A PRODUCTIVE EGM of Nairn County Football Club Limited was held at the Newton Hotel this evening.
The meeting was chaired by interim Chairman, Donald Matheson, who began by thanking outgoing chairman, Peter Mackintosh and the club's previous main sponsor, Narden for their huge contribution to the club.
He handed over to company secretary Bill Young, who explained the situation is not anywhere near as dire as 1995 when the club nearly went out of business. He said that the Mackintosh family were handing the club back over the community in an excellent condition with a fantastic facility, no great deal of debt with a manageable overdraft. However, Mr Young explained that the current wage bill is unsustainable and that without wages, the club would make a healthy £10,000 per year profit, so any fundraising and future external sponsorship would be used solely to fund the playing side of the club.
Mr Young explained that the lack of a contingency plan and the very short notice given by the outgoing chairman and sponsor meant that the purpose of the meeting was simply to inform shareholders of the position. He added that there had been some attrition on the wages and that former manager, Les Fridge had helped the situation greatly by waiving a substantial amount of his payoff entitlement.
Mr Young surmised that the club was far from bankrupt and can afford to pay its way - it was the wages that were the problem and now was the time to cut the club's cloth to what it can afford.
Donald Matheson added that it was an awkward situation and no decisions had been made by the board of directors. There were several interested parties in the vacant manager's position and the club would be pursuing these as a matter of urgency.
Mr Matheson stated that it was going to be difficult but the club wants to remain competitive although may not be as competitive as it has been in the short term. The interim Chairman was sure that the club will see its way through the existing problem but the timescale was the big issue. Decisions will have to be made but it was accepted that the club was not going to find "another Narden".
The meeting was then opened up to questions from shareholders and Alan Watson asked whether the club owns all of the tools and park maintenance equipment at Station Park. Mr Matheson explained that everything was in ownership of Nairn County FC and stated that the club will be looking for maintenance volunteers going forward.
Shareholder Neil Gibson said that in his opinion, players on significant wages should be free to go. John McGinley, Nairn County FC Director, answered that this would be a decision for a new manager to take, to which shareholder Donald Wilson added that any appointment of a new manager would be determined by the financial situation at Nairn County FC and whether they see the club as an attractive proposition.
Shareholder Ian Green asked if anyone of the players had requested to leave. Donald Matheson answered that to his knowledge, no one had asked to go and that the club would look after the best interests of the players as well as the club.
James Wallace asked about the wage bill in the short term to which Bill Young answered that the club would be able to pay the current wages due at the end of July while Richard Konczak asked if the players could be asked to take a wage reduction. Donald Matheson said that this was a valid question while John McGinley added that the club would rather explore other fundraising options.
Bill Young then outlined that the club has three options - increase borrowing from the bank, a shares issue or accept an offer on the table to buy out the remaining 19 years of the lease on the mobile telephone mast within the grounds of Station Park.
Shareholder Des Scholes opined that the share issue would be the best avenue but Donald Matheson stated that these things do not happen overnight and that it would probably be next year before such a procedure is in place.
Shareholder David Douglas said that in 1995, a vow was made not to sell the club's assets while Steven Bain pointed out that the mast regulation precludes other masts being placed in the area, which would be advantageous to Nairn County moving forward.
John McGinley added that if the offer for the mast is accepted, it would solve the problem as if there was no money then no manager or players would come to the club. He stated that the offer was only good for so long and was a take-it-or-leave-it package. He also said that the structure and the foundations of the club are all in place but if the players are not up to standard then the sponsors, fans and new players will not want to come in and that it would be a shame to let the standards that have been set in recent years slip.
Ian Finlayson, director of Nairn County FC, countered by saying if the mast lease was sold, it would be rolling the dice on attracting a main sponsor within a year.
Donald Wilson, shareholder, proposed the idea that the club looked into a membership subscription scheme where fans signed up to donate £10 per month. If this could attract 100 signups then that would give the club £12500 per year.
Donald Graham, shareholder, asked why Station Park cannot be used for one-off games. Donald Matheson answered that it was an issue with insurance and safety certificates but it was something he was looking into. He had received approaches from the Forres and Nairn District Welfare Association and the organisers of the Nairn County Legends match to use Station Park and although he would have loved to have hosted both games, it was too short a timescale to resolve these issues given everything else which is currently going on with the club.
Finally, Kenny Macleod, shareholder, asked if the youth side of the club was self-sufficient. Gillian McWilliam, Head of Youth Development and Nairn County FC director answered that the under-15s and under-17s are self-sufficient from grand funding but the under-20s received no grants and that the running costs of this team are something that she and the board are actively looking into.
A meeting of the Nairn County supporters, open to the public and chaired by Ian Finlayson and Donald Matheson, takes place at the Royal British Legion in Nairn tomorrow. All welcome.