Chairman’s Notes - Gloucester City
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Good afternoon and a warm welcome to Blackwell Meadows to everyone connected with Gloucester City for this Vanarama National League North match.
As 2016 is now at a close I thought it would be a good idea to give a summary update of everything which the DFCSG have delivered or been involved in – it’s certainly been a busy 12 months.
But before I do that let me remind you that we currently have an open poll for the proposed playing name change from “Darlington 1883” to “Darlington”. The Football Club Board will be tabling the motion at the forthcoming AGM and the DFCSG is seeking guidance from its members as to how the Group should vote. As we hold a controlling interest in the Football Club the motion will be carried regardless of how other shareholders vote. Once the motion is known it will then be passed to the FA who will make the final decision in time for the beginning of the 2017/8 season. At the time of writing over 530 members have voted and to ensure that you have your say make sure you either visit www.dfcsg.co.uk/vote or fill out a form today on the ground side of the “home” turnstiles. You will need your DFCSG membership number to verify your vote. If you’re not yet a member you can still join for £20 and cast your vote today. Voting closes 26th January.
So, 2016….it was a funny old year – Leicester winning the Premier League, Britain voting to leave the EU and Donald Trump elected President of the USA. The combined odds for these outcomes in excess of 4.5 million to 1! If only one of us had the foresight to place that bet, we’d have secured the Clubs future for many years to come. Thankfully things have been a lot less turbulent for us over the last 12 months.
We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes that not many will be aware of in the second half of 2016 to really define what the DFCSG is, what it does and how it does it. This is the bedrock on which the success of the Group will be based on and allow us to deliver our core function which is to: create an environment which will help Darlington Football Club to succeed. We do this via three distinct pillars:
- Finance, Strategy & Governance
- Community & Supporter Engagement
You’ll hear more about these in 2017, what they cover at a lower level and how YOU can get involved in the work streams that fall out of each pillar to help DFC succeed. For now I will use these pillars to outline the great work the DFCSG has undertaken in 2016.
Finance, Strategy & Governance
As an advocate of the Supporters Direct ownership model one of the objects which DFCSG must adhere to is good governance of the Football Club. John Bell has been instrumental in pulling together a framework for how the Group interacts with the Football Club on a regular basis to ensure the Club Board has the support it needs from us to go about their jobs on a daily basis.
Post Football Club AGM we will have a strong three man Football Club Board with a broad range of skills which we feel will allow the Club to stabilise and grow off the pitch and begin to match the great progress we’ve seen on the pitch.
The DFCSG Board itself acquired new blood at the recent AGM and we now have a full quota of Board members who are all now beginning to pick tasks up and drive the Group forwards.
Through the Community Share offer which was delivered by Neil Raper, John and I we have increased the shareholding of DFCSG in Darlington 1883 Limited resulting in a controlling interest with a voting share of 79% This is important for a number of reasons, the main one being that as a one member one vote body the DFCSG allows all members to have an equal say in the future of our Football Club through a governed, democratic entity.
Fundraising is probably the task that the Group has been best known for and it’s critical to secure the Club’s future that this continues and we keep finding interesting and appealing ways to bring funds into the Group. In 2016 we raised over £130,000 to support the Club and the move back to Darlington.
I’ve already mentioned that the Community Share offer allowed us to increase our voting share in the Football Club to 79% and it also raised in excess of £100,000 which has been loaned to the Club over a 25 year period. £10,000 was raised for the purchase of the dugouts and we have also recently invested over £20,000 of membership money into the Club which will further increase our shareholding after the FC AGM.
Another star of the show is the Fans Lottery which has gone from strength to strength. Colin Tinkler handed the baton over to Sue Connor late last year and with the help of the Board has grown the lottery to now have a monthly prize of £1,000 and two weekly prizes of £50!
It’s been a quiet year on the events front, however both Joanne Cameron and Rob Duncan have been involved in promoting the Club at various community events over the summer and Jo organised the fantastic end of season bash at the Kings Head in May.
Our treasurer Andrew Matthews continues to keep our finances in order, succeeding Colin Tinkler late in the year.
I will be heading up the fundraising pillar going forwards so if anyone wants to get involved please contact me directly – we’ve already got some great ideas for 2017 but the more the merrier!
Community & Supporter Engagement
Our number one objective for 2016 was to increase the membership base – the group is only as strong as its membership. A the beginning of the year we had around 450 members which via a number of initiatives we’ve managed to increase to just under 1,000 almost bang on target. An achievement I’m immensely proud of for so many reasons.After the departure of membership secretary Stuart Ford in the summer, Neil Raper has done a fantastic job handling the large increase we’ve seen, especially over the last three months as the Club neared a return home.
A key aspect of this pillar is volunteering and we have many Board members who not only support the DFCSG but work in a voluntary capacity to support the Football Club. Jo Cameron organises and looks after our superb Corporate Hospitality. Lynn Jasper, Glenn Bowes and Terry Black help run our fantastic retail shop at the Dolphin Centre and help out with matchday operations, whilst Sue Connor can often be spotted hiding in a turnstile and Michael Cansfield’s dulcet tones are broadcast over the airwaves via Darlo Fans Radio.
Board member Mel Prescott will be heading up this pillar going forwards as we look to build on the good work to date and really embed ourselves at the heart of the Darlington community. If this is something that interests you please get in touch with Mel.
I must also mention Angela Raper and Stacey Fletcher who whilst not Board members of DFCSG have pitched in and helped us over the calendar year. There’s much more but I’ve only got a set number of characters. In summary I’ve been really pleased with the Group’s progress in 2016 and am full of optimism for 2017.
Darlington FC Supporters Group