The Well Society Board met on April 18th 2017 for our monthly scheduled board meeting. The meeting was attended by Tom Feely, Douglas Dickie, Doug Inglis, Maureen Kirkwood, Sandy Kilpatrick, Gavin Whitefield and Craig Hughes. Jason Henderson sent his apologies as he could not attend.
We were also delighted to be joined by First Team Manager Stephen Robinson who came along to the start of the meeting before having to head off to the U20s match that evening.
As always we are happy to provide a summary of the topics covered.
This was the first opportunity for Stephen Robinson to be introduced to the Well Society Board collectively, although many had already met with him either through the interview process or informally. Stephen gave us an update on the current squad including the injuries. He also gave the Board a further insight into his recruitment plan and his football philosophy.
Stephen stated how impressed he has been with some of the young players at the club, however he stressed that it is important not to rush too many of them into the first team squad if they are not yet ready.
He was very open and honest in his comments and made it clear he would only act in the best interests of the club.
Stephen stated he felt confident that the team could avoid relegation.
We would like to thank Stephen for taking the time to attend and we look forward to working closely with him moving forward.
The previous minutes were agreed. An update was given on the following points.
*Well Society Fundraising Raffle: Craig Hughes has applied for a license from NLC for this. There is a processing time of around four weeks meaning this will most likely start at the beginning of the season.
*Next Well Society Monthly Surgery: it was agreed that the next surgery would also be live on Twitter so that people could send in their questions.
*Rota: Craig Hughes to circulate rota so that everyone is aware what surgeries they will host and what areas each person is covering on matchdays.
It was previously agreed that we would look for some sort of representation from the Former Players Association on the Supervisory Board.
Tom Feely will arrange a meeting with the Former Players Association to discuss in more detail the way the Board operates and how they can get involved. From there they can put someone forward to the Supervisory Board.
Tom Feely gave an update on the finances of the Well Society. As previously discussed, we recently invested a further £110,000 into the club. We currently have around £26,800 in the bank with a further agreed £10,000 still to be invested in the club.
It was stated that some members would like further transparency and details on the finances.
When the Well Society originated, the aim was to build up a reserve as a safety net should the club get into financial trouble. As the Well Society are now owners of the club this has changed and investment in the club was required as part of the agreement.
It was agreed that this should be clarified in more detail to the members in a statement. The statement should also feature details of what payments have been made in the past and what plans were for the financial contributions in the future.
It was also previously discussed that the Society will need to undertake an audit to ensure that all Well Society members’ payments are recorded on a database that is a lot easier to manage and monitor than the previous incarnation.
Gavin Whitefield, Tom Feely, Craig Hughes , and Markus Schieren have already met to discuss the next steps and will be working on this over the next few weeks. The rest of the Board, along with volunteers, will be called upon to help when required.
Douglas Dickie gave us an update on Project Brave. Since our last meeting very little has changed. Clubs were required to submit intentions to bid to join the Elite League by March 31st, we have done that.
A costing exercise has been completed regarding what it would take to ensure the club had the required infrastructure in place to become an Elite League team. Douglas Dickie will ask for more detail on this at the next Executive Board meeting.
General Update/ Matchday Presence and Upcoming Events
Currently membership numbers are at 2095, with 1535 adults and 560 juniors.
Our increased matchday presence and introduction of monthly surgeries has had a fairly positive impact with new pledges and positive feedback. It was, however, stated that we should look to re-position the tables to ensure we are a bit more visible and accessible for all fans in the stadium.
It is vital we continue to have Well Society presence at matchdays and accessibility at monthly surgeries as it is important that fans have plenty of opportunities to have their questions, concerns, ideas and criticisms listened to.
We also recently hosted a table at the Sponsors Award Evening. The winners thoroughly enjoyed their night and it helped generate additional new pledges and renewals.
Maureen Kirkwood also suggested we try to put travel on for the final game of the season against Inverness. If we can offer Society members free bus travel to the Highlands it would hopefully generate a strong support for what could be a vital game. It would also be a gesture to thank Well Society members for their support throughout the season.
Craig Hughes to liaise with Suzie and Ryan at the club to arrange.
Gavin Whitefield brought up the organisational values that had previously been discussed at board meetings. The plan has always been for these values to be released and to be promoted through the club with the First Team Manager helping to promote.
It was suggested we make a promotional video to promote these values with players, coaches and members of staff involved.
Several members sent us in questions ahead of the Board meeting below.
What is the contingency plan if we get relegated?
The Club has looked at this and has made provision for the adjustment of costs in a number of departments for the possibility of relegation and its consequences.
Can we have a breakdown of where the money is going?
The money which is given by the Well Society to the Club is an investment, as owners, into the running and the improvement of the Club. As it stands, the Club currently invest approximately £2m into the playing and football department, which include players, scouting, coaching, young players, management, and medical team. The Club also currently invests approximately £130,000 into the Youth Academy. Over and above the footballing aspect of the Club, there are significant costs committed to the stadium upkeep (£110,000), Pitch Improvements (£123,000), Stewarding, Policing, Ambulance etc (£200,000), and training facilities and travel (£115,000). The list is not exhaustive, however it does indicate the level of expenditure required.
Are there plans for a share issue where fans can buy shares in the Club ?
It was made known at the time of the transfer of ownership that the Society would consider selling some of their shareholding, however still retaining ownership. Each application would require to be looked at in terms of level of investment prior to agreement.
Could crowdfunding be used for safe standing in the East Stand?
Safe standing is something that the Club has looked at in the past, however due to the work that would need to be undertaken – in the East Stand in particular – to facilitate safe standing it was deemed unfeasible at the time. It is something we may look at in the future, however it is not a current priority. In terms of crowdfunding, we would be reluctant to ask supporters for additional crowdfunding support as we are very wary that they already contribute considerably to the Club through season tickets, pledges, merchandise, hospitality etc.
Would we look at introducing an autism friendly area in the stadium?
The Board all agree this is a fantastic idea and we will work with the Community Trust and the relevant individuals at the Club to find out what it would take to introduce this.
Have we considered broadcasting service to show matches to members outwith the UK?
Highlights as well as radio commentary are available to fans all over the world, however we will certainly speak to the Media Team and find out what the possibility/costs would be of streaming matches for fans based abroad.
If you have any further questions regarding this Board meeting or any other Society matter, please don’t hesitate to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 23rd. This was originally scheduled for May 16th, however it has been rearranged due to the home match with Kilmarnock that night.