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Issue 085. March 29, 2021.
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Ian Savage (York)

I find it quite interesting to read that several contributors are expressing surprise that JMP are charging 11% on some of the money that they have lent to YCFC.  

This was openly explained to all Supporters' Trust members in 2006 when they were asked to vote on handing over 75% ownership to JMP, and yet a huge majority voted in favour of doing so anyway. 

At that time, myself and a group of like-minded supporters, under the banner of "The Friends of Bootham Crescent" (FoBC) campaigned against the proposal - not because of any personal dislike of the McGill family (far from it) but because it was simply a bad deal for York City FC, and other options had not been properly investigated.  

We were deeply concerned that one single person having unfettered control was a bad idea (especially when it was a person who had already assumed de facto control and was already running the club at an apparently deliberate loss, to engineer the situation that forced the vote in the first place).  

We didn't even know at that point, that Jason had no intention of honouring many of his obligations that he made as part of that agreement, and would go on to tell the Supporters' Trust to take him to court if they didn't like it, and to refuse to communicate with them except through solicitors.  

Obviously, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and this contribution probably just sounds like an exercise in "I told you so".  

However, I do wonder what percentage of ST members would have been willing to hand controlling interest in YCFC to JMP Ltd, had they known that Jason would go on to quite deliberately run up almost £10m of debt, while taking us to the lowest point in our history on the pitch, with little expectation that things might improve?  

And all of that is before you even start to consider the various faux-pas that the club has made, and terrible communications and relationship with the supporters that have been in place in recent years.   

I think the comments coming out this week though, indicate that many members did not properly consider what they were actually voting for in 2006.  

Nobody made a secret that a tranche of money was going to be borrowed by the club at 11% interest, and indeed FoBC were told by many people to stop complaining about that very point - even to the extent of some people suggesting that we were endangering the future of the club by encouraging members to vote against the proposal.   

Of course, Jason is on record as having said that he does not intend to actually take the interest on any of the loans, and it seems unlikely that there would be enough equity remaining in Bootham Crescent anyway, to enable payment of any interest, and hence the actual rate of interest being charged is pretty much irrelevant.  

Presumably, it will stay on the balance sheet after the sale of the ground, perhaps to be used as a negotiating point for any forthcoming sale of the club. 

Clubs call for vote of no confidence in National League board

By Joe Richardson 

NATIONAL League clubs have been asked to support a vote of no confidence in the league's board.

The call comes shortly after 17 clubs across all three divisions of the league were fined for failing to fulfil fixtures.

Acting as spokespersons, Maidstone United of the National League South, seconded by Dorking Wanderers, have proposed in a letter to clubs at Steps 1 and 2 that an extraordinary general meeting be called to hold the vote.

Clubs have until Wednesday to provide their backing.

The Press understands that York City will not add their support to the letter.

In the letter, 11 instances of what the clubs call "questionable governance" are detailed.

Chief among the examples is the "announcement of sweeping fines and sanctions for clubs, who for differing reason have not been able or willing to fulfil fixtures in an exceptionally tough, Covid-ravaged environment," the letter reads. "The decision smacks at best of insensitivity, at worst of punishing clubs for their good governance."

Among the other grievances the letter highlights are the resolutions vote which, it says, clubs were "deeply unhappy about" and "should not have been necessary"; a lack of transparency and communication, including that over the findings from an independent review of the distribution of grants from last October; chairman Brian Barwick being "hardly seen or heard in public for several months"; and failing "to provide adequate information to clubs on the true funding situation" last year, when clubs were under the impression more grants were on the way.

"Football at our level is in a major crisis at present," the letter reads. "Although the terrible Covid pandemic is at the origin of the problems, the management of the crisis by the National League board has been inadequate from the beginning. It is now the subject of widespread anger and ridicule.

"Our National League clubs are professional businesses upon which thousands of staff and tens of thousands of supporters depend. We deserve better governance.

"While it is not the perfect solution, we feel that calling an extraordinary general meeting of the Football Conference Limited to have a debate on the past year's management of the NL board is a necessary first step along the road to better governance.

"We are therefore proposing to call an EGM in order to hold a vote of no confidence in the chairman and the board.

"If the motion is passed, it will oblige resignations and new elections will have to be held."

The National League has been approached for a right of reply.

The league and its members have been mired in discontent since the first wave of coronavirus-relief funding in October last year, when clubs questioned what some saw as an unfair distribution of a £10million pot of National Lottery money.

This was swiftly followed by further anger in November when clubs - who had received the National Lottery £10m as grants - bridled at the proposal that the next tranches of Government support would be largely administered as loans. Clubs had held the belief that more grants were on the way.

The furore rumbled on into the New Year, when the National League imposed a fortnight's pause on playing activity at Step 2 on January 22, a week before distributing resolutions to consider the end of the season on which clubs would vote before the end of February.

In the interim between the pause ending on January 5 and the resolutions vote result being declared on February 18, a number of clubs - citing public health and financial concerns - refused to fulfil fixtures.

Proceedings took an even more surreal turn when Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter claimed that it would be against the league's own rules to take on the Government's loans as part of the Sports Winter Survival Package. The National League's interim general manager Mark Ives said in the following days that "we need to ensure by taking the loans in the format they stand, the clubs aren't inadvertently breaking league rules".

Last week, National League North outfit Bradford (Park Avenue) announced they had been hit with a £2,000 fine for not fulfilling their fixtures. From York's division, Blyth, Farsley, Southport, Darlington, Gateshead and Kettering have also made their fines public.

Dover are the highest-ranked of the casualties. They have said they will play no further in this National League season - and have been presented with a £40,000 bill, a 12-point deduction for the start of next term and had their results expunged from this campaign.

More clubs at Steps 1 and 2 receive Government funding

By Joe Richardson

A FURTHER 20 clubs across Steps 1 and 2 are set to receive funding of loans and grants worth £6.8million, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has confirmed.

The clubs receiving the funding - which comes as part of the Government's Sports Winter Survival Package - were not named.

It follows the Government announcing an initial 19 clubs from Steps 1 and 2 had been offered loan packages worth up to £5.4m on February 19.

In total, clubs have now been provided with support of £11.5m through this package.

Meanwhile, Steps 3 to 6 of the National League System have been awarded a further £3.1m of grant support, following on from the £10m grant funding announced on January 27.

This will bring the total support for the 880 clubs at Steps 3 to 6 to up to £13.1m.

York City strike deal with ex-Football League defender

By Harry Mail

Former Barrow and Lincoln City man Sean Newton has agreed to stay with York City for next season. 

The Minstermen’s official club website has announced that he has extend his contract for the 2021/22 campaign.

Newton, who is 32 years old, has been a key player for York since joining them in 2016 from Wrexham.

Steve Watson’s have also struck deals with ex-Newport County full-back Scott Barrow and former Huddersfield Town youngster Olly Dyson, amongst others.

Newton had spells at Chester City and Droylsden before Barrow snapped him up in 2009. The Bluebirds were in the Conference Premier when he rocked up at Holker Street but he struggled for opportunities in Cumbria, playing just four times before they let him leave for AFC Telford.

He was signed by Stockport County three years later and spent two seasons with the North West club before Lincoln City swooped in to land him in 2013.

Newton was a regular for the Imps in the National League and scored 10 goals from left-back during his year-and-a-half playing at Sincil Bank.

He was loaned out to Notts County in League One towards the end of his time at Lincoln and eventually left in 2015 to join Wrexham.

York signed him four years ago and he will be staying for a fifth season after penning a new deal.
We catch up with news of former York City players, managers and staff.

Ex-City 'keeper signs again for Harriers

 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS
Manager Russ Penn has tied up another member of his squad for the future with goalkeeper Luke Simpson the latest to extend his stay with Harriers.

The shot-stopper arrived here towards the end of pre-season last summer and enjoyed a solid start to his career in Worcestershire.

Six early clean sheets helped establish him as the Aggborough No.1, and Simpson is now on board for the 2021/22 season having penned extended terms.

Boss Penn said: “Luke came here to get himself regular, first team football and I know how much he’s enjoyed it so far – I’m delighted to get him signed up.”

* Simpson played three games for York City between 2016-18 and has since been under contract at Macclesfield Town, Tamworth, Wrexham, Barrow and Kidderminster.
A round-up of news from York City's rival Vanarama National League (North) clubs.

The National League let Chester FC and the rest down again - enough is enough

By Dave Powell

Here's a few things which aren't fit for purpose; my jeans after lockdown, my slippers after lockdown and my scales after lockdown (they continue to be wrong).

Did I mention the National League? Well, yeah, them. The National League.

I'm reluctant to hammer folk who are trying to do their best in trying times but the bods who have conspired to cook up this latest omnishambles and dump it on the door of their member clubs would have been the straw that broke the camel's back, had the camel not had his back broken several times already these last 12 months.

When it comes to navigating the financial mess of a pandemic and trying to keep the wheels moving towards some kind of positive outcome then you could be forgiven for people taking a few missteps.

The problem is that the National League have made more missteps than an all-day reveller at Chester Races trying to walk up the Northgate Street cobbles in high heels at 11.30pm to queue up for Rosie's.

Nobody has been able to consult the manual as to how best to manage football through a pandemic, and there are no YouTube tutorials. But having a modicum of common sense and a shred of integrity are things that you shouldn't need to look up.

From the off this has been an absolute kaleidoscope of either indecision or terrible decisions and it has been enough to leave some member clubs on the brink because of the direct actions of those whose duty it is to make sure that they are looked after.

Even though Doc Brown would tell Marty McFly to NEVER EVER put 2020 into the DeLorean, lets's kick the flux capacitor into action and zip back 12 months to the start of our annus horribulus.

Murmurings of this mysterious virus had been bubbling since the start of 2020, but aside from not shaking hands before games little had changed by the start of March 2020.

Despite the Premier League and EFL postponing their schedules the National League left it to clubs to decide what they felt best, with some proceeding in the hope of making a final few quid until God knows when and others taking the view that it was wrong to take such risk, Chester FC among them, with the Blues postponing their scheduled clash with Boston United on March 14, 2020.

Some games went ahead that weekend, with a deadly virus circulating, with some games seeing over 5,000 in attendance. But with the National League placing the burden of the decision on the shoulders of clubs fearing a long period without cash it isn't surprising.

The wait went on and points per game decided the fate of the champions of the National League, National League North and National League South while the play-offs did get the go ahead, with Chester managing to compete after the players agreed to play for free and the fans dipped in their pockets to help out.

That fan help led to them raising over £100,000 for the playing budget ahead of the 2020/21 season, a season that clubs were assured would get the go ahead and be able to be completed, despite the absence of fans, because help was on the way financially in the form of grants.

And so clubs agreed in good faith that National League would be true to their word and that financial aid was on the way. And so the season started, a season that was built on lies.

The first issues cropped up in October when the grant distribution was revealed.

Some clubs did well from it. Three month funding packages of £90,000, £108,000, £252,000 and £285,000, but despite some clubs in the sixth tier having average crowds of 2,700 the previous season they got £144,000 less than some clubs whose attendances averaged around 400 in the league above.

In December the National League's chief executive, Michael Tattersall, announced he was to leave his post at the end of the month.

And so January arrives.

COVID-19 infection rates and deaths are rising at a frightening level and it becomes harder and harder to envisage that the season will be able to be completed as was planned given the amount of games being called off each weekend owing to positive cases of the virus.

But don't worry, lads. Remember those grants? We'll be sound, yeah?

Well, actually, no. No you won't.

It transpired that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in their meetings with the National League had never said that the second tranche of funding would arrive in the form of grants, it would be through loans, grants only afforded in exceptional circumstances.

And while, yes, they were loans that were favourable when you compare them to a bank they were still loans, ones that would be saddled with clubs for a long time to come.

Chester, owing to their constitution as a fan owned football club, cannot take on debt and loans would have been out of the question. There is no credit facility for them to call upon, they simply took the word of the League that all was in hand. So did many others.

The National League were adamant that they heard someone say grants in the meeting with the DCMS, something that Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said happened 'at no stage'.

Well, maybe we could just see the minutes of those meetings to clear this whole mess up then? That would be the easiest solution then we could just crack on and get past this.

BBC journalist Ollie Bayliss, who has done a masterful job of holding the National League's feet to the fire over this whole sorry saga, placed a Freedom of Information Request to the DCMS to ask to see the minutes of the meeting between the two parties, or at least to have it confirmed that a meeting took place.

The old Section 35 defence was wheeled out and Ollie was stonewalled. Apparently it was questionable whether it was in the public interest to make such matters known.

Righto.

What is questionable is how 66 clubs were given assurances that they would be able to undertake the season based on the promise that grant funding would be available. They signed players, took season ticket money and planned accordingly. They had to.

And guess what, it's all unfolding.

A number of clubs decided they were unable to complete some fixtures, with many saying they could not afford to continue if the money was to arrive in the form of loans not grants.

Dover Athletic made their position very clear that they would be one of those. Now they have had their results expunged and been landed with a £40,000 fine by the National League for their failure to complete their fixtures.

Wait. What?

So in the middle of a pandemic where clubs were given false assurances that they would be receiving the necessary funds the National League are fining them?

Well, yes!

Seventeen clubs across the National League's three divisions have been handed fines totalling around £100,000. Clubs with no income, who started the season under false hope, handed more financial hardship by the organisation that misled them and is supposed to look after them.

The National League board, who during this whole mess had been praising members of their board for their OBE's, have hung these clubs out to dry, and instead of seeking to help them are implementing financial penalties.

The whole thing is rotten.

Chester, this week, were turned down for their application to Sport England for financial help from their Winter Survival Fund because they had a cash reserve (built up by fan donations) and they operated in the black (they have to).

Chesterfield, for example, have been approved for a loan from Sport England for £1m. Chesterfield who went on a signing spree during the pandemic and furloughed the players they no longer needed for the first team.

This isn't a dig at them, they've not fallen foul of any rules and they are doing what is best for them as a business. The issue lies with the fact that this whole mess, and the need for clubs to seek this kind of help, has been created from the horrific mismanagement by the National League board.

Now National League clubs are discussing calling for a vote of no confidence in the League's board and are discussing the potential of holding an EGM.

"The board has very little credibility as an organisation within our clubs," was the view of Dover chairman Jim Parmenter when he resigned from his position on the National League board in protest at their handling of the situation.

A board that bleated about preserving integrity of the competition has shown itself up for being utterly out of touch with many of the clubs that sit within its three divisions.

And when they turn around next season and say it's all fine to crack on, who is going to believe a word they say?

Bradford owner talks Horsfall and National League situation

By Rowan Newman

JUNE 12, 2020 will forever remain a pivotal date in the Bradford (Park Avenue) story. It was the day the club gained a 35-year lease on their Horsfall Stadium home which enabled them to begin major plans of redevelopment.

Despite currently residing in the States, owner Gareth Roberts has always held his hometown close to his heart with giving back constantly at the forefront of his mind.

For the Holme Wood lad, results on the pitch have, at times, played second fiddle to his number one priority of creating a community sporting hub in the city.

With help from the likes of Bradford Council, Sport England, the Football Stadium Improvement fund and the Horsfall Community Trust, the project at the BD6 venue is finally coming into fruition.

Even through the pandemic, the excellent 3G pitch was installed and a security perimeter fence to protect the newfound asset was built.

And the work does not stop there. A hospitality suite, new floodlights, a changing room block and a spruce up of the pavilion are still to come before the end of the year.

Speaking from his office in Dallas on the eve of the stadium reopening on a full-time basis, Roberts said: “The stadium (on matchday) is going to be a five-star experience.

“We want proper cafes, coffee bars, it is not going to be your old-fashioned football stadium.

“In Manchester, there is a sporting hub on every corner, Bradford has all these scattered sports fields and parks. Having this 3G pitch fits right in with the new philosophy of trying to create community sports hubs.

“All this billionaire status is nonsense; I am just someone who believes in Bradford and wants to do something for the city.

“It is kind of sad how it has deteriorated over my lifetime. I don’t like that because I still think there is something special about the place.

“This is a charity project, we have set it up as a Community Interest Company which manages the stadium and handles the different needs of Avenue, West Bowling A.R.L.F.C. and Bradford Airedale Athletics Club.

“It also makes the stadium available to other groups. The Bulls (who have been training at Horsfall recently) like it, we have to throw them out every night."

“We want maximum use for local people who don’t have a lot. I want something that is sustainable.

“I think it will get very busy eventually. Once Covid is over, we can get on with all the little improvements we were trying to make before.”

As far as Avenue’s first team is concerned, Roberts was pleased with the efforts of everyone involved in the difficult 2020-21 season.

The Avenue chief recalled one conversation he had with the Leader of the Labour Party in the aftermath of that thrilling 3-3 draw with Chester.

“I was on a Zoom call with Keir Starmer (Arsenal supporter) and I told him that we were more entertaining than the Premier League game that was going on at the same time.”

Unfortunately, that match against the Seals turned out to be Avenue’s last with their league collapsing because clubs were financially unable to continue without additional grant funding.

Roberts feels change needs to happen to the structure of the National League in the long-term to ensure a situation like this does not occur again.

Speaking before the club were fined, he added: “It has been, as we say over here, a goat rodeo.

“You have to have some management skills to run a football club. Unfortunately, in our league there is a lot of that lacking.

“The problem you have got is we are in the middle of amateur/semi-professional community clubs and aspirational clubs who have been demoted and want to get back there.

“We need to put a divide between the North and South and the National League. The National League is full of clubs that still want to get promoted to the Football League.

“Their requirements are different. If they want to put lots of money into that they can, but that doesn’t work for smaller clubs.”

With Horsfall void of any spectators during the 10 league games, Bradford, like many others, provided fans with live streaming. Roberts thinks this is the future.

He said: “We are planning to live stream the games in any event. It is just sensible. Given the tail end of the virus, we will be able to do that without any problems.

“I think it is coming full-time for the future anyway for clubs at this level. It is ridiculous going down on a coach to Hereford for four hours.

“We can even open the clubhouse, stream it from there and let people have the game day experience.”

It has not just been the stadium itself that has seen improvements, Avenue’s rebranded academy has also grown.

After coming into existence last July, teams from a wide range of age groups have been established and a course for male and female 16-18-year-olds, in conjunction with Bradford College, combining education and football will start in September.

“We had some false starts (with the youth section),” added Roberts.

“It is very hard to find good people, we have been very fortunate in the last year to find Thomas (McStravick).

“We have got a large number of youngsters playing every week on the 3G pitch, that is only going to grow. That is a big plus to the community.

“At the same time, we will get a gradually better first team because we will have more fans and youngsters coming through the ranks, the next Mason Greenwood (Wibsey-born) maybe!”
Gateshead

Gateshead midfielder Danny Greenfield (20) has completed a two-week trial at Sunderland, playing for the Black Cats U-23 side against Wolves and Crystal Palace. Gateshead are waiting to hear if Sunderland will make an offer for the former Manchester United youngster.

Guiseley

Guiseley have signed a new contract with midfielder Lewis Hey (18) after the player had trials with Stoke City and Sunderland. He is currently training with Brentford, along with another Guiseley Academy player, Adam Haw.

Hereford

Hereford have signed Afghanistan international midfielder Maziar Koyhyar (23). His last club was Walsall, where he made 21 appearances between 2016 and 2019, but he has since been out of the game, rehabiltating after a serious knee injury.
York City's squad - updated comings and goings for the current season.
The following information will be updated as new information comes to hand:

Players contracted for the 2021-22 season


Retained from 2020-21 season and contracted for new season: Pete Jameson, Sean Newton, Scott Barrow, Olly Dyson, Akil Wright, Matty Brown.

Under contract last season but future yet to be decided:  Ryan Whitley, Paddy McLaughlin, Reiss Harrison, Charlie Jebson-King,  Harry Spratt, Josh King, Archie Whitfield, Robbie Tinkler, Jack Redshaw, Kieran Kennedy, Michael Duckworth, Harry Bunn, Jake Cassidy, Rob Guilfoyle, Michael Wood, Reon Potts, Owen Gamble, Alex Wollerton, Harry Flatters.
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About TOOAB

There’s Only One Arthur Bottom was first published as an almost-daily email newsletter in July 1997 and has been distributed continuously since. Subscriber numbers peaked at more than 1,100 when the club’s future was threatened by potential closure in 2001 but more than 800 subscribers, living in more than 30 countries, will receive this edition. Editor Josh Easby started the newsletter from New Zealand (where he lives today) but has variously produced and distributed it from the United Kingdom, Australia and (briefly) Italy.
 
Over the years, TOOAB subscribers have variously supported the club in many different ways, using the newsletter at times to share ideas that have helped the club and to raise money which has been used to buy much-needed equipment (for the physio room), sponsor members of the youth team and to sponsor senior players’ kit. Subscribers (who often call themselves ‘Arthurites’) often meet up for pre-match/post-match drinks and have arranged functions together.

Editorial policy

The opinions expressed in There's Only One Arthur Bottom do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher, nor is this newsletter endorsed in any way by York City Football Club.  Wherever possible, the contributions by subscribers are published unaltered.  However submissions will be rejected or amended if they are potentially defamatory or contain language likely to offend other subscribers. Unless good reasons are given, anonymous submissions are rejected. The publisher reserves the right to reproduce contributions to this newsletter on any website associated with the newsletter.



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