Report by Harry Taylor
The second of the seasons fans forum's saw a groundbreaking milestone for KHIST when it was announced that Karl Davies would join the Kidderminster Harriers board as a KHIST representative. This accomplishes an aim that the supporters trust has held for many years and will see Davies join the board on a six month trial basis.
This was one of the many revelations that came out of the evening, ideas such as initiatives to increase the gate, how to increase the profile in the community and how to increase income. But one of the most interesting points of the night was in terms of what happened with Chris Swan's failed take-over of the club. Seemingly, to everyone on the Thursday, they fully expected him to complete the take-over of the club until he found a phantom debt of £165,000. So called a 'phantom debt' as Joe Hancox, now accountant now at Kidderminster Harriers, has gone through the books and cannot find the money that Swan was on about. The best was yet to come as it then arose that Swan had a dispute with KHIST and said he would 'break' KHIST as the attitude of the supporters trust was not to his liking.
This coming from the man whose grandfather had apparently stood on the terraces many moons ago.
It wasn't over yet, as when the club was about to plunge into a CVA, Swan advised the club to declare itself insolvent, drop a few leagues and then contact Swan again. If there was ever any proof needed that he shouldn't be involved in football clubs then that would be it. Add to this that KHFC then owed Thursfield's money as their lawyers were on standby all day for the fax to go through with the details for them to process. The fax never came and fortunately for us they waived any monies owed and they have to be thanked for that.
The evening was kicked off by Mark Serrell, now looking in better health, with a break down of financial matters including how the money was split up that 'saved' the club last month. £110,000 of £152,000 that has come in was through donations from loyal fans. Another set of thanks has to go out to them for helping to secure the future of our football club. The club then stated the shortfalls at the end of the season to the Brewery and trade debts, amounting to a total of £84,000 at most, with just under ¾ of that being to the Brewery. He then stated what the aims of the board were and that they wanted to increase season ticket holders next year. Those details would be released soon.
Then followed a multitude of questions to Harriers boss Steve Burr who outlined his commitment to the club following the turning down of an approach from Grimsby Town in the last few days. He is also meeting Mark Serrell in the near future about his plans for next season and with a view to extend his contract. Finally a forward thinking, positive board!
In relation to players, it was revealed that the club will enter talks with a few players in a view to extend their contracts, that Sean Canham has extended his deal until the end of the season and that a player may be joining the Harriers on loan, on Monday, costing the club nothing. Burr is also impressed with the step-up that Callum Gittings has made considering he was playing for Alvechurch last season.
The last notable question to Steve Burr was about Chris McPhee's contract being extended in the summer. Burr said ideally he'd like to extend his deal but Chris has 'irons in the fire' with clubs closer to home.
There was then a brief intermission with food provided by Brian Murdoch free of charge, followed by a speech from the man himself about his time at the club. One feels it may have been a farewell speech.
Following this there was another short presentation by Mark Serrell and questions to himself. During this presentation it was revealed that next season there will be two new bands in operation for season ticket holders - 'Over 60' and 'School leavers/Young adults' which could only be a good thing, especially making sure that once young fans leave the U-16 bracket they will be able to keep going at a slightly higher rate. Also if we do manage to get back into the football league via the playoffs, ticket prices will increase.
From questions via email, or from the floor, it was made known that the club was around two hours from entering a CVA and all of the board emphasised that it will never hopefully happen again. There are also six people interested in involvement in KHFC in one form or another in terms of investment. This is good to see now that we are debt free and can now can move forward with them if they come on board.
Then arose the issue of the points deduction and why it happened. The accounts submitted to the conference were from John Baldwin and said that we owed no tax or NI to the Inland revenue, this was on three accounts for which we were pulled up for and punished. The club then found a fourth which we made the league aware of to show honesty and they decided not to punish us further due to that honesty and restored some of our credibility along the way.
It was also made clear that Aggborough Holdings is still in existence and the commission that we are owed from Just Sport for the club shop is yet to be received from them. £13,000 worth of merchandise has been sold this year and we are due 20% of it. That shows how much this outlet would mean to the club.
George Rolls was then discussed in the final major point of the night, and that he offered £80,000 with no obligations with it when we were in our huge financial mire. However the board didn't take this up but did instead accept his offer of giving us some help. He found that there was nothing fundamentally wrong, and said that the board would be 'crazy' to sell the club. Maybe he wassn't so bad after all!
And finally, in closing, Karl Davies in answering one of his first questions on the top table said something that I think sums up how we all feel about the Harriers.
"This is no fleeting love affair, there is no divorce. This is my football club"
And following the events so far this year those are the sorts of feelings that have been re-enforced and perhaps kept the club alive.