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Charles Bannerman

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Charles Bannerman last won the day on March 28

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  1. I think that it’s very difficult to estimate what would happen if relegation took place because of the ongoing chronic lack of information. The last accounts we have seen are to the end of May 2022, almost two years ago, and even these are disappointingly lacking in detail; for instance they don’t even record turnover. In February, the board deployed an accounting technicality which allowed them to delay the accounts for the year to May 2023 by three months and that new deadline arrives at the end of this month - although even this latest set will still be a year out of date. The deadline for another AGM is July 24th but last time the deadline stated on the Articles of Association was ignored to the extent of four months. We know that, within the period of the accounts that should be imminent, the arm’s length concert company collapsed but, while local traders lost out, the club contrived to extract money out of that situation - at the cost of a great deal of local goodwill being lost. Of the battery farm, little has been heard since the Council pulled the plug. Meanwhile the ongoing perception is that the club is still losing money hand over fist and a group of wealthy individuals are continue to put their hands in their pockets to keep the administrator from the door - although details are unclear. So at last we get to the added implications of possible relegation where I would imagine that further reduced income streams would need to be added to all the uncertainties listed above. Straws and camels’ backs? Certainly, the stated objective of solving the financial problems by returning to the Premiership would appear to be quite a distant one.
  2. Yeh… whatever rocks your boat. If you want to make a big song and dance over the fact that I might better have included the words “clubs like”…. on you go.
  3. I’ve now read the Courier’s report on this meeting and I see the Chairman quoted as saying “We bought the ground around us. We didn’t own the ground until last year.” This raises one or two questions for me. Precisely which “ground” is being referred to here? The stadium site - initially 9.03 acres but soon extended to 12.88 - was leased for 99 years in 1994 from the Inverness Common Good Fund who owned the land. This comprised the area of the stadium itself and the surrounding car parks. So is it all or part of this area that the Chairman is saying has been purchased from the CGF by the club? Or is it further land beyond the perimeter? And of particular interest here at this time of financial crisis is - where did the money come from? I imagine that another quote from the Chairman may also attract attention - “Caley Thistle should be a commercial property company with a football club hanging off it.” Thoughts, anyone?
  4. I also am unclear about what the objectives of this scheme are. Is the aim to raise money by share purchase to help with running costs, or is it to achieve significant shareholding in the hope of having a fan director on the board? Or a bit of both? In the case of the former, I fear that any cash input raised from fans would barely scratch the surface given the scale of recent losses - £16,000 a week according to the most recently available figures and the word on the street has been that the figures for 2022-23, which have to be revealed by the end of next month, may sit at average weekly losses of around £12K, although I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised on that one. As for getting a supporter on the board, I haven’t had time to look at the articles of association, but I suspect that there may be two possible routes - election at the AGM (which should happen before late July) to fill any vacancy, or cooption by the current board. I don’t think straightforward shareholding is enough. I also wonder if football sometimes loses sight of what a company’s board is meant to be. The orthodox answer is a collection of what the shareholders consider to be the best available group to run the company. But since football operates via the economics of the madhouse, boards tend here to have a significant presence of people who have been prepared to cover a club’s fundamental losses which are built up as a result of persistently paying players more than the market will stand. We therefore encounter the question - are football directors there for their skills in running companies or is their primary role simply as cash cows? The Chairman with the minimum £250 shareholding that Scotty mentioned will be Ken Mackie who, as I understood it, was a Tulloch appointee at a time when Tulloch’s £5 million injection was in full flow, but David Sutherland himself wanted to stand down. Ken, a chartered accountant, was one of the best chairmen, if not the very best that the club has had and, for instance, it was largely due to him that the club negotiated the minefield designed to keep ICT out of the SPL in 2004.
  5. The company currently has £4.9 million issued shares so it depends what percentage of that would be needed for it to be thought fit for a supporters’ director to be appointed. On that basis, I think the 10% Supporters’ Trust entitlement would put it in third place behind the approx 20% if you aggregate the holdings of the Muirfield Mills group and the 14.9% of the Community Trust, with the likes of Alan Savage/Orion and the Sutherland interest probably next in line along with the McGilvrays. However I don’t think there’s a specified number of shares. As far as I know, board composition is matter force current board and shareholders, in accordance with whatever it says on the Articles of Association.
  6. According to what Scot Gardiner told the September Football Memories meeting, it was his idea to approach Duncan Ferguson and it was he who persuaded Duncan Ferguson to apply. I follow separately that, after the interviews, Scot Gardiner and the Chairman voted for DF and Grassa voted for Dougie Imrie.
  7. That’s a masterful appraisal of the club’s status from Scotty there, although I do also agree with Johndo’s point that Duncan has been hamstrung by a very low budget. In that regard, I don’t think we know how good a job Duncan is capable of in the same way as we don’t know how good a dentist is if all they have to work with are hammer and chisel. Fundamentally, we have no way of finding out just how desperately low the player budget is and therefore whether we are having to rely on players who would struggle to get a full time contract anywhere else and loanees whose parent clubs have possibly been quite glad to get rid of them. Note that I am simply saying we don’t know here, because we have no way of even guessing how much is being spent on the squad - partly because the latest available accounts reflect a period that ended almost two years ago and also that they are not obliged to show earnings or expenditure, but simply the profit/loss situation (most recently a loss of £835K). All we therefore know is that we have a squad that isn’t performing but we don’t know whether we are simply getting what we have paid for and that neither Dodds nor Ferguson could be expected to make bricks without straw. Moving on to Scotty’s crystal clear appraisal of the club’s status, both historical and current, we need to come to terms with the fact that the club has been bailed out by well wishers for years now. For instance 2018/19 alone needed £1 million in new shares - ie financial gifts - and since then hands regularly been put into pockets. What makes this all the more egregious is that TWO YEARS of trying to raise cash by non-football means have been utterly wasted since one bright idea went bust and the other has hit serious trouble which was apparently not foreseen. Scotty also makes the point that the club’s local reputation has been substantially trashed as a result of these twin disasters. I would add that I felt distinctly ashamed at the last AGM when I pressed the top table on the failure of the Concert Company and received the almost triumphant reply that the football club had extracted money for stadium hire from the concert company BEFORE it went bust, leaving several local traders out of pocket. Add that to the bellicose and arguably coercive pronouncements emanating from the club during the recent planning process and I really do worry about local public perception of this club and hence willingness to support it should it run into even more serious trouble. As a veteran of the crisis of 1999-2000 when Tullochs had to intervene to spirit away £2.3 million of debt and before that of a multitude of existential cliffhangers during the merger, I am still finding it difficult to see how the club can escape from this one, especially in a local atmosphere where a body that should enjoy widespread esteem has got itself into a position where it is actively disliked in many quarters.
  8. It should maybe be added that Duncan Ferguson must be working on a rock bottom budget and up here it does seem that clubs have to pay players a premium for geographical reasons recruiting at a decent standard must be very difficult. Was anyone else at the September meeting of the Football Memories group where Scot Gardiner took the floor and detailed how he personally had recruited Duncan? I understand that the appointment was confirmed after Scot Gardiner and the Chairman voted for Duncan and Grassa voted for Dougie Imrie.
  9. One of the problems of being a “Small Company” is that the accounts aren’t very detailed. In fact when they eventually materialised last year, I don’t recollect any statement of turnover so we don’t really know, year on year, what’s happening with earnings. We also don’t know what the losses are as a percentage of turnover so we just have to speculate as to what the relative magnitude of that £835K loss was.
  10. I agree with a certain amount of what you say but there are other criticisms that were also made of the previous board and also of boards before that, and indeed are made by football fans throughout the game. The basic truth is that there is no obligation on anyone to put themselves in the firing line and spend their personal funds running a fundamentally non-viable business using a fundamentally non-viable business model - which is common throughout the game. It’s been clear from the start that there isn’t enough demand, neither actual nor (probably) potential, for a product involving around 30 full time front line employees with several more in backup roles, to make that business anything other than regularly loss making. Over time, something in the ballpark of £10 million of other people’s money has gone into keeping this business going and it always runs into the same problem because of its fundamentally loss making nature. Far too often in football there seems to be this expectation that it’s someone else’s responsibility to fund this loss making process and failure then leads to calls for the removal of those who have used their own money to try and their replacement by others prepared to expose themselves to the same routine.
  11. And if you did that - cast aside people who have been bailing out a fundamentally loss making position with their own money for years - who would you expect to take over the running of the club and to cover its ongoing financial shortcomings, knowing that this could happen to them as well? The community doesn’t owe football a living - especially if football chooses to live beyond its means and expects other people to pick up the tab for that.
  12. Has anyone chanting for the Board to be sacked managed to work out how much in loans would be recalled for immediate repayment as a result?
  13. It would probably sink into the deep mud that was clearly afflicting the penalty spot there yesterday morning.
  14. The original decision was taken by the South Planning Committee comprising councillors from south of the Kessock Bridge. Some of these failed to attend the site visit so were disqualified, some declared an interest and it’s said some couldn’t be @rsed, leaving 5 as against a quorum of 3. The decision was then referred to the full council, also including members from 100+ miles away from Inverness and that attracted an attendance of 56, with no apparent concern about declaring interests or not having done a site visit.
  15. In 1995 Inverness District Council voted for a £900,000 grant to the club, of existential significance, to make the stadium project viable. On the strength of that, construction contracts were let - and then a cabal of councillors and council officials managed to find a technicality which they used to create a rearguard action against payment. The eventual outcome of a chaotic scenario was that, under threat of legal action, the cash was paid from the Common Good Fund. Fast forward to 2024 and Highland Council’s planning process made a decision to allow a battery farm, again of existential significance, worth £3.4 million to the club, but now another huge spanner has been thrown in these works in the form of another rearguard action by councillors (and possibly council officials as well) who don’t like this decision and are again intent on reversing it amid rumblings of legal action. Our local councils don’t seem to learn much from previous episodes of chaos that they’ve created.
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