Colin Gordon’s Q&A session

We have been made aware of a recent Q&A session held at our football club, when references were made to the club’s relationship with KHIST and, as the Chairman’s somewhat outdated but, nevertheless controversial remarks have been repeated on a public forum ( The Harriers’website), we have regretfully concluded that we have no alternatve than to express the facts of the matter, in like fashion. Before doing so however, it should not go without comment that considerable efforts are continuing between our board and the club, to improve co-operation, in a genuine spirit of goodwill and that we’ve been very happy with our achievements in that respect. It really is unbelievable, therefore, that Colin should have chosen this particular time to have another go at KHIST. As our members are well aware, our board has maintained an ongoing policy of trying to avoid confrontation but, regretfully, we do have to defend ourselves against half-truths and spin and, as always, to keep our members well-informed.

We accept that there is a desire amongst the Harriers faithful for the relationship of old to be re-established and that would be our ultimate objective but, how can progress towards that end be maintained whilst the Chairman persists in ‘raking up old mud’, time and time again. This development is really disappointing.

We have no interest in prolonging or exacerbating this setback, so have resolved to confine our remarks to Colin’s specific comments (shown in blue below) which in the main are ‘old hat’.

What is the state of the relationship with KHIST?

At the moment I don’t know if there even is one. And that is not for the want of trying. But you can look back and see what I’ve said on record, because I don’t think any of us have the time or energy to engage in another back and forth and war of words.

There is, in fact, an improving relationship. We have much work to do but there is a mutual will to improve co-operation and, KHIST members will have seen evidence of this in our recent web-posts.

KHIST currently hold a surplus of our own supporters’ money, but it is their discretion as to how they use it.

Our members are fully aware that funds raised by KHIST belong to the Trust and they are kept fully advised as to how these are expended and/or reserved.. The greater proportion of our limited funding is designated and that has the formal approval of the membership.

I did make contact with them (the Trust) to discuss projects that KHIST may be interested in. Most recent of these was the financing of the new stadium scoreboard. It was insisted that financial details about the scoreboard were made available to them, and we detailed the total cost of it and the lease we took out to the penny. Their response was to say that the information provided was not of sufficient detail for them and so on that basis they could not proceed, which I felt an odd position and something of a shame as it would have been an ideal way for them to get involved.

We did indeed consider a proposal to fund the new scoreboard but, having previously provided substantial funding for the installation of a passenger lift to the Aggborough Suite – which was then allegedly expended without the board’s approval – we were obliged to insist that future donations would be subject to the formal agreement of reasonable conditions, which were documented.

When requested to fund the scoreboard, in August, it had already been installed. It is correct that some information was provided but, as explained in writing to the Chairman, this was inadequate – a copy quotation ( dated 7th June), with a handwritten amendment. This quotation offered options of (i) full purchase or (ii) lease rental but, it was not made clear which of these options had been accepted. We eventually explained (in November), that we had been unable to proceed with the funding as we had received no confirmation of the actual purchase, nor had we been provided with the requested copy invoices and receipts. In the absence of further contact from the club, it was clearly understood that the matter was closed. It now appears that the scoreboard is leased (see Colin’s comments above).

For the time being, the limited, undesignated funding we have has been reserved for future expenditure and. KHIST members have been kept fully informed.

I should add and remind people as well that this came after I was bluntly and in no uncertain terms told in person that KHIST, at the time, wanted no further relationship with the club before a Boardroom door was almost taken off its hinges, in front of witnesses.

This statement is an untruth. We did have heated discussions regarding KHIST funding but, at no time, did we ever say that we wanted no further relationship with the club (nor would we …. it’s our club). Again, the statement about the door almost being taken off its hinges is a fabrication, and there are no witnesses. Indeed there are witnesses to the contrary.

So I am frustrated at any perception that I and the club have, pardon the pun, shut the door on KHIST as that is not the case. I have made an effort.

It is common knowledge that the door was shut on KHIST back in 2017 but, restrictions then imposed have since been lifted. We have kept our membership fully informed..

I am aware that that there has more recently been cooperation and some common ground found on other issues which is nonetheless very encouraging.

Yes, this has been a most encouraging development, which has resulted from a mutual acceptance between individuals that co-operation between the Club and the Trust can only be in the interests of both parties. This is something to foster and we very much hope that nothing will now be done to detract from this genuine goodwill.

I genuinely feel it would only be right to try and find a way for the money that supporters have donated, many feeling it would be passed directly to the club, to be utilised in a way that benefits everybody – as it was under the late Steve Millington.

So far as we are aware, the Chairman’s lack of understanding of the word ’independent’ in the Trust’s title is the major cause of disagreement between KHFC and KHIST. It is a fundamental fact that the Trust is independent of the club (with good reason). Those Harriers supporters who are KHIST members understand and respect this fact. There has never been any agreement (nor understanding) that funds raised will be passed directly to the club and that’s not intended for the future. The Trust will continue to control expenditure and, as always, will decide for ourselves what is in our members’ best interests.

The late Steve Millington was a highly respected Trust Chairman who will not have allowed substantial funds to have passed directly to the club, unless he and the KHIST board had been in a position to trust the club’s board of directors, at the time, with its designated expenditure. No individual person, including our Chairman, has authority to make such decisions.

 

Is there a way this relationship can be repaired – surely this is best for all parties?

I would agree. But that needs to come both ways and the onus cannot always be on me and those at the club.

The onus has never been one-sided. We have always been prepared to talk and have been involved in meeting with the club for that purpose but, progress has usually been subject to constant demands for unrestricted money.

To be at the top of any company means making decisions that may be unpopular – and not being afraid to do so. In the last few years it has been far from easy to make those decisions, but I will be explicitly clear: each of those decisions has been taken for the benefit of the football club. What the decisions do not do, is undermine or belittle the contributions and efforts of a lot of good people who have worked here in the past. Sadly, often the taking of these decisions has been, ultimately, the fundamental reason behind the breakdown of some relationships. It would be hugely beneficial to our football club for EVERYONE who supports it to be encouraged to do so in every possible way.

We have no way of assessing if Colin’s decisions have always been for the benefit of the club, so have to accept his personal assessment. We’re positive however, that those of us who support the club will do so, in their own way, irrespective of the views of others.

It has been a bitter disappointment to see people no longer supporting the club in some of those ways, in favour of taking their custom elsewhere in respect of events or even a drink on a Saturday night. I refer largely but not entirely to our relationship with a very small minority of people within KHIST.

KHIST was obliged to move its base to the Social Club in 2017, when facilities at Aggborough Stadium were withdrawn by KHFC. Without that hospitality the Trust would have ‘died’, so we owe an enormous debt of gratitude which we must now repay. We have a mutually beneficial agreement that gives us the security of knowing that we can continue KHIST activities, in the interests of our members, without having concerns that the facilities will again be withdrawn. There is no compulsion on members to frequent the social club, but it is proving to be very popular.

The basis for the breakdown of that relationship has been because of changes the club has made in terms of personnel and structure, and as a result the things that were regrettably said afterward that even many of the Trust’s own board felt unable to support.

The Trust made a well-reasoned statement to our members in early 2017, following changes to the KHFC board. That statement was approved by KHIST board members, before it was issued and by all persons to whom it related. We have previously agreed with the Chairman to set this aside as ‘old hat’ with a view to ‘moving on’ but, once again, it’s being used to justify the club’s actions which led to the breakdown of relations and our enforced move to the social club.

I want to say this: what unites us as people who care about Kidderminster Harriers is far, far greater and more important than anything that divides us.

We are entirely in agreement with this statement – COYR!

There is still a desire to mend those relationships and for us all to be together. We ALL want success for the team and the club, and this is undoubtedly achieved better, quicker and sooner if we are all together.

Once again, we are in agreement with this. As stated above, we have been working, behind the scenes, to improve co-operation between the club and the Trust. It’s a start. Hopefully, this untimely review by the Chairman will not detract from our joint efforts, going forward.

It would be remiss of me to also not mention Dave Mole, Norman White and those working with the Harriers Fan Club. They’ve worked exceptionally hard with events and fundraising and this has made a tangible difference with things like our Kit van and its maintenance and running costs, which has given us a considerable saving. I don’t speak for them but I know their intention was only ever to work alongside KHIST in an ideal world and not to replace them in any way, and I still hope that can be the case.

Dave Mole is a good friend of KHIST and of its board members. He has personally assured us that the fan club has not been set up in competition with KHIST. We do not have concerns about Harriers Fans seeking their own ways of supporting our football club. We would, of course, have preferred that they had sought to achieve their objectives via KHIST. However, our biggest regret is that the endorsement of the fan club as the KHIST alternative resulted in the divisive behaviour that invoked the decision to close the KHIST 2020 Lottery and the consequent loss of major, potential funding for our club.

It’s very much hoped that, having now had this exchange of views over the events of the past 2 years, we may now be able to ‘move on’.  

For and on behalf of the KHIST board