Club President Wael Al Qadi updates supporters on several topics in his latest open letter...
I hope that you are all keeping well and like me you are enjoying being back at the Mem supporting the team. It has been heartwarming to see and hear the support we are getting from the stands and I hope that we can now build on the positive performance and result from Tuesday night.
Through these letters, I have always tried to keep all supporters up to date on our progress and the thought process behind key decisions. As many of you will already be aware and to my great disappointment, there have been ongoing issues between the Football Club and the Supporters’ Club. As I think has been clear, the breakdown of our relationship with the Supporters Club has been long running and up until now, we have opted not to discuss this publicly.
First of all, it is important that I put on record that I know the vast majority of people within the Supporters’ Club are hardworking and dedicated supporters that selflessly commit both time and effort in fulfilling the Supporters’ Club mandate of supporting the football club. We are and always will be, extremely grateful for this support.
Despite the breakdown of communication, we have attempted to engage with the Supporters’ Club over the past year, to no avail.
Back in April 2020, we understand that unsubstantiated claims were made to the EFL about financial irregularity, generated by a Supporters' Club representative relating to the Football Club which was immediately dismissed. Despite contacting the Supporters’ Club requesting information to address any concerns that they had we did not receive a response.
I was therefore extremely surprised that no Supporters' Club representatives attended the club’s AGM on 28th September 2020 nor were any questions posed on the public fans forum that was held virtually in July 2020, to ask any questions or raise any concerns that they had.
Over the past year we have also asked the Supporters’ Club about their planned process for appointing a new representative to the board. Whilst we have been informed there are two potential candidates that have put themselves forward we have advised the Supporters’ Club that we cannot make progress on this matter until other issues are first resolved, Nevertheless my position has remained constant, and we look forward to welcoming supporter representation on the board in due course. In addition, we continue to welcome feedback and engagement from all supporters as we all want the same thing, to see the club improve and to help us reach our full potential.
There are matters raised in the most recent statement from the Supporters’ Club that I and the Football Club considers to be incorrect. Whilst it is not appropriate, in my view, to address these issues in a public forum in the manner that the Supporters’ Club has chosen to do there are some points that we must address so that the wider fan base can better understand the situation.
Over the past 18 months the pandemic has cost the club £3,000,000 and in addition we have invested heavily to build The Quarters, a facility that we are really proud of. Added to that we have sadly had the added financial pressure that relegation brings.
Despite this, as mentioned in their statement, the Supporters' Club have raised an issue in relation to a proposed payment of £50,000 by them towards the training ground facilities. This was originally suggested to us by the Supporters’ Club which was approved by them at their meeting on the 2nd November 2017.
The Supporters’ Club claim that the training ground is "owned by a third party". I want to make it crystal clear that I am the ultimate controlling shareholder of the Football Club and The Quarters, where the training ground is located. The training ground is not owned by a "third party"; it is ultimately owned by me. With Phase One of the Training Ground now nearing completion, this payment would be very welcome.
The next issue I would like to address is the 50/50 match day draw and programme sellers. Unfortunately, as a result of the breakdown of the relationship with the Supporters' Club, our loyal volunteers who make the draw happen have been caught in the middle and they have been unable to provide their usual excellent services for the first two home fixtures of the season.
I am pleased to say that on Tuesday night we were able to invite those special volunteers into the Club to invite them to enjoy the game against Oldham in hospitality as our guests. We are now working with them directly to ensure that they are back on their posts by the next home league game. I would like to place on record my personal thanks to all volunteers for their continued hard work and dedication that they have shown this football club over many years.
I also wanted to express a personal message to the shareholders. I want to assure you that we value your support and we will continue to engage and work with you moving forward.
Lastly, I feel sad to write that the relationship with the Supporters’ Club has deteriorated to a point that without change to its structure and/or representation I believe it cannot operate in the manner that is mutually beneficial for our supporters and the Football Club.
I really do hope that this letter has helped you understand that we will continue to engage and listen to all supporters and that we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make improvements to drive the Football Club forward. It has been a challenging last 18 months for all of us in many ways, personally and in business. Despite this, we feel positive about the future and if there is ever a time to pull together as a group then that time is now.
I look forward to seeing a full away end at Exeter cheering us!
Thank you again for all of your support and understanding.