Open Meeting at the ground - Monday 13 May 7.30pm

Discussion in 'Dulwich Hamlet FC' started by Pink Panther, May 12, 2019.

  1. Pink Panther

    Pink Panther Well-Known Member

    Matt The Cab likes this.
  2. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Can someone cover this for Buzz please? I don't think I can make it.
  3. Pink Panther

    Pink Panther Well-Known Member

    I took a few notes last night. Main topics covered were:

    Club finances
    Since December 10th the club's gross takings have been £620k, with £614k spent.

    Most of the income has been from gate receipts and bar takings (around £240k for each) with £77k raised by selling shares in the club and other income including hire of the ground for video shoots for Adidas and Puma.

    Expenditure has included £70k on clearing old debt, £111k paid in taxes, £184k on refurbishing facilities and relaunching the bar, and £167k on the playing/management and team support staff.

    The club is currently debt free.

    National League licence
    The club only had a conditional licence to play in the National League, which meant we were more strictly monitored than established clubs while our ground situation remained uncertain. This has now been upgraded to an unconditional licence.

    Players and contracts; playing budget
    The club is aiming to "go full time". We often hear about certain clubs being "full time", which is always taken as meaning they spend more money than part time clubs but, as Ben Clasper explained, the distinction between full and part time at this level is a lot more blurred than that. Basically full time clubs pay their players through the summer, whereas part time clubs only offer contracts covering the playing season. Being full time means the squad can begin pre-season training earlier and hopefully gain a head start on part time rivals by the time the season starts. It doesn't necessarily mean the training schedule is that much different during the season, or that a full time club is spending a greater amount than a part time club over a calendar year. Only a minority of players at this level have full time jobs outside football, most are effectively "professional footballers".

    The club will set a playing budget based on an average league attendance of 2,100 and not hosting any cup matches!

    Ground redevelopment
    New director Mark Weatherall (whose professional background is in planning and development in both public and private sectors) stated that he was happy with the direction the redevelopment plans were taking, but a little frustrated with the speed at which they are progressing; but emphasized that the direction is the priority rather than the speed. All three directors (BC, MW and Tom Cullen) had attended a meeting earlier in the day but were bound by confidentiality and unable to disclose full details.

    It was emphasized that the redevelopment would be phased so that we continue playing at the current ground until the new one is ready to use; there will not be a period of groundsharing as it's vital for the club/community dynamic as well as the club's finances that we play continuously in Dulwich.

    Enhancements to ground for forthcoming season
    It is hoped to add more steps of terracing before the new season starts. This could mean building up the existing steps behind each goal or adding steps along the St Francis Road side. The consensus seemed to be that improvements behind the goals would be preferable. There is a possibility of adding more cover behind the goal(s) and Ben expressed concerns that a series of wet matchdays could wipe a significant percentage off each attendance figure, admitting we'd been very lucky with matchday weather since returning whilst noting that the extremely windy day of the Truro match resulted in a figure around 500 below the next smallest attendance.

    These improvements have the aim of improving sightlines, not increasing capacity. It is felt that the current limit of 3,400 is sufficient.

    Pre-season friendlies
    We expect to play 6 or 7 friendlies. Those confirmed so far are:
    • Tuesday 9 July Colchester United (home)
    • Saturday 13 July Marine (away)
    • Saturday 27 July Crystal Palace (home)
    Marine play at Crosby on Merseyside and were our opponents in the 1932 FA Amateur Cup Final, which we won 7-1. The match is likely to kick off at 1pm, and there's a possibility of another fixture in the north west on the previous evening.

    DHFC women's team
    The club has absorbed an existing women's club, AFC Phoenix, who will play under the DHFC name and play their matches at Champion Hill on Sunday afternoons. DHFC season tickets will be valid for their league matches.

    Training facilities
    The club has come to an arrangement to hire and use the underused neighbouring playing fields of St Saviour's and St Olave's school whilst allowing use and access to local schools, with Hamlet players getting involved in coaching.

    I've tried to keep this as simple as possible. Hopefully someone else can correct any inaccuracies or flesh out some of the points with greater detail.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  4. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Excellent stuff! Do you mind if I post this on Buzz later (with a link back to this thread)?
  5. Dulwich Mishi

    Dulwich Mishi Old Skool Terrace Dinosaur-embracing the new-veau!

    Thank you Pink Panther ... I also took notes, but saw you jotting stuff down as well, and simply waited until your anticipated post!
  6. Pink Panther

    Pink Panther Well-Known Member

    By all means do.

    I was mainly noting for myself, and to clarify anything that might be queried on here, but when no one else had posted I thought I might as well share. If you have anything additional it would be good to read it. My notes were fairly brief other than all the financial stuff at the start.
  7. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Great news about the women's' team.
    jnrknight likes this.
  8. pompeydunc

    pompeydunc Well-Known Member

    My notes from last night. Apologies for length, and any inaccuracies in advance.

    The Club has received £620K in income since returning to Champion Hill, and has spent £614K. We are therefore breaking even (a small profit even). The bar is a majorly important part of our income, as it has taken £240K of the total income, while ticket sales are about the same amount. The kitchen is also now turning a profit. The club is no longer in any debt to any supplier or individual (£70K paid on old debt, i.e. stuff that was owed before the return to Champion Hill). No wages are owed to coaching, staff or stewards - all are paid up to date (this represents £167K). £111K has been spent on tax (VAT), while £184k has gone towards starting the bar and on stock. Match-day costs have been £45K over ten games, while Non-bar overheads have been £35k. The club has now been re-accredited as a Living Wage employer.

    The books will close on 30 June 2019, and will be published very soon after. The club plans to hold an AGM in July, when the accounts will be fully published. This will include the approximate £1m that Meadow have written off in debt, from when they were operating the club at a loss.

    The budget for next season will be based on an average attendance of 2100, and no home Cup games. Gavin has been fantastic to work with on the budget, and fully supports the need to make savings, before players can be brought in during the season. The 12th Man has also been fantastic in putting in additional funds to help the budget when required.

    Sponsorship has been low unfortunately, and it's an area to improve on. One audience member suggested having a coordinator, and volunteers for different sub-areas to coordinate. Another audience member suggested offering a commission only job to someone to raise sponsorship income for the club.

    Capital / shareholding in the club, and DHST role
    The club has received a £77k injection from shareholders. All loans that were provided to the club during the September crisis period have now been converted to capital (including DHST's loan). The Trust have been offered two seats on the Board, and they are currently considering how this should be handled. There is a slight constitutional issue here, as one of the Trust's roles is to hold the club to account, and another objective is to have seat on the club's Board. They are considering how to handle this.

    Playing side and training
    It's possible the club will become full-time next season. Talks are ongoing with players and a decision will be made imminently. We have the following friendlies confirmed:

    9 July - Colchester United at home
    12 July - possibly another team TBC
    13 July - Marine away (their 125th anniversary celebrations)
    27 July - Crystal Palace at home

    Other games TBC in due course.

    There was a lengthy discussion around the lack of clarity about players who depart the club, and it just being accidentally found out at a later date. The example of Ash Carew being on loan at Egham Town was pointed to. The Directors recognise they can do better on this, but there are times when it can't be announced due to the player's wishes (i.e. better able to bargain with next club, if they are not known to have actually left).

    The reserve team was scrapped a few years back for cost reasons. I asked whether it could be resurrected, or a U23 development side introduced; in order to give ASPIRE graduates, fringe players more playing opportunity. Ben said it's not something they have considered, but they would look into it with Gavin.

    Training will move next season to the two pitches that are either side of the Greendale footpath, i.e. here. They are currently leased by St Saviour's and St Olave's schools in the Elephant & Castle, but they are not used due to the cost of transporting children to the site. However, they are currently paying for their maintenance without using the pitches. DHFC will take over their management, so the schools don't need to pay for upkeep any more. The pitches will be used by all our teams for training, and for ASPIRE matches. It was not entirely clear what schools will get to use the pitches, and when. This move will be cost-neutral to the club, as they not need to pay to train elsewhere.

    The new women's team
    A women's team will play as Dulwich Hamlet FC next season. They are taking over AFC Phoenix, who play in the 5th level of the women's game in the London & South East Regional Women's League (London & South East Regional Women's). These games will be included in the cost of the season ticket. Their development side will also play as DHFC, but will not play at Champion Hill.

    National League issues
    The club had a conditional license to play in the National League this season, which meant we have been under a microscope. We have had to open up the books to the league, including demonstrating that we are PAYE compliant. We have now been given an unconditional license for next season.

    Ben has found it quite frustrating how much intrinsic detail that our club has been under, when other clubs in the National League have been flouting rules without any scrutiny. He has evidence from other clubs where they are not paying taxes and PAYE appropriately, but have had no scrutiny from the League.

    He was particularly frustrated that Welling deliberately under declared the Cup gate in order to keep more of the takings, and that Woking apparently sold a majority of concession tickets for our last home game, when the evidence on the day was a large majority of adults.

    Current ground
    There was strong opinions from several gathered that viewing of games at the current ground must improve next season. Several options have been considered, but no decision has yet been taken. One audience member pushed hard on the Directors taking a decision quickly so it can be implemented before the season started. The Directors committed to do so. The mood of the room seemed to indicate there was a preference to add steps and cover to both ends, and widen the raised area. There was little appetite from Ben to add raised standing around the sides, in order to preserve the openness of the site, and there were no audible objections to this. One person summed this up nicely as "Let the Rabble see".

    New ground
    Two of the Directors had observed a Council / Meadow meeting yesterday on the proposed new ground. They were not able to provide too much info due to confidentiality of the discussions. The vague summary was that the "Direction of travel is a good one", but delivery will not be as quick as envisaged. [Comment - not surprising as the proposed timeline from Meadow was very ambitious]. The club would engage with supporters on the design of the 3 sides of the ground on Greendale land in due course. Bulb are likely to be involved in the design as well, particularly on providing solar energy. One audience member said that supporters don't need to be consulted on the plans, as they would be happy with whatever is proposed, and the club should just get on with it.

    Long-term vision for club
    There was a long debate about the long-term vision for the club. It's clear and understandable that the football management side wish to keep progressing, hence going full-time discussions. We had the 91st highest average attendance across the country last season, so this pushes us into League football sphere.

    One audience member expressed concerns about this creep towards becoming a league team, as he stopped going to watch his league team due to the amount of money in the game and the poor match day experience. He would rather our aspirations are capped at a Step 2 or 3 club, and even went as far as to say that if we became a National League club, then he would support another non-league team.

    I said that the club had rightly focused on surviving over the last year, and it's great that these important short-term goals have been met (albeit there is still uncertainty around the ground). I asked whether the club could take some time next season to consult with supporters and think about having a vision and a longer term plan. All businesses have a vision and strategy, and without wanting it to feel too much like work, then these are essential to ensure that all are working in one direction. Ben said that it's something they would like to do, but obviously have had to focus on the short-term in recent months. He questioned whether this was something the club or the Trust should lead on. One person said that he didn't ever want to hear the phrase "five-year plan".

    Jack Payne closed the evening by thanking the Directors, staff and all the volunteers for their fantastic work over the last few months. He felt the current ownership was the best the club has had over many years.

    This is not a comprehensive report, as I was distracted at times by the exciting Forest Green vs Tranmere Rovers game on the TV, so please add important bits I may have missed.

    The End.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  9. pompeydunc

    pompeydunc Well-Known Member

    I waited this morning for a post from someone else, but none came. Should have waited a bit longer! I see Pink Panther has also written up, with similar info!
    editor likes this.
  10. editor

    editor hiraethified

  11. Monkeygrinder's Organ

    Monkeygrinder's Organ Dodgy geezer swilling vapid lager

    Thanks pompeydunc and Pink Panther for the updates. Some positive stuff there - I'm definitely up for some of the women's team games on a Sunday. Hopefully we can get a crowd building there.
    editor and Pink Panther like this.
  12. Al Crane

    Al Crane Well-Known Member

    Just on this point, I don't believe the St Saviour's and St Olave's pitches have any floodlights. Are we abandoning evening training completely or will we use Champion Hill when we require floodlit training sessions?
  13. pompeydunc

    pompeydunc Well-Known Member

    I was also wondering about intensity of use on two grass pitches, which will also need to accommodate ASPIRE and other youth games on two pitches. I presume we would need to have a back-up artificial surface for when they are unusable due to bad weather, or need to be protected for games. I wasn't also clear how much use the two local schools mentioned would have on the pitch (I forget their names).

    I see how St Olave's & St Saviour's will benefit in reducing their costs, but it didn't seem like the deal would help give their kids sporting provision, as it doesn't address their transport needs. I realise that can't be our priority, but just wondering...
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  14. EDC

    EDC A Slightly Less Invisible Cyber Fan These Days

    Given the proximity I would hope The Charter School is one of them.
  15. pompeydunc

    pompeydunc Well-Known Member

    Yes - I think that was one of them.
  16. dcdulwich

    dcdulwich Well-Known Member

    Charter East and North [Dulwich]. So the new one on part of the Dulwich Hospital site and the original one on Red Post Hill near North Dulwich station.
    Pink Panther, B.I.G and pompeydunc like this.
  17. EDC

    EDC A Slightly Less Invisible Cyber Fan These Days

  18. Griff_Turnstile

    Griff_Turnstile Agenda confused turnstile operator

    Presumably if the intention is to go “full time” then training can be arranged to suit the available daylight?
    Pink Panther likes this.
  19. Griff_Turnstile

    Griff_Turnstile Agenda confused turnstile operator

    Well some things haven’t changed even in the world of “modern football”
  20. Griff_Turnstile

    Griff_Turnstile Agenda confused turnstile operator

    Could someone please clarify this as the two phrases seem to mean different things in my book? Thanks
  21. pompeydunc

    pompeydunc Well-Known Member

    I think Pink Panther has phrased it better, but the opening financial piece was very quick, so it might have got lost in translation. It would be good to see how the current shareholders break down in well as the club's articles and current / proposed governance structure. Ben mentioned there will be an AGM in July, so I would expect it would become clearer then.
  22. Pink Panther

    Pink Panther Well-Known Member

    Of course the directors have a lot on their agenda right now and this isn't the top priority, but it was first mentioned at the previous meeting in January and the summer seems like a logical window in which to get this work done if at all possible

    I don't remember this comment myself, so have no idea who suggested it, but I strongly disagree. This is how we ended up with so many flaws in the current ground. I trust the club's directors to "get on with it". It's possible any suggestions from supporters may be impractical or unrealistic, and we can't get bogged down trying to resolve queries over minor details. However, there's always the possibility that someone from among the rank and file support might just highlight a significant or relevant matter that no one else had considered. For example I believe the 5 and 10 year season tickets initiative that helped raise a relatively large amount last summer was initially suggested by a supporter with no formal role in the club or supporters' trust. I see no harm in giving the rank and file an opportunity to engage or put forward comments when it might just benefit all of us.

    Clubs proclaiming the commencement of a 5 year plan tend to stay exactly where they are at best. (Except for Tooting, who announced a 7 year plan in 2011 and got relegated in the first year.) Frankly I'm not sure we'll ever have a ground large enough to meet the criteria for the Football League so I'll worry about that if we ever get close. I'm sure a lot of our supporters have a premier or Football League club whom they watch occasionally, even if they're very much a lapsed supporter and that club is a couple of hundred miles away. If we ever get into the National Division I'll try to get to as many away games as I can to begin with, but if we're there for a few seasons I suspect I'll soon tire of the travelling and will begin watching other non-league clubs matches closer to home, in which case I may end up getting attached to a particular club. But this is the reality of modern football and we can't just opt to remain at the current level otherwise we won't get the best manager r players and we'll end up going backwards. Personally I've already got my season ticket for the next four years, and I can't see myself not anting to renew it again.
    pompeydunc likes this.
  23. Pink Panther

    Pink Panther Well-Known Member

    My interpretation of what was said is that it was new shares issued or loans converted to shares, as opposed to existing shares changing hands.

    As someone with little grasp of how shares work, I just go on the basis that if I'm buying something someone else must be selling it.
  24. Monkeygrinder's Organ

    Monkeygrinder's Organ Dodgy geezer swilling vapid lager

    I think what's missing in the point about ambition/crowds/potential ceilings etc is prices. It's fine to say we've got crowds that are equivalent to some lower level league teams, but we have admission prices at not that much more than half the price and so actual income is going to be much lower. General misgivings about higher level football aside I think that's a key point - if we're aspiring to that sort of level at some point prices will have to rise substantially and that's not something I'd like to see.
    Moroccan Sunset and Pink Panther like this.
  25. Cyclodunc

    Cyclodunc Where's the slam tent, mate?

    The get on with it comment was about improvements to current terracing to help supporters see games when it’s crowded. It wasn’t about the new ground.
  26. Roger D

    Roger D Well-Known Member

    Another point about promotion is that as much money came through the bar as the turnstiles in the figures cited above. Move up one step and alcohol restrictions kick in so we'd presumably see a potentially substantial dip in match day revenue there.

    I no longer live locally and only see Hamlet occasionally. That will continue irrespective of the level of football so I'll stay out of the main debate however the impact on a big revenue stream needs to be taken into consideration.

    FYI it was £20 to sit and £18 to stand at Aldershot last season. They have warned the fans they will lose about £300k on the season despite the above prices
    StephenMac and Pink Panther like this.
  27. Matt The Cab

    Matt The Cab Live it like you love it

    That was my understanding. As in "if we want it ready for the pre-season games at home and the new season we should get on with it"
  28. Pink Panther

    Pink Panther Well-Known Member

    That makes more sense. I think we all heard that!
  29. pompeydunc

    pompeydunc Well-Known Member

    Apologies - my misunderstanding. I think I was distracted at this point by Mike Dean celebrating Tranmere's win over Forest Green at this point, by standing on the barriers in the Tranmere end.
  30. Griff_Turnstile

    Griff_Turnstile Agenda confused turnstile operator

    Thanks. Hopefully the shareholders list should be updated then as the last published one is still out of date.

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