Harriers Voice – latest update

The ‘meeting’ was called to assess the football club’s responses to the questions referred by KHIST to ‘harriers voice’ on 25th January – A posting dated 11th February can be found on the KHFC website.

Board members involved:  Haydn Bebb, Dave Lewis, Chris Wilson, Warwick Nash, Dave Williams, Stuart Walstrom, and Ian Nash.

General observations :- 

Monica Shafaq now requires future questions to be emailed DIRECTLY to ‘harriers voice‘. Questions received on behalf of others or from any other avenue, will not be included. It’s intended, we understand, to communicate with fans on an individual basis.  This, we are asked to believe, is in the interests of transparency and aiding the harriers board to have a streamlined process. We are told that questions of a potentially sensitive commercial nature may not be addressed.

Having made progress in talks to restore good relations with the club’s board, including an acceptance that we will work together on future projects we have been most disappointed with this development, which we see as another attempt to sideline the Trust from its prime function of representing the interests of KHIST members (and, so far as possible, those of other Harriers supporters).

If the club is interested in transparency, Harriers’ fans should be able to see all members’ questions and the club’s responses, which we had understood would be the prime intention of ‘harriers voice’. That has not, however, been the case.  We accept that there may be circumstances where commercial issues prevent the club from giving a ‘straight answer’ but it’s reasonable in such circumstances for that situation to be explained. This would satisfy the need for openness and transparency. It is not reasonable, however, for ‘commercial sensitivity’ to be used as an excuse to avoid responding to supporters’ questions.

We see streamlining as a non-issue, as KHIST have made clear that we would post all such information in an open forum.

It’s agreed that KHIST members must be encouraged to put forward their questions, observations, concerns, suggestions etc. and that these, together with the club’s responses shall be shared with other fans, in the interests of all those of us who have the best interests of our club at heart (i.e. transparency).

We are resolved to provide the best representation of supporters’ interests as possible, notwithstanding our understanding that questions from KHIST on behalf of fans will not be accepted. KHIST board members will therefore personally communicate our own questions as individuals, taking into account fans’ concerns. We may also ask willing members to submit single questions to ‘harriers voice’ on our behalf. It would still then be intended to ensure that supporters are kept informed.

Note: We have previously invited individual members who prefer to contact ‘harriers voice’ directly, to confirm their questions and responses (or lack of responses) to KHIST, for the benefit of other members and supporters.

Review of the club’s responses: 

Questions forwarded by KHIST 

Is there any prospect of reaching agreement with Bromsgrove Sporting to extend the loan of Jason Cowley, beyond the end of January? 

The club’s response is good news.


At the fans’ forum, last January, we were told that there were additional investors waiting to put resources into the club – What progress has been made and have investments been received? 
 

This question has been excluded from the club’s responses, without explanation. Members must draw their own conclusions. 

 

2018 Rights Issue: 

a ) Have the part-paid shares – for which a balance of approximately £2,000,000 was to have been payable on demand – now been fully funded? 

b) If not, can all or part of the remaining sum(s) payable to the club now be demanded?

c) In the event that payments have not (or cannot) be secured, will the club now recover the shares and make them available to potential investors?  

Here again, these questions have been omitted from the club’s responses without explanation. There is clearly a major issue which the club’s ‘board’ is not inclined to share but it would appear its resolution could be highly significant in securing the healthy future of our football club. We call on the club for transparency. The questions have now remained unanswered for too long.

 

Club ownership 

In a post to the club’s website on 24th December 2020, it was claimed that Richard Lane and Neil Male are “owners”. This does not however appear to be borne out by the recent Companies House Confirmation Statement, which does not record Neil as being a shareholder. Has there been a fundamental change of ownership since the effective date of the statement?   

Neil Male now confirmed NOT to be a co-owner of the club, as previously suggested.

  

The KHFC board

Companies House is still recording Dave Seddon as a Director, although he is understood to have resigned in October 2019 – he is also recorded as a Director on the KHFC website. Is Dave still on the board?  

Note: KHIST were advised by Neil on 23rd March 2020 that Dave’s resignation had been accepted and that the relevant paperwork was to be filed at the end of that month, in conjunction with the year’s end accounts. 

It’s now confirmed that Dave Seddon is NOT a director. 

Neither Neil Male nor Monica Shafaq is recorded at Companies House as a Director (nor are they so recorded on the club’s website). Would you please confirm their relationship with the club as they both appear to be involved in decisions usually made at board level? 

Note: On 27th March 2020 KHIST provided Neil Male with links which we suggested might be helpful. In particular it was explained that “Companies House Form AP01 is used to appoint an individual as a company director. The appointment must be registered with Companies House within 14 days of their appointment. As there is no legal distinction between executive and non-executive directors, their details would need to be filed with Companies House in the usual way”.   

Neil Male is CEO and Monica Shafaq is ‘non-executive’ Director (albeit still not recorded at Companies House) each having “delegated authority to make decisions”. Only one director (Richard Lane) will remain on record.

The recent Confirmation Statement was issued by Neil Stanley – presumably a person authorized and providing an external service? Is Geoff Coles still the Club’s Company Secretary?   

Neil Stanley’s relationship with the club has been satisfactorily explained. 

Geoff Coles remains in post as Company Secretary, although the response appears to infer that this may be temporary? 

 

Future security

Following Richard Lane’s assurance (at the Fans’ Forum in January 2020), that there are no plans to move the club from Aggborough, has there been any request for a substantial extension of the current lease? This would ensure long-term security of tenure and demonstrate a commitment to remain at the club’s historic home, in accordance with the wishes of the vast majority of the club’s fanbase. 

Note: KHIST have good reason to understand that such a request would be favourably received. 

Here again, this important question has been omitted from the club’s responses without explanation and, in the light of Richard Lane’s public assurance (above), it cannot be considered as being commercially sensitive.  Members will undoubtedly read into this lack of response a disinclination to discuss the club’s ongoing intentions – possibly suggesting a secretive agenda? That will be most concerning to the vast majority of the club’s fanbase.  

 

Other Questions/ Our responses 

Can the club advise if KHIST has offered any financial assistance during this difficult time?   

We do not accept the club’s response to this question as being factual or reasonable. 

It’s most unlikely that this question will have been asked by a KHIST member, as our board has regularly kept the membership well informed of financial decisions,

It seems that, despite all our efforts to explain the role we have had since 2004, the KHFC board (and some non-member supporters) still views KHIST solely as a fundraising organisation to support undesignated expenditure.

It’s important that the club understands that KHIST is established to represent the interests of its members (loyal supporters of Kidderminster Harriers Football Club) and, in that respect is bound by the terms of its Constitution – available to public viewing on the website. The Trust is not – has never been, nor should be – involved in funding the day to day running costs of the football club. Substantial sums have however been regularly invested, on behalf of our members, to assist the club with numerous projects. This invaluable support has been given whilst, at the same time, setting aside smaller sums to accumulate as an emergency fund designated for a single founding purpose (as required by the Constitution) – with help of other interested parties, to ensure the financial security of our football club for future generations or, if that’s not possible, to help fund a phoenix club to ensure the continuation of football in Kidderminster. 

The new owner(s) decision not to accept KHIST investment (at least for the foreseeable future) has been well-publicised. That’s something we do not understand but have had to accept. We have however been only too pleased to have since been able to help the ‘boost the budget’ appeal, as recorded in the club’s response to this question. It should be made very clear however that our members’ personal donations, which were substantial, were additional to the substantial contribution from KHIST funds.  

It’s been extremely difficult during the present pandemic to communicate with supporters and there have been few opportunities to raise funds. As and when the club relaxes its embargo, however, we hope to be in a position, initially in a small way, to recommence investment in our football club on behalf of our members. 

 

The club has given a satisfactory response to a supporters’ question regarding the status of the season.  

 

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