Glovers Trust Chairman Stuart Burrell has provided views on a meeting he attended on Monday afternoon, with one of the prospective owners of the club. The club confirmed yesterday that Scott Priestnall - who was at the meeting - and Errol Pope are the two people behind the takeover discussions that have been in talks with current owner Norman Hayward.
Last week, the Trust wrote to the National League expressing concern about Yeovil Town's takeover attempts in 2019, and the direction of travel the club is heading in. As a result, Priestnall approached the Trust, and asked for a meeting which was attended alongside Supporters Alliance Chairman Rich Rendell. Stuart's views on that meeting are as follows:
"I appreciate that the statement from YTFC provided a level of detail about the identity of the prospective new owners of the Football Club but also left a number of questions unanswered. I therefore wanted to provide some background as to how the meeting came about, details from the meeting itself and, to advise of some actions that we as a Trust Board are following up as a result.
"I received an email over the weekend from Scott Priestnall as a result of the letter that we wrote to the National League last week. He introduced himself and expressed a desire to meet up so that we could discuss some of the concerns that the Trust had raised. He also wished it to remain confidential due to the sensitivity of the ongoing discussions at the time, which the Trust Board respected ahead of the discussion. The meeting was eventually arranged and coordinated via YTFC and took place on Monday at 3.00pm, involving David Mills, Scott Priestnall, Rich Rendell and myself. Towards the end of the meeting Darren Sarll also joined those present.
"Scott started by explaining that the he had expressed a desire to keep the names out of the initial announcement as he wanted things to progress further before doing so in order to try and avoid a situation whereby people know who it is and the deal falls through, citing the Rob Couhig/Mark Palmer experience as an example. He had been in meetings with John Fry and Norman Hayward for most of the afternoon and informed us that discussions were progressing well. He advised that he completed his due diligence and is comfortable with details, it is just now in the hands of solicitors. He felt that all being well, the deal could be concluded as early as two weeks from now. The paperwork for the Owners and Directors Test has been submitted and they are waiting for feedback. He said that Darren Sarll was very much ‘his man’ and that the prospective owners played a significant part in bringing him to the Football Club as Manager.
"I asked 'why Yeovil'? He explained that he had an affection for the area and had been exploring the possibility of owning a football club for around a year. He has known Norman Hayward for around two years and has been watching the developments at Yeovil Town. He has been running and growing businesses for a number of years and feels that there is a lot of potential being the largest football club in Somerset. I asked about the structure of the consortium to which he replied that it wasn't really a consortium in the traditional sense, advising that Errol Pope is the main backer and that Errol had shared his interest in owning a club with potential. No other names were mentioned.
"Both Rich and I highlighted the issues with transparency and engagement that we have suffered for a number of years, citing lack of media interviews, Alliance Group attendance etc. We also highlighted that whilst the managerial appointment had ticked a box for a number of supporters, there were many others who were holding back due to confirmation on the ownership. Collectively we agreed that the Season Ticket discount cut-off date should be pushed back further and David Mills took an action to follow this up. Scott advised that he was more than willing to engage and suggested that he would be open to participating in the Alliance Meetings once things have settled down.
"Darren Sarll then made an appearance and spent 10 minutes or so chatting about his background and that it was the prospective new ownership that brought him in and his belief in them to take the Club forward. He had the players in for training so that he can assess them and continue his task of rebuilding the playing squad.
"Darren then left and we talked about what we could communicate. We agreed that David would draft a statement announcing Scott and Errol and that Rich and I had met with him as soon as possible.
"And that was it – the discussions lasted around 45 minutes in total and then Scott was off to his next meeting! There were some further questions that I wanted to ask such as investment and the possibility of a Trust shareholding, and the Boardroom structure but it didn’t seem the appropriate time. I also recognise that that whilst Jed McCrory's name was not mentioned, there was no explicit confirmation as to his involvement. I have since followed this up with an email to Scott and am calling him today to look to cover off these points. We have also got the name of a contact at Worcester Warriors to discuss their experiences but the contact is currently away so we can't follow this up until Monday at the earliest.
"I will endeavour to feed back further information as I get it and we as a Trust Board are meeting tonight for our monthly meeting so we will certainly discuss further and communicate as appropriate.
"I think it's also important that we look to build up the Trust membership as much as possible to strengthen the voice of the fans as we will hopefully have the opportunity for fresh engagement. We as a Board will continue to bang the drum but if you as members can help too that would be much appreciated."
[From Stuart Burrell, Chairman, Glovers Trust.]
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