STATEMENT | Weekly update, including response to recent petition

Please find our latest weekly communication below, including an update on the questions submitted for WST election candidates and the Trust’s response to a petition handed in last month.

You can read all of our recent weekly communications here.

Season Ticket Refunds

An update will go out to season ticket holders next week. We are combining it with the AGM notices in order to save on postage. Every penny counts.

Questions for Election Candidates

We have already received some questions for candidates from our request last week. Please feel free to submit your questions to secretary@wst.org.uk.

We are looking for a maximum of 20 questions and they must be questions that every candidate can answer. We have had these submitted so far.

  • One of the fundamental objects of the Trust is to ‘uphold the mutual ownership of the Club operating democratically, fairly and transparently. Is this something that you endorse, or are you seeking change?
  • What is your opinion on the Trust’s borrowing powers? Should they be reserved for clearly resolvable cash flow issues, or perhaps be more ambitious, to assist with a promotion push, for example, that might put long-term objectives at risk?
  • What is your understanding of the term ‘outside investment’ and do you think the Trust should be actively seeking such?
  • Under the current Trust Rules, the sale of the Football Club is not permitted, since such would be in direct conflict with objects of the Trust. Is this something you feel needs to be changed, and the sale of the Club to be actively encouraged?
  • Do you have any experience of sitting on the Governing Boards, Committees, focus groups or such like, of any organisation?
  • As you are no doubt aware, all positions on the WST Board are voluntary and unpaid. How much time do you feel that you are able to commit to the position on a weekly or monthly basis?
  • What skills or attributes do you possess that you feel will be of particular value to the running of the WST?
  • What do you think is the best way to attract good people, with the requisite skills to join the football Club Board, and should certain posts become Executive positions? If so, what amount or percentage should be set aside from the annual budget to account for these positions?
  • The WST Board have acknowledged that better communication with Members is necessary, to explain decisions, bring about change etc. What ideas do you have around this that might facilitate progress?
  • Members can currently be co-opted onto the Operational Board, ostensibly to provide expertise in areas where there is a recognised need. Do you agree with this approach, and do you have any further ideas that might complement this method?

Response to a recent petition

We recently received a petition from a member, Jack Scott, calling for changes in the running of the Football Club and the WST. Following a review of the contents it was clear that the majority of demands were not in line with our Constitution and rules.

We have replied by email to Mr Scott and, in the interests of openness and for the information of those who signed the petition, the response is below.

The board recognise the petition as a symptom of frustration at our current performance but it offered no positive solutions. The requests in the petition could not have been adopted by the Board as they ran counter to our democratic processes.

In fact, the actions suggested could not be adopted by any Board as they would lead the Society open to prosecution for a breach of its rules.

Hi Jack,

Thank you for your E Mail of the 14th May.

I have draughted quite a long response because you raise many different subjects and a full explanation is needed.

There are several issues arising from your petition which I will address later but firstly the WST Board recognises the frustrations felt by supporters at this seasons performance and by our continued presence in the National League. Despite coming close to promotion several times under Trust Ownership, we have not yet achieved our objective of a return to the EFL and is obviously a matter of concern to all of us as fans.

In fact the WST are currently involved in a process of reviewing our Constitution and Policies. You may have seen reference to this in our weekly update. I believe that many positive changes will come out of this process and that both the Society and the Club will be stronger and more accountable as a result.

Which brings me to your submitted petition.

A bit of background information would probably be in order to help explain the situation better.

The WST is a SPORTS CLUB COMMUNITY MUTUAL organisation formed under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965. We have a constitution and various policies which govern the way that we must operate and our Board Members are bound to follow these rules. If Board Members deviate from these rules then they may be liable to prosecution.

I have included a link to the various policies at the end of this e mail, and, although they are very dry reading they give us a solid framework for conducting the affairs of the Society and any businesses it owns, which of course includes Wrexham AFC. I would encourage you to take some time to read them.

Your petition, on the whole, falls outside of the Constitution Of the Society in that it calls for “change” via unconstitutional means. If Board members were to act on your demands they would be acting outside the limits of their authority and could potentially expose the WST to legal action.
Let me give you some examples.
You call for the removal of named individuals from the WST Board and for the Board itself to stand down. Firstly, let me say that I deplore this action as an un-necessary and intimidatory action. To actively pursue individuals and behave in this way is not in keeping with the spirit and the ethos of the Society. No individuals make independent decisions and accountability for the big decisions taken by the Football Club do not rest with individuals but the collective whole. The fact is that people are elected by members at an AGM and serve the Society until such time as they are voted out by the membership.

We have an election policy which covers the elections and a large part of the Constitution also covers this. In a democratic organisation there is no provision to remove elected members by way of a petition. Nor should there be.

This might sound pedantic but our structures are what gives the WST its credibility. We are currently involved in talks with the National League, the FAW, the WAG, Wrexham Council, and Glyndwr University (amongst others) around a range of different topics. Why would these organisations spend time dealing with a rogue entity that has abandoned its democratic principles?

Your proposal would jettison a large part of our constitution but you have no suggestions as to what would replace it. That is a pretty fundamental consideration and perhaps you should give that issue more thought.

Moving on to the other points raised.

Under our Constitution certain powers are delegated to the Club Board, the WST Board and Members. These areas are currently subject to a review and many Members have fed into the process. I do not wish to prejudge the outcomes but I expect there to be changes in the relationships between the three parties.

Under our current structure the responsibility for the provision of training facilities and the appointment of manager is a delegated responsibility to the Club Board. I do not see any change to this in any new structure. Again your petition cuts across this and is seemingly intent on creating a different set of rules.

Groves Project.
You may recall that members are asked for approval when major strategic decisions are made and I refer you to the decision to bid for the club 10 years ago and more recently to take on the lease of the Racecourse . ​On both occasions the then Society Board called a Special general meeting of the Society giving the power to the membership to either proceed or not with both proposals.

As part of this process Heads of terms are usually agreed but the Society inserts a clause that it is subject to approval of membership. The Society follow this process as it allows the membership to consider the key clauses before deciding to proceed or not rather than holding an SGM to proceed or not to proceed without this information

The proposed training ground at the Groves will come before the membership to decide shortly and would have done so a few months ago if it were not for the present circumstances due to COVID-19. You give no reason for your objection to this project and nor do you have to. However, the clock is ticking on Nine Acres and we need somewhere for our team to train in the years to come. The Groves has been earmarked following a review of potential facilities across the town and it is safe to say that alternative venues are in short supply. It would be constructive if you could suggest an alternative facility or indeed how you see the club training its’ players once Nine Acre is no longer available.

Dean Keates
I am not sure what you want to see happen here. I am pretty certain that you do not wish to see the appointment of a Manager decided by an X Factor type poll. You might remember when Ebbsfleet United were owned by myfootballclub.com where decisions on transfers and such matters where made in this way. It is my view that such a move would put Wrexham AFC at a significant disadvantage and be a source of embarrassment to fans and owners alike.

Gateway Process
You do not suggest what changes you would like to see in this policy. The policy itself was introduced in 2018 and approved by the membership. Some alterations were suggested at last years AGM and they were rejected by the membership.

As a member you have the right to propose any measure you would like to see to alter this policy. However you do not have the right to demand unspecified changes to a policy that has twice been voted on by the membership. The elected board does not have that right either. Only the membership has that right and that right can only be exercised at an AGM.

I have gone on a bit here but I think it is important that the issues that you raise are tackled. In summary nobody has the right to agree to your demands apart from our membership.

There will be a chance for Members to discuss, and vote, on the Groves project but if you really want to stop this project I think you will need to suggest a credible alternative. We have to have somewhere for the players to train.

Similarly with the Gateway Process. You will need to specify what changes that you would like to see and how it would impact the Process. The more information that you can provide then the better chance that our members can make an informed decision.

The other proposals would require a change of WST rules before they could be brought forward as resolutions. You will need to identify the rules which block your proposals and persuade the Members to vote to delete them from the Constitution. You will also have to propose an alternate to the Constitution that Members can approve so that we have a workable structure.

I have to tell you that changes to the Constitution require a majority of 75% in order to pass and that is a big ask. That might seem harsh but there is a sound operational principle behind this. It ensures that all changes are supported by a clear majority of the Membership. This means we can avoid schisms and move forward together.

I suggest that your best way forward is to suggest workable resolutions that can be put to the Members of the Society at an AGM. I would be happy to advise you on the Constitutional requirements around this.

If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Regards,
Lindsay Jones
Acting Secretary

WST Policies: https://wst.org.uk/wp/?wpdmcategory=wst_policies