimes double – our highest earners. Surely everyone realises consistency costs and that you get what you can ultimately pay for on the creative and goals front, which is the lifeblood of the sport.

Alfreton, Welling, Woking and Tamworth all have bigger playing budgets than Lincoln despite our gates.  Southport and even Nuneaton are certainly on a par with the Imps, but able to pay money and get loans that are out of our reach. Only Hyde, Braintree, Dartford and Macclesfield have an inferior budget to Lincoln, but their geography is less challenging when it comes to attracting talent.

We cannot really do anything about it any more either, the dye is cast.  The Trust historically appear in fans eyes to be anything but a critical friend, despite the two long-term gold member and supporter director reigns on the board of the club. The 1 million shares have gone to the Holding Company and even the current supporter Director is now a business partner of one of the board members on the Holding company, suggesting a cosy closed shot relationship remains. All we can do is keep faith it appears and be thankful the club is still in business even if it had to give away the fans crown jewels to sustain itself without any long-term guarantees.  Not that we had a vote on it of course  – this at of all clubs, the one Supporters direct once saw as the model community club.

Please note we have omitted the actual figures for each club for legal reasons, alas, as our regular readers are aware, STMI does not have the legal backing to publish the full truth as bigger publications would.

Gagging Law Will Change Football More Than Whistleblowers

The cases of Edward Snowden, the Guardian laptop incident and the NHS Whistle-blower scandal has beggared questions of the rights, wrongs and indeed the morality of secrecy agreements.   Such widespread use of non-disclosure agreements within Football, industry, commerce and the NHS have caused sufficient controversy of late, leading to legislation, that could do more damage to the game  than a poor referee.

Thank-you for reading by Neil Gentleman-Hobbs

 

MP’s begin to debate the issue on Tuesday. The legislation is not good news at present for it is asking them to back government plans to silence community groups, charities and campaigners. 38 Degrees, the incredibly successful on-line lobby group who started out with the Forest issue, is taking a stance on part 2 of the legislation HERE. The remit is however much wider, but should this go through ‘in a rush’ it will make things even harder for fans at what are quaintly referred to as community clubs.

Nowhere has this been more frustrating than at Lincoln City Supporters Trust an organisation that was once seen as a beacon within Supporters Direct.  Yet now it has become shrouded in secrecy, with Trust the last thing on anyone’s minds. The ‘critical friend tag has worn thin, particularly since it failed to give members a vote on a share transfer, an issue over a previous Secretary’s handling of the accounts (he was imprisoned for taking funds from a charity) and then failed to back four fans banned for political reasons – I am one of them…and… incredibly I can say no more due to, you’ve guessed it, secrecy rules.

Several ex-board members are effectively gagged by confidentiality agreements that come with office, yet, fans are none the wiser as to why 1 million shares were gifted to a holding company without a vote. Questions over election process and other issues including The Trust’s independence from the other two boards, will also remain unanswered until the law changes, hopefully, for the better.

Changes to the Law either way will be good news or bad for us, but it could have huge ramifications for football, an industry that uses NDA’s more than we realise. Most see  it as just part of the pay-off process when managers and players leave. No one wants to know exactly what is going on at our clubs, mystery is part of the magic, yet when discussions are taking place with regard to ownership of what is supposed to be a community club, is it right or wrong to keep fans in the dark. They after all are the only lifelong stakeholders in the club and therefore it falls well within the realms of public interest.

Another Trust Resignation – Fans Must Force EGM

Lifelong Lincoln City fan Jonathan Battersby has joined the growing exodus from the Lincoln City Supporters Trust Board.  Surely now the fans will band together to force an EGM?

Jonathan unsuccessfully stood for the Supporter Director position in the summer, in an election mired in controversy for some, but was defeated by Neil Ferguson. For those who do not know Mr Ferguson he runs TSM along with Lincoln City Vice Chairman David Parman.  There are rumours that two further board members have been appointed onto the Trust board. There has been no official confirmation of this by the Supporters Trust, but then the members and the fans are always the last to know.  So much for critical friend.

If Lincoln City fans care anything about Community ownership and the million shares gifted to the fans by John Reames they must act now.  Get 10% of the membership or 50 members, get Supporters Direct to advise you and storm the Bastille before it is too late.

ImpsTrust Update: Another Leaves the ‘Critical Friend’

The short lived tenure of the latest secretary of the Lincoln City Supporters Society has ended following a further resignation this week. The board room is now four lighter after a hectic month at a supporters society that many feel has sold the fans short and thus alienated itself from Lincoln City fans.

 

 

Secretary John Wilson has years of experience in administrative matters and will be sorely missed.   As one would expect from an organisation shrouded in secrecy the omission of his name on the website is the closest thing one gets to an official confirmation.  The exodus continues, in an organisation that gave the membership’s 1 million shares away and killed the community ethos at the heart of our club without even consulting the full membership on the most important issue in its existence.

 

Listening to a BBC Radio Lincolnshire interview yesterday evening, it would appear others know more about the Trusts ability to fight an upcoming legal case than the membership due to the said secrecy rules.  Perhaps the Trusts travel side-kicks might run a coach trip to the hearing at Manchester Court when it is listed.  Not only would the fans get some clarity but a sell-out away trip would also raise some vital funds. STMI would love to comment further  but alas we don’t have the cash to fight our corner. Must be nice to have rich and powerful friends.

 

 

Michael Foley Statement

Via O’Neill Patient Solicitors LLP, Michael Foley has today issued a statement in relation to his legal action against Lincoln City Supporters’ Society Limited

Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs

 

O’Neill Patient Solicitors LLP can confirm that proceedings have been issued in the Manchester County Court on behalf of Mr. Michael Foley against Lincoln City Supporters’ Society Limited (The Trust) and that letters before action have also been served on both current and former Directors of Lincoln City Football Club (the Club). A complaint concerning the Club has also been lodged with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The claims cover a range of issues including irregularities in the management and operation of the Trust, a Banning Order served on Mr. Foley by the Club, and the establishment of Lincoln City Holdings Limited (the Holding Company). No further comment will be issued pending resolution of these issues.

Imps Trust Shambles Returns

Apologies for something non-football readers but The Lincoln City Supporters Trust is having another moment, indeed its penchant for own goals despite a brick-wall defence would be hilarious if it was at County etc etc, but it is not. Having announced a new Website and propaganda tool last week any positive PR (and intentions of openness) were soon swept away with the latest events from a Trust that was once respected throughout the game. We will not use the word supporters –  for the opinions of the fans meant little when it came to any consultation by Impstrust over the great share give-away (only a million of them so no need to concern the membership).

 

We have kept names out of this, particularly as we do not want the Council career and reputation the former Chair to be in anyway tarnished. To cut to the chase then.

Over the weekend the new Chairman resigned as did the new dedicated fundraiser – had either even warmed their seat –  with a third resigning in protest. It would appear the Chairman’s resignation  came about after he had been confronted with a list complaints about his good self read out in the style of a charge sheet.

One of those who resigned was also advised ‘to watch who you speak to’  prior to taking the decision to step down once he had got home.

Before STMI is accused of Trust bashing once again, this article relates to postings on two Lincoln forums and facts within the public domain.

The Trust has done nothing to support the Sincil Bank four who are banned from going to matches for political reasons and has refused to answer members questions by shrouding itself in secrecy.

We could go on but life is too short and fortunately the football club still continues in spite of an organisation that is most certainly not worthy of having ‘Lincoln City’ or ‘Supporters’ in its name.  Wise up! open up! and Do Your Job!

Imps Trust: Dinosaurs Or Just Lost Their Way?

Reading the latest idle chatter on the Lincoln City Supporters Trust Website and, in light of their recent track record of own goals, one has to wonder whether they have lost their way.  What is plain to see through the committee culture of smoke and mirrors, is that the Trust clearly do not know how to treat their members, or understand the importance of communicating with them.

 

Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.

 

What power does Lincoln City Supporters Trust (LCST) shares have now they have been transferred to Lincoln City Holding Co Ltd. In actual fact none. One million Trust shares have been transferred into Lincoln City Holding Co Ltd which gives them approximately 30% of the total shareholding. This will be reduced down to around 28% when Andy Lane invests £75k to join the board. Any additional investor will reduce the Trust’s % down even further.  Remember, as was pointed out at the recent meeting where the fans met the board: A voting majority of 60% is required by the Board of LCH for changes to be passed, that could automatically affect Lincoln City Football Club. This means that LCST have no control whatsoever in decision making within LCH.

 ***

Lincoln City Supporters Trust need to answer the following questions, and then let members decide if they have lost their way or not.

 ***

Did LCST realise they would have no control over decisions taken by LCH when they decided to transfer one million shares?

***

Did all LCST Board members receive a full presentation from the Club’s solicitors outlining the pros and cons of transferring one million shares to LCH?

***

Did all LCST Board members understand the consequences of the voting system with LCH?

***

Is the LCST Board prepared to give the full details to the members for the reasoning behind their decision to join LCH at the forthcoming EGM? The AGM in June was cut short with many questions remaining to be asked, including this one, due to a Fans Forum being given preference over the AGM. At least the Trust Board said they would continue on from the AGM and answer all questions at the yet to be advised date of the EGM.

 ***

Then of course we have the issue of what would happen if a major investor came in to buy-out LCH would LCST expect a large sum for their one million shares?

Answer: Any major investor would carry out a due diligence on the company and directors. They would want to know how many shares each director owns, how many were purchased by investing in LCFC, how many were purchased from shareholders and at what price, and how many were donated free of charge. Basically this means the shareholding in LCST has not only no control whatsoever in decision making in LCH, but their shares are virtually worthless. In other words they would have been better leaving them in LCFC, where together with the ‘ordinary’ shareholders they would at least have retained a majority of the shares issued by the Club, and their respect for doing so.

This leaves the major question for shareholders of LCFC and members of LCST to decide.

Were LCST Board members hoodwinked into believing the new set-up was good for the Club without having a full presentation, and how many of them actually understood, or as at today understand the implications of agreeing to transfer one million shares?