Before the start of the meeting Neil Chambers thanked Sharon Felton and everyone at DAA for allowing Darlaston Town (1874) FC to hold the Committee, Directors and Public Meetings at the venue free of charge.
Neil Chambers thanked everyone for attending the meeting especially Reg Kingston who had travelled from Manchester to attend. It was Reg's original call which had led to the initial public meeting being arranged.
This public meeting was being held to report back the progress made by the club since the original meeting in September2013. NC reported -
• Club has been set up as a Community Interest Company Limited by Guarantee. As a result it is a legal and constitution requirement that Directors are appointed as the decision makers. Everyone on the committee had been asked if they wished to take up a Directorship. 5 members had put their names forward viz Neil Chambers, Rose Burley, Keith Chambers, Paul Foster and Bob Jones. They are also on Committee and participate in committee meetings. However, the Committee only make recommendations at the monthly meeting and a subsequent Directors meeting decides whether to accept the recommendations. In addition to the 5 Directors above the committee consists of Garry Hale, Sharon Felton, Gil Preece, Dave Steventon, George Hancocks, Craig Wilkinson, Mark James, Anton Allen, Nicola Waite, Stan Jackson, Craig Davies. Whilst not committee members Dav Piras runs the Club website and twitter pages and Lynne Hale supports the facebook page. Everyone is a volunteer and gives their time freely. No one receives any payment for any work done.
• The Committee have held 8 committee meetings and 8 Directors meetings. Club has appointed a Chairman (Neil Chambers), Vice Chairman (Garry Hale), Treasurer (Bob Jones), Football Secretary (Gil Preece) Commercial Manager (Sharon Felton) and webmaster (Dav Piras)
• The club have held 8 fund raising events i.e. 2 x quizzes at Hawkins Sports & Social Club courtesy of Geoff Toy, 1 x Beer and Skittles evening, 1 x Valentine's disco, 1 x sponsored Half Marathon thanks to Adam Hancocks, 1 x 5 A Side Tournament at Pulse Soccer and Fitness in Wednesbury, 1 x game v Walsall FC legends, 1 x Sportsman's Evening at Darlaston Town Hall. Current planned events include WBA v Wolves All Stars on Sunday 3 August and a Beer and Skittles Evening on 6th June. Future proposed fund raisers include a Race Night, Jazz Night and Rod Stewart Tribute evening.
• The club applied for and was successful in making 2 x small grant applications for assistance in running costs of the Club.
• Set up a 100+ club. More members are still required at present. If insufficient members have been recruited within the next 2-3 months a decision will be made on continuation of the scheme. In the event of the scheme being discontinued all members who have joined will have their money returned in full.
• More than 200 letters and emails were sent out to local companies. As a result the club have obtained sponsorship/ advertising from GMB Union, Jhoots Pharmacy, Paycare (Bilston), Alca Fasteners Ltd (Darlaston) and Rubery Owen Holdings Ltd. However, the club is still looking for a main sponsor.
• The club has set up a website and have facebook and twitter pages. Coven Photography have become official photographers and have contributed a vast majority of the photos featured on the website and other social media.
• The club has set up a Business Current Account and a separate Development Account. Monthly financial reports are given by the Treasurer at committee meetings. The Development Account has been set up for use as match funding for future grant applications or for setting up junior teams. This account will not be used to meet running costs.
As a result of all of the above the committee have raised the funds needed to set up and run the club in season 2014/15. All of this means that the Club have met and exceeded what was set out in points 1-7 and points 13 and 14 of Year One of the 5 Year Development Plan.
To seek to achieve points 8-12 of the plan the club have -
• Held two meetings with the Council regarding options including the possibility in the future of a lease for the City Ground. As a result of these meetings the club have formally expressed an interest in discussing a City Ground lease should the option become available in the future. However, it became clear over time that progress in finding a permanent home or moving to the City Ground would not be finalised to allow for a Ground Grading Review to take place in time for the 2014/15 League timetable. In accordance with the West Midlands Regional League Rule Para 2.3.1 all clubs wishing to Ground Share must have a written lease in place covering the length of the next playing season and sent to the League by 31 March. Consequently, other options were already being considered. Meetings were held with interested parties for all the Ground options in Darlaston area i.e. Bentley Road North (old Rubery Owen Sports Ground), Grace Academy, DCA in Hall Street, Darlaston, Bentley Road South (old Garrington's Sports Ground}. The result of the meetings and subsequent considerations of the pros and cons for each option has been that the club have signed a Ground Sharing agreement with the Red Star Alma FC, the leaseholder at Bentley Road South, for the 2014/15 playing season. The club thanked Red Star Alma FC and in particular Paul Adshead for their help and support in agreeing the lease. The ground meets the ground grading requirements for West Midlands League Division 2.
• The council have issued the following statement - Executive Director of Regeneration at Walsall Council Simon Neilson said -
“The Council is pleased that Darlaston Town (1874) FC has secured temporary use of facilities at Bentley Road South to enable them to play next season and we will work with them over the next few months to try and help them secure more permanent facilities for the future.”
• In view of the Ground Share agreement the club has submitted an application and fee to the West Midlands Regional League for entry into Division 2 next season. An application does not mean admittance to the league. We will not know whether we have been admitted to the league until a vote by other member clubs at the West Midlands League AGM on 16 June 2014. However if accepted the club will have met its original goal of having a senior football team representing Darlaston in the2014-15 season.
• The club is now in the position to start planning for the 2014/15 season. With that in mind the club would be starting the search for a manager as of 17th April 2014. Details will be put out via the website, facebook and twitter pages, as well as approaching the press. Applicants will be asked to send their football CVs via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 6.00pm on Friday 9 May 2014, with Interviews being held in week commencing 19 May 2014.
• The Committee have agreed a new club badge and the home and away strips for 2014/15. The badge is a mix of the modern and traditional. The home kit sticks with the traditional Blue and White stripes whilst the away strip will be predominantly yellow with blue flashes. Alca Fasteners Ltd has been secured as the away kit sponsors. The club are still looking to agree sponsorship for the home kit and a Main Club Sponsorship.
Questions & Answer session
1. The Committee were asked for more information regarding the situations for DCA and City Ground as potential permanent ground options?
Neil Chambers explained the situation were as follows:
DCA - At a meeting with members of DCA management committee it was clear that their vision did not include adult football and use of the ground was a non starter.
City Ground: The meetings with the Council were very amicable. However there is a tenant and it is for the council to hold discussions with the current tenant. Should at any point in the future the Lease become available we would be interested because at the moment it was the only sustainable option. It is obvious it is going to take a lot of work and capital investment to ensure the ground reaches the required league standard, which will predominantly have to be raised by the club and grant applications.
2. It was suggested that DCA would be a better choice than City ground to meet with Club's commitment to the community and junior team involvement.
Neil Chambers agreed with the point and stated that DCA had not ruled out the club using the ground for junior teams. So it could be revisited as option for use by any Youth or Junior teams set up in the future.
3. Was there any reason envisaged for the WMRL turning down the club’s application?
Neil Chambers recapped that it was the decision of the clubs at the AGM whether the application was successful. It would depend on the number of applications, ground grading and despite the fact we are a “new” club it may be that some “bridges have to be built”. It is hoped that when the club goes in front of the League Committee in May 2014 to outline our application that they would be supportive. We have met the required deadline and paid over the initial fee and it is hoped that the recent positive publicity and the fact that the club can demonstrate excellent governance will persuade the Management Committee and clubs to support the application.
4. What was the timescales for forming a team in time for the new season?
Neil Chambers explained it is anticipated that the club will have appointed a manager by 26th May 2014. The new manager will be informed of the WMRL 16 June date and once the club knows which league it will be playing in next season, the successful applicant will be responsible for assembling a team in time for pre season training in July and the start of the season in the first week in August.
The Meeting closed with the Directors and Committee of Darlaston Town (1874) FC being congratulated from the floor for their achievement in setting up a club ready for the 2014-15 season.