Dorchester Town Youth chief says money will not be swallowed up if Magpies become community-owned (From Dorset Echo)
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Dorchester Town Youth chief says money will not be swallowed up if Magpies become community-owned
THERE will be no “black holes” to swallow up the money his club has raised over the years if Dorchester Town becomes community-owned.
That is the message from Dorchester Town Youth FC chairman Lloyd Spracklen whose club would join forces with the Magpies and Community Trust if the proposed venture gets the green light.
Spracklen’s assurance comes after fears over the youth’s finances were raised on message boards and on the Echo’s own website.
But the view from the youth’s chairman was clear – if their money is used in any new enterprise it will not be spent on the running costs of the club, which is looking for a more sustainable future.
Also, according to Spracklen, his organisation has been given assurances by Magpies’ chairman Shaun Hearn, who has agreed in principle to hand over his majority shareholding to the trust, with respect to his club’s financial position.
“We have received assurances from club chairman Shaun Hearn in respect of the club’s financial position, which will be confirmed when the Community Trust completes the process of due diligence,” Spracklen told Echosport.
“One of the things we are really keen to do is make sure the club runs sustainably into the future at the absolute best level it can.”
He added: “There will definitely not be any black holes where money can easily disappear into.”
As the process of due diligence continues, Echosport put to Spracklen some of the key questions as far as the youth set-up is concerned.
Q: What is the Youth club’s general take on the handover?
A: Dorchester Town Youth FC (DTYFC), in principle, is very excited by the prospect of Dorchester Town Football Club becoming community owned.
Q: Why do you feel that way?
A: We believe that community ownership creates long-term, deep and sustainable relationships with key strategic partners within the community.
This will undoubtedly create stability within the club, something that has always been lacking in the past.
Q: Why do you think it’s a good time for it to happen?
A: The current chairman, Shaun Hearn, has worked tirelessly and has given his all for the cause over the last couple of years.
The economic climate is such where it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to sustain this level of football on his own.
We feel now is the time for the football club, supporters, Community Trust and DTYFC to all pull together to protect the long-term wellbeing of the club.
Q: How will it benefit the youth?
A: For the first time in our history, DTYFC will be part of the ownership structure of Dorchester Town Football Club and will have an influence on the future direction the club takes moving forward.
This will make all our players very much a part of a local football pyramid giving each and every one an incentive and the aspiration to one day, if they choose to and prove good enough, become a first-team player. The future development which is planned will give us a hub for youth activities as well as other functions.
Q: Are there any drawbacks from your point of view?
A: We see no real drawbacks at this stage, only negativity and a complete lack of forward thinking by a small handful of people who want to see it fail.
There will be difficult times ahead. We do not know all the answers but the critics do not offer an alternative. We have a solid core of volunteers who work hard for DTYFC and will work for a community club.
Q: Will there be any obvious changes to the youth section as a result?
A: None that anyone will notice. We will still have our working committee, ie general secretary, mini soccer secretary etc. Managers will not be directly affected by what’s going on.
We have to adapt to change all the time, new rule changes come into youth football every year, some good some bad, but we accept them and get on with it.
People sometimes view change by the impact it has on their finances but DTYFC are arguably the cheapest club to play for around here.
Yes, fees do go up but generally every two years. There was no increase last year.
Q: What part has the youth club had in negotiations?
A: DTYFC has been heavily involved in all negotiations with the football club board and the Community Trust. We are all working extremely hard in a partnership to come up with a plan that has the best interests of all parties.
Q: Did you ask your members first if they wanted to go into this? If not, why?
A: We have had managers’ meetings and openly discussed the possibility of community ownership.
The managers have been kept informed of advanced negotiations and have been invited to air any concerns or give us any feedback. So far, it’s been positive.
Q: Was there a vote on it? If not, will there be?
A: We are not in a position to vote on anything yet as there is still a great deal of discussion to be had.
Once we have all the information we will present it to the managers and hear what they have to say before we make any decision.
Q: How has the youth club been run up until now?
A: DTYFC is one of only six Chartered Standard community clubs in Dorset, run by a committee of volunteers who give up many hours of their free time organising and managing one of the largest and most successful youth football clubs in the area.
We currently have more than 30 football teams with nearly 500 local boys and girls in age groups from seven years to under-18s.
We currently have three girls’ teams, a number we will be looking to increase in the very near future. Nominated as a Charter Standard club of the year in the South West region, we are very proud of our achievements.
Q: Are there concerns about the state the club is in with the team struggling and players leaving?
A: We have received assurances from Shaun Hearn in respect of the club’s financial position, which will be confirmed when the Community Trust completes the process of due diligence.
One of the things we are really keen to do is make sure the club runs sustainably into the future at the absolute best level it can.
There are a lot of clubs out there in a worse position financially than Dorchester. As for players leaving, the question is a little misleading as loan players do not leave they return to the clubs they belong to when their loan spell finishes.
Q: Would you still be prepared to be part of the handover if the club was relegated?
A: Of course we would without question.
Q: You’ve built up a solid organisation – will any money or assets owned by the youth club go into the whole set-up as it were?
A: The financial details of community ownership are still at an early stage. One thing DTYFC and the Community Trust are in complete agreement on is that if any DTYFC money is used, it will not be used on running costs – that’s not sustainable.
We’ll certainly ensure that if we invest any money in the club it will be on something that we’ve all agreed to and that benefits DTYFC, the community and the club. I really think getting the club stable and sustainable has to be the first priority before looking to spend any money on projects.
There will definitely not be any black holes where money can easily disappear into.
Q: Would money raised by you therefore become the club’s money as it were?
A: The money has been raised by running a football tournament for the past 12 years and setting aside the surplus. The DTYFC committee and a few dedicated managers and parents have been responsible for running this tournament.
The purpose of this money is for a permanent home for DTYFC. Surplus money from fees paid by DTYFC players goes into funding coaches’ qualifications, training equipment and day-to-day running costs.
Q: Would, in effect, the Youth be disbanded to come under the Dorchester Town FC umbrella? Would it go by the same name?
A: The youth will not be disbanded if it came under the umbrella of DTFC. It is fair to say that all parties involved will have to make some sacrifices and changes. If it was in the interest to change the name to say Dorchester Town FC Youth then I could not see that as a deal breaker but at this moment in time no decision has been made.
Q: One of the messages on the Echo website said the handover would be “suicide” for the youth club. How do you react to that?
A: Anonymous people who post on message boards or websites tend to say a lot but rarely are they privy to the processes involved. Although their comments can be used loosely as an indicator of how they feel as an individual, they do not generally represent a majority viewpoint.
Q: Are you confident the process of due diligence will go smoothly?
A: We have every confidence that the due diligence process being conducted by the Community Trust and the experts working with them will be done thoroughly. We have no reason to believe that there are show stoppers lurking. If there are we have no doubt they will be discovered and dealt with accordingly.
It has to be right for everyone involved or it will not happen.