Torquay United Supporters Trust have sent an open letter to the Gulls as they seek assurances over a number of issues at the club
In a week when Gulls chairman Dave Phillips revealed that the National League clubs were in “advanced talks” over a possible takeover at the club, the Supporters Trust have expressed their concerns that efforts to work alongside the club have been ignored.
However the TUST refuted suggestions that they were being disloyal to the club and paid tribute to the work being done by the club’s player-manager Kevin Nicholson.
The Gulls currently sit fourth from bottom in the Vanarama National League table, a point and a place behind Boreham Wood.
And although relegation is still a possibility, Nicholson has overseen a turnaround in form, with the Gulls losing only once in their last ten games.
That form led to the TUST saying “Kevin Nicholson has done a miraculous job on the pitch despite circumstances beyond his control and like supporters everywhere we will be kicking every ball in the fight to avoid relegation”
There have been a whole host of issues surrounding the club this season including their groundshare with Truro City, a possible move to a new stadium at Nightingale Park and the takeover talks.
And it is these three issues that are included in the open letter.
In regards to the groundshare with Truro City, the TUST are seeking clarification on how much the National League South club are paying to use Plainmoor and what involved City owner Peter Masters has in the affairs of the Gulls.
Their concerns surrounding any potential new owners focus on what plans anyone taking over the club have and they are also seeking clarification over the possible move to Nightingale Park, asking for full transparency with details of the move.
The letter in full read:
To the Chairman.
We write an open letter on behalf of Torquay United Supporters Trust (TUST) to draw your attention to three major concerns currently being expressed by many Torquay United supporters.
TUST understands the need for commercial and strategic confidentiality but also asks for greater transparency in keeping supporters informed.
This letter is a request for information and clarity about each issue. It is written in the interest of all who share an interest in Torquay United.
1. TRURO CITY GROUDSHARE
TUST is anxious about the consequences of 50-60 matches being played on a surface that has suffered considerably from the adverse weather of the last 3 months and remains subject to waterlogging. We ask whether an adequate sum will be spent to ensure the pitch can handle the increased wear and tear; we ask what work needs to be done (and if this will prove sufficient in the longer-term);
If not subject to any confidentiality agreements, TUST requests confirmation of how much Truro City is paying and what proportion of the sum will be spent on the playing surface and improved drainage. We would also welcome clarification over the precise involvement of the Masters family in the current and future affairs of Torquay United.
2. PROPOSED NEW STADIUM
TUST has noted the potential proposal and benefits of a move to a new site at Nightingale Park. However, following February’s announcement, we are seeking assurances that the intended site – a disused landfill facility – is not only suitable for such a project but can be achieved within a reasonable budget and time scale. We also enquire as to whether the current development partners have a track record of delivering projects of this nature. This is a major initiative; the club only has one chance to execute it properly.
Full transparency is vital at an early stage on a number of issues: the eventual ownership of any new stadium (and the surrounding land); the terms of any leasehold agreed by the club; the full implications (and cost) of moving from Plainmoor for both the club and its sub-tenants; the future of Plainmoor should it be vacated. TUST seeks an early update but additionally invites the club to release a full positional statement at the first opportunity.
3. NEW OWNERS?
TUST is aware of the real possibility that ownership of the club is about to change hands. If this is true it cannot be emphasised just how important it is to transfer ownership only to people who have the club’s and the supporters best interests at heart. Specifically TUST would urge caution regarding any prospective owner whose input is by means of a loan rather than new share capital.
The next due balance sheet will only reflect affairs as of June 2015. To aid understanding TUST proposes the board releases an outline financial statement summarising the club’s financial position as of now rather than last summer. Furthermore TUST requests clarification over the current and future ownership of Plainmoor Ltd that, which we note, was owed £3,070,201 by the club as of 31 May 2015.
As for next season, supporter confidence – and season ticket sales – will be boosted by the board assuring us that full business planning is in place for 2016/17 to cover all eventualities.
We believe this is an opportune moment for the directors of Torquay United AFC to provide as detailed an account of the above as possible.
TUST would ask for your agreement to publish your response to our members and for it to be available to a wider audience.
Finally TUST formally requests to meet any prospective new owners to set out supporter concerns and to enquire of the purchasing party’s long-term intentions for the club.
We thank you in advance for taking the time and trouble in meeting this request. We believe answering it as fully as possible would be in everybody’s interests as well as being warmly welcomed by all of the club’s supporters.
We look forward to hearing from you
Torquay United Supporters Trust