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Seven Years Ago (Yesterday)
Seven years ago - Club-Fans "Consultative Meeting" - Extremely Interesting Minutes of the Meeting
Posted on the Official Site, minutes of the recent meeting between representatives from a few QPR (but not LSA) fan groups and the Chairman and other club representatives.
Beyond just the specifics: Exactly what should be happening now: SUBSTANTIVE discussions between club and Fans..
re Parrett's sale: All the million pounds we received, went to pay a tax bill.
Re shiteetu: "so long as he starts (i.e. substitutions do not count) two more games we will get £250,000. After another 25 games, again the club will get another £250,000. And if Watford stay up we'll get £500,000" - (A few months ago Paladini declared we'd be receiving 600,000 pounds in August. )
Re Bills "GP started off by saying that with regards to clearing bills £250,000 is required and that includes the fee for Deloitte and Touche " (A few months ago, the club announced how inexpensive Deloitte and Touche were.)
QPR OFFICIAL SITE - CONSULTATIVE MEETING
QPR Fans Consultative Group Meeting
Tuesday 13th February 2007 - 6pm, The Chairman's Suite, Loftus Road
The following are the minutes taken from the initial QPR fans consultative group meeting, which was held at Loftus Road on the night of Tuesday 13th February. Those in attendance hope that this is of interest to all QPR fans everywhere.
In attendance: Gianni Paladini (GP) Chairman, QPR FC ~ Nick De Marco (NDM) QPR FC legal advisor, and Chair of initial meeting ~ Akin Yilmaz (AK) Club Financial Controller and Company Secretary
~ Pat Harrison (PH) Official Supporters Club ~ Karen Hampshire (KH) Official Supporters Club ~ Tracy Stent (TS) QPR 1st Supporters Trust ~ Stephen Dedridge (SD) QPR 1st Supporters Trust~ Victor Stephenson (VS) Friends of QPR ~ Spencer Schwartz (SS) Friends of QPR.
NDM started the meeting off by asking for introductions from everyone and then advised that whilst it had been thought of as a good idea for each group present to have two representatives present, another rep from both the official supporters club and QPR 1st Supporters Trust would be joining the meeting as they wished to impart their specific input in the areas upon which they are experienced in. Bev, from the official supporters club, who has an understanding and affinity with the club's disabled fans, thus how she would be inputting into the disabled issue only on the agenda; and Geoff from QPR 1st, who is the Trust's treasurer, and who himself is a chartered accountant. The group were informed that Geoff had been in touch with Akin Yilmaz on the Monday to discuss the recently filed company accounts, and again, it was explained his input would be regarding this aspect only.
NDM informed that every item that had been forwarded/sent through from either PH or TS had been put on the agenda. When the issue of minutes arose, it was agreed for TS to take the minutes; when drafted for them to then be circulated amongst those present; and then once approved by those in attendance for them to be posted on the various outlets.
Each item on the agenda was then discussed, which has been covered below.
1. Apologies for absence
2.1 GP to give a summary of where we are and what we are aiming for
GP started off by saying that things need to improve drastically on the football side at the moment, saying that the board has supplied the current manager with players (as they did the other managers) and it is they to whom we should now support.
SS asked if the players had been given five days off and GP said they had three days off, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and that the players were back in training that day (Tuesday). He said he had seen the players and they were embarrassed about what had happened at Southend, as was John Gregory.
When asked by VS about any injuries situation, GP said that Marcus Bignot was recovering and that it was looking positive for Sampsa Timoska.
TS asked if there were any truth in the rumour that John Gregory is going to resign and GP stated "no, not true, he is the manager" before going on to say that Richard Hill has had to be suspended following the China incident; that John Gregory accepts and understands the decision; and that he doesn't know if John Gregory is going to bring in another assistant. The issue of finances for such a position was raised by SD and GP accepted this was true before going on to say that the board obviously wants to be in this division come next season; again stating that they have supported all managers regarding players; that yes, they have trimmed the wage bill by releasing some and then spoke about bringing Lee Camp in on loan, saying it's a good deal and that the board are hopeful that a fresh face behind the defence will give us some extra impetus on the field.
GP went on to say that events on the field are "out of my hands. I cannot play now though even if I did someone would still be talking about Naples" before describing the last week as "the worst week in the life of QPR".
SD explained that he had gathered a few questions from one of the message boards during the afternoon and one of the questions that had been asked and was football related was regarding the Stoke City/FA inquiry and if the club had queried the outcome? GP said they had queried it, they'd had a solicitor representing them and basically there was nothing they could do about the end result.
2.2 Consultation re: next year's season ticket and match day ticket prices
A discussion was then held about next year's season tickets and match day prices. There was agreement that the most vital factor for next year, regardless of which division we are playing in, is the need to boost attendances at Loftus Road. Various suggestions were made including perhaps vouchers being issued with season tickets for a first round cup game. TS presented to GP and AY a document, which consisted of various ideas and suggestions gleaned from supporters looking at not only prices, but also ways to encourage the lapsed fans to return. This document can be viewed on either of the rivals or QPR 1st websites for interest.
AY informed that he is currently looking at projections for both the championship and division one next season, as in an effort to encourage fans to return to Loftus Road thus boosting attendances, the board are working out as to what sort of percentage reduction in prices would be acceptable. GP spoke about possible reductions in all areas of the ground and it was suggested to him that the club does a mail-out to all those supporters on the club's data base that have been season ticket holders for the past four or so years. This to include all those that are lapsed, urging them to return and offering them the opportunity to purchase a season ticket at whatever the reduced prices the club are currently working on. GP consulted the meeting about what extent of reduction could have a significant effect on attendances and various percentage reductions were discussed (2% to 10%) which were agreed, if possible, would be meaningful. GP and AY agreed to make a projection based on such a reduction to see if it was feasible.
GP said he accepted that what happened in the past was wrong, and that all that matters now is getting those fans back. He also said that if it backfired there would be nobody to blame but himself.
The group were also informed that kids promotions such as kids for a quid would be looked at/promoted more for next season.
2.3. China game - update about the situation
When asked about an update on this, GP said that there had been apologies from both China and Chelsea; the Richard Hill suspension; that everyone is trying to be as fair as possible; and that threats from the Triads had allegedly been made and the police were around on Friday re: the Southend game.
2.4. Dean Parrett deal
GP said that the deal was worth £1m up front and with a 25% sell-on clause, plus we will have first refusal on him should Dean be sent out on loan in the future. When asked why there had been reports of the deal having been worth £2m plus, GP replied that the final amount that comes back to the club could amount to the sum that was quoted. When PH informed GP that she regularly goes to the training ground and got to know the family, hence her surprise when he left because as far as she knew, the youngster appeared happy at QPR, GP claimed that both himself and John Gregory were against selling him; that the family had made the decision; that he had been offered a schoolboy contract when he was 14 but he had not signed; and that John Gregory had done the same thing but still the player had not signed. He stated that he (GP) had never approached the family but had dealt with the Wintons who were representing Dean.
PH mentioned about a rumour that had appeared on one of the message boards in which it had been quoted by a school friend of Dean's that he didn't want to leave and again GP refuted this, saying he challenges anyone who says that the club forced him to go. He said that there had been talks with Chelsea but the family had turned this down and then Tottenham had come in for him.
TS then informed GP about a couple of calls she had taken from individuals who had claimed that both himself and John Gregory had forced Dean Parrett's and his family's hand regarding the move to Spurs and the reason why there were discrepancies about the amount/s of money received from the transfer was because they had received bungs via brown paper envelopes, thus taking money away that should have rightfully been the club's. When GP was asked to comment he replied that he had something to show her and left the room for a few minutes. When he returned he was carrying a piece of paper and which he showed to TS which was an invoice showing a transaction made during this month for an amount of £1m from Barclays bank which was transferred to HMCE (the inland revenue). GP claimed that not one penny from the £1m down payment went direct to the club and that it all went to the inland revenue to pay the recent tax bill. He said the bottom line was because of the finances we would have had to have sold a player (from the first team) the Spurs offer came in for Dean Parrett, stating again that neither himself nor John Gregory - who he said had had plans for him to make his first team debut as QPR's youngest ever player - had wanted him to go. GP denied there were any undisclosed payments and challenged anyone who claimed to have evidence of them, or of wrongdoing, to go to the police and/or the FA.
* After the meeting, TS spoke to Alex Winton asking him if he would clarify on a couple of points. Alex told her that he is not an agent; that he helped the family out as a family friend by helping with the negotiations with Spurs; that he received no money; and that so far as he were aware, Gianni Paladini or John Gregory had not wanted Dean to go to Spurs.
2.5. Any more funds coming in from the shiteetu deal
GP informed the meeting that so long as he starts (i.e. substitutions do not count) two more games we will get £250,000. After another 25 games, again the club will get another £250,000. And if Watford stay up we'll get £500,000.
2.6. Update on Harry Smart's condition
PH said she had seen Harry down the training ground and that he's off crutches now and progressing well. GP said it will take him a long time to be able to concentrate back on football.
2.7. Ballboys and Loftus Road
PH asked about the possibility of ball boys (or girls) being introduced to Loftus Road to help with the amount of time that goes wasted during games. GP agreed it would be a good idea to have four ball boys (girls) in the four corners of the ground and it was suggested for Andy Evans to be contacted about this.
2.8. Plans for a pre-season tour
GP said that John Gregory is keen to play three games at Loftus Road before the new season starts with games being pencilled in against Celtic, Arsenal (which would encompass being a tribute game for Kiyan Prince) and possibly an Italian side. When asked by VS as to why this couldn't be made into a mini tournament, GP said that the other teams have other matches planned already etc. He did say that the club might look to have a couple of days away at somewhere like Ireland or Scotland.
2.9. Access to and use of bars after games
There was a discussion about use of bars and access to them and the point was raised that fans in Ellerslie Road (who do not have a bar as such to use in that stand) who might want to go to the blue and white bar after games have to go outside and walk all the way around the ground with it being asked why they can't just be able to have access through entering via the gate that separates the Ellerslie and Loftus Road stands? It was suggested for Steve Pike to review this and to perhaps inform the match day stewards about any possible changes.
3.1. What is the current financial state (including concerning debts) and financial plan of the club?
GP started off by saying that with regards to clearing bills £250,000 is required and that includes the fee for Deloitte and Touche
He spoke about a recent tax payment (£1.5m) and how tax accrues all the time at the rate of around £300k per month, but that we no longer have a backlog. We have the ABC loan for £10m (£1m per year interest) and said that the aim is to get rid of the ABC loan as by May the interest could by put up to 13% and so this needs to be cancelled urgently and to get a fresh one. He said that the board are working continually on this stating the ground will not be sold and that there will be no sale and leaseback. He went on to describe the running of QPR as "like a big house, we have to pay bills, big bills and sometimes we have to prioritise". He stated that there things like security bills which amount to £50k per month to be paid and that cashflow is the biggest problem, saying that to keep this club alive we need the money to do so, money in the bank, commenting that we do not even have an overdraft facility with the bank.
When asked about directors loans he said that yes, we are all aware of the directors loans but that if we were to go bust they would lose their money, they have no guarantee on anything and so it is not in their interests for us to go bust or go into administration.
GP denied that there were any truth in the rumour about Paul Kemsley (Tottenham vice chair) taking over/refinancing the ABC loan, saying there was no truth in this whatsoever.
SD again raised some questions that had been flagged on one of the message board's, the first in relation to the ABC loan, which was regarding the legal implications of it and if the board had looked into this? NDM said that basically when it comes to challenging the loan, losses have to be shown and it would be difficult to establish losses given the club did borrow £10m. It would have to be proved that the company could have borrowed £10m on better terms (e.g. lower interest). He also said even if it was possible to prove corruption there would be little/no chance of receiving damages.
The next question was about the latest valuation of the ground and GP said it was £24m, and that this valuation had been done by Savilles (brought in by Kevin McGrath).
And what about contingency plans if we get relegated asked SD? GP's reply was "no, not at this moment, I don't want to think about relegation. I do not believe we will be relegated. Meet me in another month's time and we can talk about it then".
At this point it was felt a suitable time to have a quick five-minute break and then the meeting resumed.
3.2. Have there been any investors or bids?
GP again stated that if anyone came in with a bid and with the funds to take the club forward, he would be the first to step aside. As regards anyone wanting to invest money, he said "please come in; we have a dream; we'd all like the ABC loan to be paid off" going onto comment how £2m he estimates would be needed to build a team to go up.
He claimed there had never been any serious investors offering to buy all the directors out at the going rate and started to talk about how when he first joined the club the £650k he put into the club went straight to the taxman. "I didn't push my way in like Rambo. But I didn't know the financial implications and I admit I was a fool?an idiot. All my clothes were bought before I came here, I had my own car, still have my own car. I have dealt with deals worth £100m and will mix with everybody. Bids? No, there have been none. Where are they"?
3.3 The 2005 accounts
AY started off by saying how at the AGM in March 2006, the accounts that were presented had not been signed off by the auditors. The changes of figures in the accounts that have just recently been filed are down to the subsidiary (Queens Park Rangers Football and Athletic Club) accounts that have now been done/finalised/filed. Geoff then intercepted by explaining that he has the facility for doing a search on Companies House which means that every time a new file appears or is updated on their website, he gets notified by an email and he then checks the website to see what has been updated. This allows him, and anybody else with this facility, to know the history of filing dates and he said that at the time when GP joined there were subsidiary accounts (QPRFAC) that were four years out of date. He said that AY is the first man to have brought those accounts up to date and explained about auditors; how they are basically an independent body of accountants who do an audit on company accounts; that they have to be fair; and with no skulduggery going on. He explained that the most important thing for any auditors is for them to be sure that the accounts they are signing off shows reasonable proof that the company is a going concern for the following year. He said that the note about this in the auditor's report had been changed and that it could have been an option by shareholders to call an EGM. It was quoted that the cost of calling an EGM could amount to £10k and that AY is now drafting a letter to be sent to shareholders explaining the situation to them about how the last accounts were not finalised; that they had now been filed; and that the proposal is for them to be approved within a resolution at the next AGM.
GP stated how new auditors had come in, that basically there had been confusion, and that the auditor had pressured the club for extra money before the books had been released to them. He said he had sought advice from other people and that it had been recommended to him to bring back the firm the company used in the past, Rothman Pantell, and that this had been done. He claimed how the club tried to put things right and SD pointed out to him that the club must have realised that this would happen, how it would give a wrong impression for fans/shareholders to read about this in the newspapers, and why did they not contact someone like Geoff in the first instance? AY acknowledged this and said how he could see that this could be seen as a cover-up but that there had been a lack of communication between the ex financial controller and the auditors.
GP commented on how it was all a bad mistake; that he has put his trust in people that are paid to do a job; that he acknowledges he has to carry the can; that the figures - the loss amount - is the exact same; that he wants to be surrounded by people who know what they are doing; and that he is learning something new every day.
AY said that Rothman are now on the case for the 2006 (May year end) accounts and that they are hopeful of them being signed off and filed at companies house on/by 31st March. GP asked Geoff if he would come in to monitor the accounts/process and he agreed to at the least send in one of his accountants for the day before the end of March. Geoff suggested this so as to avoid any possible conflict of interests.
AY asked if there were anything else required to be known about the accounts and as time was getting on by this stage, Geoff suggested he email specifics to him, as he does have a number of queries, and for any responses to be relayed in due course.
VS asked about the community department and into which company this department comes under and AY said it's the Holdings company.
4.1. Disability issues
SD explained how, with the help of the club's disabled representative, Malcolm in the box office, a survey had been sent out to disabled fans and that there had been a good response to this with many issues arising. PH mentioned how the supporters club had done a similar thing two or three years back and SD mentioned how he had heard plenty about this in responses.
He explained that a meeting then took place with club reps at which both himself and Bev attended and that as a result of this Steve Pike at the club is to make a report. Recommendations for the short term included getting info out to the club's disabled supporters on the website regarding things such as tickets and concessionary rates that are available to them. It was reiterated by both SD and Bev that this whole issue is about trying to be constructive, and how to help the club in how we can, perhaps by fundraising etc. The club has joined NADS (the national association for disabled supporters) and it was suggested that a working party be formed.
4.2. Stakeholders meeting
It was explained that the Trust are looking towards the implementation of a stakeholders day to hopefully take place during the summer. The idea of this is to help give the club good PR whilst at the same time giving the club a vehicle by way of having debates in groups with a whole variety of groups/firms/individuals who all have an interest in Queens Park Rangers football club.
A more formal proposal is to be put together.
4.3. Children's funday or open day?
PH said that at a meeting the supporters club had with Gary Hooper (the club's commercial director) he confirmed that there would be a children's day held at Harlington, which would basically probably incorporate with it being a train with the players' opportunity.
The issue of the old open days that QPR used to hold was raised and it was acknowledged that the events held at Gurnell leisure centre were costly. VS suggested maybe making contact with the Linford Christie Stadium to see if this could be a possibility as a venue to hold a summer open day.
GP mentioned how there are plans to have an open festival (music) at the Loftus Road ground in May. He said that the pitch was going to be re-laid after this and that such an event could be a great money making operation.
5. Consultation group
5.1. Future of this Fans Consultation Group. Should representation be expanded? What about representation of disabled fans? What about representation of fans who are not members of any of the groups represented?
It was agreed that the evening had been felt useful and that the sharing of experiences is constructive. Whilst it was good for reps from groups to be represented there was also the concern about such meetings being seen as a 'usual suspects' type of exercise. SD suggested that it might be a good idea to expand invites to a couple of reps that are part of the Rebuild QPR group, as this group consists of reps from the various QPR websites etc and this was felt a sensible route. KH suggested that in the meantime how about asking fans to send in questions for the next meeting, with this being promoted on the websites and in the matchday programme? This was also felt to be a good and sensible course of action as this would help to encompass a cross section of our fanbase. Watch this space for further information/developments on this.
Regarding the issue of representation from our disabled supporters, it was agreed that Bev should begin to do this whilst at the same time SD and Bev should try to encourage someone from the disabled section of fans to attend.
6.1. Jackie Bass - has she resigned?
TS asked if the rumour were true that Jackie had resigned and GP confirmed that this was the case. He said he asked her not to but she had made her mind up. The club, he said were looking to put in place one press officer and when asked about the club PR by SS said that they were getting someone in to look at the whole issue of the club PR. He also acknowledged that the website needed looking at in terms of content etc.
6.2. Coaches to Leeds
TS asked GP if he/the club would consider giving free travel for those fans going to Leeds on the club coaches by way of them paying for this as a goodwill gesture? GP said he would sanction this, that it was the least he/the club could do to thank the fans, and also by way of apologising to them for the Southend debacle. He mentioned how he felt bad for those 700 fans that went to Roots Hall and when SS mentioned how the Friends of QPR travel group are running a joint coach with the LSA to Leeds, and that they would lose money on their coach as some of their regulars would go on the club coach (due to this gesture), GP said the club would fund the cost for both the coaches, along with another club one if necessary.
6.3. Away supporters at Loftus Road
VS raised the subject of away supporters at Loftus Road from clubs that are renowned for being rather rowdy, and why they never seem to be held back in the ground these days to allow for home fans to be clear of the area? It was agreed this has been a problem and that maybe the club needs to have a think about reviewing/suggesting that the stewards hold them back for 10 or so minutes afterwards.
7. Next meeting
The date for the next consultative group meeting was pencilled in for 10th April.
QPR OFFICIAL SITE
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