The new chairman of a football club outlined his view for the future and answered questions from fans at an open forum last night (Tuesday).
Stamford AFC chairman Chris Rivett, who took the role in August, invited fans and shareholders to a meeting at the Daniels’ ground in Kettering Road.
He was joined by Peter Davis, commercial director of printing firm Regal Sports Press and former commercial director at Luton Town.
Regal Sports Press, of which Mr Rivett is a director, has made an offer to buy the shares of the football club’s major shareholders, originally sold for 50p each, for 10p.
The company hopes its investment will enable the Daniels to move up the football ladder from their current position in the Evo-Stik Division 1 South and become a bigger part of the Stamford community.
Speaking to about 30 fans, including shareholders, Mr Rivett said: “The club lives by a fairly prudent financial management process and turns over a minimal profit which should be commended.
“I have sat in several board meetings and thought the approach is good but it would be a lot nicer if life was a bit more comfortable.
“I felt the best thing to do was to look at opportunity for investment, as much in terms of expertise as finance.”
Those at the meeting asked questions on the share offer and on the club’s planned move with New College Stamford to a new stadium and educational facility in Ryhall Road.
Several people, including lifelong fan Andy Hunt, 54, questioned why Regal Sports Press wanted to buy out existing shareholders rather than make an offer for the 80,000 unissued shares in the club.
Mr Davis said roughly 60 per cent of shares in the club were owned by 10 or 12 people and buying these would be the quickest way to get control of the club.
He said that the company had offered to buy 40,000 unissued shares but was rethinking its offer after it emerged that another 40,000 were available.
Explaining the 10p offer for shares that originally cost 50p, Mr Davis said: “It is a business decision. The shares are essentially worthless.
“By offering something we felt we were doing the honourable thing, respecting the money that has been put in by decades of different people and giving them some sort of return.”
Nigel Hards, who is chairman of the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Trust, questioned why Regal Sports Press wanted to get involved with Stamford AFC.
Mr Davis said the company had a history in developing commercial partnerships which put money back into football clubs.
He added: “Because of that we have benefitted with secondary business by working with sponsors.
“We don’t have too much coverage within this area. Stamford became a business opportunity.
“We are not taking a penny out of Stamford. We will be supporting the club financially where we believe the business model stands up.
“The payback for us is partners to work with - New College Stamford in particular, and Burghley.
“If it fails and we don’t do any additional business then we are the people taking the risk.”
Several fans raised questions about plans to move from the Daniels’ current ground in Kettering Road to Ryhall Road. The new stadium would be connected to a New College Stamford sports and teaching facility and the combined scheme would cost £5m.
Mr Rivett was reluctant to discuss the move until further discussions between the college and Burghley House Preservation Trust, which owns the land. But he reassured fans that the stadium would be better than the existing ground and would be used and managed solely by the club.
He also pointed out that the shared facilities, like the indoor sports hall and all-weather pitch, could be used by the club and could also generate income.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Rivett said: “It was a good evening and I’d like to thank everyone who came down. We had a decent turnout and there was a healthy open debate about what is best for the future of the club.
“As chairman, that is what I am responsible for overseeing, I feel very strongly that this will be greatly benefit the club, and the community. It’s an opportunity that might not ever come along again.
“I hoped this would unite the town but at the moment it’s split people. I think most arrived with an open mind and were willing to hear more about our plans, and by the end, the majority were supportive.
“There are some who are opposed to it but given the number of people in the room that was to be expected. I understand that, not everyone likes change.
“We’ve answered every question put to us and we’ve done our talking now, it’s up to the shareholders who, I am sure, will already have started chatting through the pros and cons amongst themselves to decide what happens next.”
Mr Rivett welcomed further questions either in person or through the Daniels website.