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Proud to be “County”

Once again our fans show that they are the best.  Brilliant County fans….and a few other clubs’ supporters besides.  The inaugural “County Charity Cycle” from Stockport County FC to Southport FC was a resounding success.  Last Saturday, all 70 cyclists completed the course (48.7 miles) without any major incidents and judging by the pledges the Organisers hope that the fundraising targets will be reached.  It’s not too late to show your appreciation by making a donation in recognition of these sterling efforts.  Please visit: www.mygift.org.uk/countycharitycycle

The fundraising event was set up to raise monies towards St Ann’s Hospice and Stockport County Supporters Co-operative.  Everybody really enjoyed the day and it is hoped that this may become an annual fixture.  The photograph attached shows the start of the race outside Edgeley Park with Rob Clare heading the field.

Sarah Bennett, Community Fundraising Officer for St Ann’s Hospice said “I just wanted to say congratulations on the event on Saturday. Not only did the weather hold off but everyone made it to the match (eventually!) in one piece! Please extend my thanks to all your volunteers and associated partners for the ride.”

Adrian Stores, Director, Stockport County Supporters Co-operative commented: “This really showed what Stockport County fans are all about. Everyone is justifiably proud of the day.”

In addition, other feedback includes:

“Just wanted to say a massive thank you for arranging the County Charity Cycle. I thought it was great turn out for its first year and the morale on the day was great – I loved it!”

“Many thanks for an extremely enjoyable event on Saturday.  It was extremely well organised and a real success.”

“Many thanks for putting on such an enjoyable event last Saturday.”

“Fabulous day, what County is all about IMVHO”.

Bike ride photographs are on: www.facebook.com/countycharitycycle

Clear Blue Skies Over Edgeley

… But Cloud Over Football

Today heralded Port Vale Football Club entering Administration – a status, all too familiar to fans of Stockport County.  This is the 92nd insolvency in the top five divisions of English football since 1992. The equivalent of the entire top-four divisions of English professional football!

The Football Authorities have also just released their joint response to the recommendations of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry and the Government’s input on improving the regulation and governance of English football. At this stage, Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative seeks to emphasise that the proposals are not what we were hoping for. Although they have proposed the introduction of a licensing system, in our view, this stage of the reform process only addresses the ‘principle of licensing’ and thus, doesn’t go far enough.

We endorse the opinions of Supporters Direct and its proposals on this matter, including a clear proposal for supporter-engagement through supporters’ trusts. Stockport County Supporters Co-operative is part of a wider movement of organisations, under this umbrella body, established by supporters of football clubs now stretching not just across England, or the UK, but also across Europe. Ashley Simpson, Chair at the Co-operative commented: “If the substantive issues are not addressed, we fully expect the current trend of insolvencies and financial strife affecting football to continue.”

Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative and Supporters’ Direct welcomes proposals in the football industry that can help supporters’ trusts to increase their influence in club governance and ownership.

This is a press release that I prepared for the Co-operative. The full stance on governance from Supporters Direct is available at: http://clients.squareeye.net/uploads/sd/Licensing_Proposal_A.pdf

Magpies been hoarding

As a sequel to ‘Taxman Cometh’, one Premier Club has been tackled – Newcastle United.

Apparently the Club had set aside an amount to pay but the actual figure yet to be disclosed is predicted to be less than the contingent liability that the Club had calculated and ‘stored’ in previous accounting.

Newcastle United has settled its claim for outstanding tax by the HM Revenue & Customs over the payment of “image rights” to players.

The majority of arrears is understood to relate to the payment of image rights to its players.  It is said, a ‘loop hole’ had been taken advantage of and by classifying these payments as image rights rather than salaries they could be distributed to companies (including offshore). Thus, benefitting from reduced corporation tax (26% rather than higher rate at 50%).

I understand that Chelsea and Newcastle have dealt with HMRC though other premiership clubs are following suit. A HMRC spokesman has quoted that: “The majority of premier league football clubs have now confirmed that they will pay tax arising from image rights payments, and we continue to negotiate with those that are yet to settle.”

FCUM nearly home

FC United of Manchester (“FCUM”) has raised in excess of £1.5M from its community shares issue.  I am delighted to have worked with this Club in the UK (and Turkey).  This experience reflects my commitment to the concept of greater supporters’ involvement and governance being a potential model for ‘clubs’ stewardship’.

The achievement means that only £71K is needed to build the Stadium and ancillary facilities in Moston.  I have no doubt that this will be achieved.  I’ve even had a recent notification of another bid for FCUM being successful.  Indeed, they are asking me to meet in the morning?

The Club has received planning permission from Manchester City Council to build a football ground and community facility in Moston, North Manchester, and is looking to raise £4.6M in total.  This Site after an earlier proposed site at Ten Acre Lane and a ‘spiritual home’ at Newton Heath fell through.

The Appeal illustrates something that I have been excited by for some time as another string (of many!) in running the sport and financing in non-traditional ways.

FCUM’s Andy Walsh, General Manager comments: “Raising over GBP1.5m in the current economic climate has been a Herculean effort and we believe is the largest amount ever raised by supporters independently. With 95% of our share target now achieved, and brilliant progress made on other funds such as our Development Fund, we just need a final push to raise the remaining GBP71,000 by 15 March, which will unlock other grant funding and enable us to start building in Moston”.

The FC United community share scheme has a minimum share purchase of £200 and is open to all investors, whether individuals or organisations. The share issue has been given advance approval by the HMRC Enterprise Investment Scheme and subject to personal circumstances this allows individuals to claim tax relief of up to 30 per cent on the amount that they purchase in the share scheme.