How Your Club is Run
The Trust are majority shareholders at ECFC, but we don’t run the Club on a day to day basis.
You can view the current Trust Board members in the About Us section.
The Club Board
The Club Board run the business on our behalf. The Board members are listed below and you can find more information on the Directors on the Club Board page. This contains more information about individual Directors and what skills and experience they bring, along with photographs to make them more recognizable.
Julian Tagg (Director)
Laurence Overend (Director)
Elaine Davis (Director)
Paul Farley (Director)
Peter Holding (Director)
David Lee (Director)
Paul Morrish (Director)
Keith Mason (Finance Director)
None are shareholders of the Club. All are currently Trust members, and 4 are Trustees from the Trust Board of Society.
These are divided into those who are “Football” (i.e. players, coaches, physio etc.) and those who are often given the group title of “Back Office”.
One huge benefit of being a “Fan-owned” Club is that it appears individuals are more willing to give their time voluntarily to the club than is normal. That is not to say that other clubs don’t benefit from volunteering, but here at City it is massive. Recently it was calculated that if we had to employ someone to do all the work that is done for nothing by committed Grecians, it might cost the club up to another 200K per year. That’s very much a crude estimate – a figure that it would be worth costing more carefully sometime!
There is a band of ladies who go in and cook the players’ lunches at the Cat & Fiddle every weekday. They don’t wash up however – the players do! There are individuals, who help Denis Lee with the Club’s IT systems and ticket printing, and there are the fans who every week clear up the Stadium after games, or do maintenance work throughout the week. On match-day many of the roles you see performed by people wearing suits are actually being done by volunteers. There are certainly others – have we left your contribution out? If so, please tell us!
Do the Trust Have Enough Control Over Their Club?
A Trust member wrote to us and said they would not be renewing their membership because they felt the answer to this question was “no”. This will continue to be a topic for lively debate. We publish below the main points we made in our reply to that member. Please read it and tell us what you think either by emailing us, or coming to our next Forum.
You say: “I feel the trust is not in control of the club they own. This is the reason why I feel I need to cancel my auto renew membership”.
We would say – that the Trust holds 63% of the traceable shares, so if there was any major decision by the Club which Trust members didn’t like (i.e. leaving SJP, changing the name of the team as at Hull, or the colour of the strip as at Cardiff) we could force the Club to think again. Ultimately if things got really bad, we could pass a vote of no confidence in any Director, or the entire Club Board, and dismiss them.
We would also say that fans at other clubs would give their eye teeth to have 2 Trust appointees on their Club Board and Trust appointees on every important Club committee (e.g. Gates, Finance, Appointments and Remuneration)
One of the biggest confusions in everyone’s mind is that we talk about “ownership” as if it is the same as being in day to day control. When all the current Trustees were elected the deal was that the Trust owned the Club but recognised it had neither the skills nor the time to run a Football League club itself. The Club Board are effectively there to do that job. This hasn’t changed recently, it’s been like that for a long time now, even back to well before 2010. That doesn’t mean the current balance is necessarily right and this is a subject that should always be under constant review.
With the model at Exeter City there will always be tensions between the two Boards (Club and Trust). I would imagine if a rich owner is paying big time; everyone else has to do as he says if they want to be part of that project? At City we only have 3,000 members currently and can offer the Club less than 4% of the annual turnover. It still means we have the ultimate power described in the first paragraph, but we possibly don’t always have quite the same “Jump! How high?” relationship with the Club as an incredibly wealthy benefactor would.
However we like to think real measureable progress is being made in formalising how we work together for the good of Exeter City. For instance in the last six months the Club Board have willingly agreed to make more financial information available to the Trust, and the Club Chairman will address the Trust AGM every year in future, as he did this year for the first time for a long time. They have also willingly agreed to a more formalised procedure for existing directors to go through each year if they want the Trust to recommend their re-appointment.
Does that mean we have got it right? Some Trust members said at the recent Forum we held on 03/02/14, that being a fan of a Trust-owned club “doesn’t feel all that different to being a fan at any more traditionally run club”. That perception should worry us and the Club Board, so we agree that there is a lot more work to do. Our recently published new “Vision Statement” alludes to this. We hope you will see more tangible signs of progress with these over the coming months.