Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust
Consultation on future use of DHST funds
Position statement – April 2018
On 28 February 2018, Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust (DHST) opened a consultation to hear the views of its members in relation to the future use of funds held by the Trust. The DHST Board recognised that the actions of Meadow Residential since October 2017 have placed severe strain on the Football Club’s finances, and anticipated that this may result in requests to DHST to increase the level of financial support it currently provides to the Club.
The Board is grateful for the many detailed and thoughtful responses we received. We have considered these, and agreed to adopt the position set out in more detail below.
In summary, DHST will maintain its existing level of financial support to the club. Further financial support, if requested, will be at the discretion of the Board, also taking into account the outcome of this consultation and advice from Supporters Direct. The Board would need to be satisfied that such support would be a prudent use of DHST funds, consistent with DHST’s objects and for the benefit of the community served by the Club.
A key outcome of the consultation was that 65% of respondents would defer to the Board in making financial decisions or would support the Board in following the advice of Supporters Direct.
For questions relating to any matters included within this statement please contact DHST via email at email@example.com or speak to any Board member on a match day.
- The DHST Board must act in accordance with its governing document (the Society Rules); one of which is to follow best practice as advised by Supporters Direct. The Board must act in the way it considers most likely to achieve DHST’s objects, and in accordance with other legal obligations – notably the duty to act with reasonable care, skill and diligence.
- DHST intends for profits to be applied in accordance with Rule 6 of its constitution. This means profits will be used to maintain prudent reserves and will be used on expenditure to achieve the Society’s objects.
- The overall position that DHST will adopt is that requests for financial support will be considered by the DHST Board and any agreement will be at the discretion of the Board. In considering requests for larger sums the DHST board will consult with Supporters Direct and will also consider the outcome of this consultation. The DHST board will not normally seek a vote of DHST members when considering individual requests for financial support.
- The overall position in paragraph 3 is supported by the consultation responses. Sixty-five per cent of respondents expressly stated that they would defer financial decision making to the Board and/or advice of Supporters Direct.
- DHST will continue to support the Club financially through existing channels such as the merchandise profit share, sponsorship and fundraising events.
- As per advice from Supporters Direct, DHST does not intend to provide financial support unless there is evidence of clear benefit to the long-term future of the Club, its supporters, and the local community that the Club serves.
- The DHST Board will ask that requests for financial support from the Club are supported by the information necessary (including financial information) to allow the DHST Board to make an informed decision. The Board also asks that requests are made in good time to allow the DHST board to consult with Supporters Direct and consider as necessary.
- As outlined in the consultation, any request for funds that extends beyond those held by the Trust, for example the 100 Club reserves, would require further consultation with the 100 Club contributors.
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- Background to the Consultation
Meadow Residential, owners of Champion Hill, withdrew all financial support to the Football Club on 1 November 2017. This followed the abandonment of Meadow’s application to redevelop Champion Hill. Subsequently, Meadow have evicted the Club from Champion Hill which leaves the Club with reduced profit on match days. This has left the Club in a difficult position financially and it is likely that DHST may be asked to help make up any shortfall, although to date no formal requests have been received.
DHST’s constitution requires the board to act in the best interests of the community served by the Football Club and the board therefore asked our members to express their views for the board to consider as part of any financial decision-making process.
- Summary of consultation responses
Forty-one eligible respondents participated in the consultation. All respondents were registered members.
Due to the nature of the consultation, some participants expressed more than one view within their response. Each comment has been considered and the frequencies of key themes, as defined by us, are expressed as percentages below. Please note the percentage expresses the number of respondents out of the total which expressed that specific view. Therefore in each case it must not be considered that the opposing view was supported by the remainder of the respondents, merely that the specific theme was not raised.
- Support/agreement to defer to the board in making financial decisions (45% of respondents).
- Support/agreement to follow advice of Supporters Direct (20% of respondents).
- Support/agreement to fund match day operations (22% of respondents).
- Support/agreement to fund players’ wages (15% of respondents).
- Do not support/agree to fund players’ or management wages (12% of respondents)
- No relevant comments or no opinion on this matter (9% of respondents).
- Impose a limit of £10,000 on any funds provided (12% of respondents).
- The Club should reduce its expenditure (12% of respondents).
- DHST should influence how money provided to the Club is spent (7% of respondents).
NB: Point 5 represents 5 respondents who said they would not support / agree to DHST funding the players’ or management wages.
32% of respondents commented that they would support the provision of additional funds from DHST for specific purposes, for example legal costs, VAT bills, for a phoenix club, in exchange for equity, to fulfil other specific objectives, or if it was a loan.
The same percentage of respondents said they would not support DHST offering funds for short term costs – for example, to ‘prop up’ the Club for the remainder of the season. Some respondents commented that they would not support any funds being provided to the club, and others said that DHST should not contribute money unless there was security, a sustainable future, or the funding would enable supporters to gain more direct control over the long term future of the club, in addition to day to day running.
In addition to responses directly related to the transferring of monies to the Club, other points were made through the consultation responses that warrant due consideration.
- There is a need for assurances that the Club has a sustainable business plan in place.
- There is a need for greater transparency of the Club finances.
- There is no point in spending money to achieve promotion if the Club ceases to exist in the future.