Fan-Led Review of Football Governance Interview with Kelvin Thomas

In November 2021, MP Tracey Crouch released her review into the governance of English football.

While many Premier League chairmen and CEO’s came out against the review and the suggestions it put forward, NTFC Chairman, Kelvin Thomas was supportive of the majority of the report.

In this special episode of the award-winning Cobblers podcast, Kelvin Thomas joins Danny and Charles to talk about why he supports the Tracey Crouch Report and answers some extra questions about his ownership of Northampton Town Football Club.

Hear Kelvin’s thoughts on why he feels the business side of football needs to change, how the Premier League can help make football more sustainable, fan-led proposals such as The New Hotel End, the way he and David Bower finance the club and how you can help support the change of English football.

You can read the Tracey Crouch report here: Fan-Led Review of Football Governance.

Details of local MP’s and how to help show your support for the report are here: ntfc.co.uk

Transcript

IACTM Fan led Review

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Kevin Thomas today.

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So, Kevin first I wanted to get your overall reaction to the review when you first.

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And she's obviously got a good grasp of some of the issues and looking, and more importantly, some, some potential solutions for that. So I think overall as a football club and personally, we absolutely support some, a lot of the recommendations in there.

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I think it was so, uh, it tends to come across that way to all the directors and owners and chairman, et cetera.

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Um, to get to, to get to something looks good or right at the end, but, you know, and it's the same with, with Tracy's report, you know, w the, the, the biggest, the biggest, the big picture about it is, is, you know, the, the, the financing and the ability to make football clubs sustainable alongside some more regulation to ensure that football clubs act in a, in a decent and proper way, um, with that increased financing.

So, uh, that's the that's to me, that's the, the most important aspects of what needs to be fixed within football as a whole. Um, so some of the other stuff you w you would look at, and, and obviously, as you know, you, we we've looked, we've looked at this stuff and we've looked to acts things like. We've got an advisory panel that probably hasn't done as much recently because of some of that because of COVID et cetera.

Um, so that, you know, you could see that becoming more of a shadow board, you know, as, as you go along, uh, we've obviously got, um, uh, fans, a director on with Tom. Uh, I think that's been incredibly positive. Uh, and you know, some of that decision was born out of watching. What were the direction that Tracy was going in in terms of her report.

So, um, things like that, you know, people have said to me, what do you think about the golden share? Uh, the truth is, you know, would you, do you want to give up any control? Not always, but the truth is the, some of the, the things that the golden share wood would, would, um, I'm quite an old fashioned person, quite an old fashioned football person.

So I wouldn't be looking to change logos, kick colors, you know, et cetera, et cetera. So, you know, um, we're pretty neutral on that. So, so those are the sort of things. So those are the sort of things people would see as a negative. Some people would say is a negative, but we're pretty, you know, we're pretty unfazed by that.

So as long as the report, yeah, independent regulators is obviously going to be a hot topic. Um, there will be, there'll be people at the higher end of the game. That will be very, very much against that I would have thought in the premier league, you know, you know, and again, if it gets us to where we need to get to, then I have no issue with it.

I personally, I believe if, if football clothes were sustainable, Then you would have less need for an independent regulator. Uh, I think the issues in football are more based around the fact that you, that is not a sustainable business as opposed to the regulation of football.

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Um, so you kind of need the regulator in the first place just to almost steady the ship.

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Um, so that's where I think it becomes important. I had a good long chat with Nigela orient and we talked about this quite a lot and he was very much in for, uh, it was very much for an independent regulator and I listened to the reasons why, and I understood the reasons why a lot more. Um, um, so, so, you know, w and as chairman, we talk about it quite a bit, you know, outside of official meetings.

And, and, and I think I've probably, I would, I think we we'd be supportive of an independent regulator, especially, or if it gets us to where we need to get to on the financial reform.

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Um, I was just interested in what these existing tests are. I wasn't entirely sure. What, what

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And I don't know how they do this, but it's quite an interesting one because the owners and directors test is looking backwards really. And, and, you know, I think what fans want, and then what an independent regulator would want was to look, would be to look forwards and to see, to understand how the decision making of an owner will affect you as a fan and as a football club.

Now, I think, I do think that's very, very difficult because football clubs are such fluid and, and, and, um, moving objects as it were or businesses that, you know, such fluid businesses and things change on a daily basis. Um, and I I'm, we as owners do get held up. You know, things that we said five years ago, and then that comes out all the time.

Have you said this, but you know, so many things change in that period that, uh, sometimes that's a little unfair, but he's how do you, how do you legislate for decision-making I guess is the question it's easy to, it's relatively easy to find, to be able to prove that somebody is, uh, is, uh, has done, has had problems in the past.

How easy is it? So they regulate for the decisions they're going to make in the future. Yeah, that that's going to be a, that's going to be a tough ass, but once again, and I keep harping back to this. If you take away the requirement for owner financing as, as, as, as much as it is right now, then a lot of, some of those problems go away because then you're, you know, most of the problems that owners have is when they run out of money, you know, we you've seen it at Northampton.

You know, when, when, when you run out of money and you can't fund what the club needs, then there, then there, there are issues. And suddenly, you know, you become a bad owner, um, where you weren't a bad owner five years ago when, when you were funded in the club, but all of a sudden you're a bad owner. So. So, and so, but it, a lot of those decision-making and, and again, how do you regulate for that?

That's that's the question I would have, but, you know, that would be part of the independent regulators job. So going back to your original question, the NFL owners and directors test is, eh, you know, is, is quite stringent in terms of what's happened in the past, but it's now looking at, I think it's now looking at what, what can you legislate for, for the future?

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So

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And, and it's the thing that everyone jumps up and down on. And, and if you look to look at it there, I don't know, five, 10 years. One of the, one of the biggest issues that football faced was the insolvency problems. So, so, and, and what happened was they, they, they produced very, very strict insolvency rules, which were, you would, you would lose points.

So as owners, as football clubs, the last thing you want to do is lose points. You know, it's one of the last things you want to do. So if you knew that if you didn't pay your pay or wages on time, that you lost points, it changed. I would change a changes thinking in our opinion, and that should have happened.

Yeah, years ago, they should have happened years ago. Um, and so, and it's, so that sort of, you know, up to date reports in is very, very important. What's happened as you've seen in certain examples like Darby is, or, you know, um, Barry is a prime example of it. And I think some of this came out of the independent report about Barry is they were missing.

Um, I think it was, uh, they were Oldham as well were missing payment dates and, and it was going on three, four or five months before any sort of action was taken. And then I ended up having to be retrospective action so that you actually got the punishment in the following season. So if, if you straight away, you had no choice it within seven days, you lost points, then it would take care of the issue right there.

And then owners would have a different decision when they, when they do have those plans.

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Not saying that they don't care about James and Gareth and other people, but there's not going to, it would be the same punishment. There wouldn't be a way for an owner or a chairman or somebody to actually choose between the playing side of the club and the rest.

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I don't know. I don't off the top of my head, 70% of it, van pliers. So if you had an issue, it was struggled to pay, you know, if you had an issue to play in the pliers, then finding the money to pay the rest of the wages, wouldn't be as difficult if you understand what I mean, but I know, I think it should be all wages.

They should be, you know, we're just, we're just believers that, you know, people work and they should get. You know, so the wages are the, you know, that's just to cost a desk, that's a cost of doing business. You got to pay the wages. So, you know, we'll no matter what happens. So, um, and uh, obviously the, the football league and the FFA have more control over the contracts for players.

So they know what those costs are. And we are quite, you know, the football clubs are regulated in that way, you know, wage costs and, and, uh, well-known to the leagues and, and, you know, they, they have, it's easier for them to regulate some of this. Some of the issue of regulation is all about capacity as well.

You know, it's not forget, you know, there are 72 clubs across the AFL. That's a lot of information to be, to be going through and keep, if we're talking about up-to-date reporting and. On time reporting that that's a lot of information so that there would need to be investment into the regulatory body anyway.

So I think Tracy deals with that in her report, in terms of the independent regulator. That's not one person sitting up top going, okay, you do this, you do that, that I think she was talking about 5 million pound a year cost, you know, in terms of that office, you know, that that 5 million pounds is a decent amount of money each year in terms of staffing level.

So

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I think for us it's the standard is it's just what we do and et cetera. And I think in football terms, I think there's always issues. There's always going to be issues. I think there's a lot of social media issues and, and et cetera, et cetera, that, that football deals with on a, on a daily basis. And it continues to deal with.

With, with some levels of abuse, et cetera. But I think in general terms, I think, I think it is a football is relatively inclusive and, um, in, in, in, in, in a lot of aspects. And, uh, but as in society that, you know, I always say that football reflects society as well. There are issues that we continue to continually have to battle and continually have to, to work through.

So I think including it in the report and, and having it as a, um, as something that is judged and, and, and, you know, kept an eye on as well, is.

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Is that something that you can see happening at the cobblers?

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So, uh, and this is similar to suppose trust as well as well. I think, I think when the majority of people think the clothes being run well, then certain aspects of, you know, fan not fan engagement, but, you know, fan fans getting together kind of loses the momentum because people, people don't necessarily in general, why do I believe football fans don't necessarily want to run their football clubs?

Um, you know, they, they, they never, majority of people don't want to do that. So if however, people will want to run their football club, if they feel the football clubs not being run very well. So, so, so what happens is, is when, at the times of, you know, don't forget, we came in at a time. That where the club was, was, was on his knees.

I've done a similar thing at Oxford, uh, years ago. And, and so you see a lot of momentum around advisory boards support was trust and advisory panels and find that that sort of fan fan to fan engagement because they feel like there's there's problems. What happens is, is when the club is even kill saying, and he seems to be running quite well, those the, you lose quite a lot of momentum.

And I think we saw that with the advisory panel. I think that was, that was, you know, quite well supported initially. And then it kind of waned. And I think what we've done is we're, especially recently I'm bringing Tom on was, has been fantastically positive, you know, and I, and I think Dan would have been very positive as well.

Um, but the one thing about Thomas I say is. If you don't like Tom or you can't get along with Tom, then you, it tends to be your problem. And not Tom's problem. If, if, if that's the way I look at Tom and I've got, you know, so, so, and hase been wonderfully useful in terms of just as a sounding board, more than anything else, even decisions that we make and he's come to us with, with ideas and he's come to us with things that he wants to try and get accomplished.

And, and, and I think that, you know, as you've seen over the last few months, the, the surveys I think is, is, is, has been tremendously important. And, and, and in terms of fan engagement, I think that's, that's, that's important because the reality is what better way to find out what the fans think or than to then, then to ask them, you know, so, you know, and, and, and I think that's, and I, and so for us, you know, supporter engagement, isn't.

Scary. I think we do it on a daily basis. We talk to fans on a daily basis and you know, it's obviously, it's, it's always difficult because there are so many different supporter groups, whether they're organized or not organized, there are groups of people within your fan base, always, you know, you are intrinsically, you are, it's all commerce to me.

Podcasts are your own sort of group within our fan base, you know? And, and there are there there's, you know, there is a disability group that isn't organized, but it is a group, you know, a group of, you know, some of our disabled supporters that, that talk to each other. So they, you know, they, they, they do form their own group or you love, you know, the travel clubs.

She that's a forest trust, travel club, six fields, travel club and norm, and the industry. Sorry, tribal clubs, all, you know, your own, their own groups in its own way. So where a club after China and especially, and now with Tom on board is helpful because you need to try and cross over all the groups and talk to everyone and take everyone's opinion in.

Um, and, uh, and, and, and, and try and try and balance that with how, how is, uh, you know, as a, as a club, we, we, what direction we want to go in?

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Or would it be look a little bit different to the advisory group?

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And the advisory panel, I would guess that the advisory panel was a bit more open to everybody on it. And if I remember correctly, we also, we did, the only stipulation is we had a couple of trust members on there that we, we requested. Um, but I think with the, the, they did the, um, more of a shadow board.

You'd probably have to have, try and make sure that you did have a representative. Viewpoint or a representative board, uh, as opposed to just making it open. So therefore, you know, it might be a case that you do have to have a, uh, a disabled supporter or you might, you know, you have to, you have to look at the inclusion aspects of a, of a board anyway and, and, and see what, see which way you go forward from there.

So, yes, I, it wouldn't be, you know, going back to your original point, it wouldn't be an issue. And, and I think it would be a useful.

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Would I see Tom being a bridge don't really, I see, you know, Tom being a bridge on that, on that, on that board, you know, he would bridge that board with the, with the existing.

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But what your initial thoughts on that?

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If you look all the examples of clubs getting in trouble, it's exact, it's at the point where the owner who has been putting a lot of money in as decided I don't have the money. I don't want to put it in. My partner has told me that I shouldn't be spending so much money on a football club, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

You know, if you look at Darby, Darby is a perfect example is up the road. You would look at Darby, anything, what a fantastic club. What Darby is looking for right now is Mel Morris five years ago, 10 years ago when Malmo, Mel Morris is now seen as, as you know, as is doing Darby down. But the truth is if you were looking for somebody now to take over Darby, you would want Mel Morris 10 years ago, because the reality is he's a fan he's, he's made a lot of money in another business.

He wants to run his football club and, and he, and he's put a lot of money in. And then that's what, that's what really you're looking for. And the reason you're looking for that every time is because football clubs aren't sustainable. And the reason why football clubs aren't sustainable is because the model was, uh, uh, the, the, the inflation in football has gone up so much.

That it's meant that there's more and more and more reliance on own the funding. So the moment that Maui. Decides that he doesn't want to put the money in, or he hasn't got the money or et cetera, et cetera. I don't know the exact reasons Darby suddenly becomes a basket case. Well, it wasn't a basket case when Mel was writing the checks.

You know, my argument, my argument always is it's a basket case. It was a basket case when Mel was wearing the checks right in the checks and it, and it continues to be a basket case, except it hasn't got any cash. So now it's a basket case with administrators running it and trying to find another Mel Morris.

So the fundamental part of that is not necessarily male is not necessarily administrators. The fundamental issue with that is the reliance on Mel's money. And I'm not making this personal with Mel and Darby, but it's a good example because you know what happens to Chelsea, if Abramovich we pulled out what, what happens to, uh, Man city, if, if, if the role in family Abu Dhabi, pull-out, you know, those are the, those are the questions that we need to ask ourselves in general.

And, uh, as, as a, as a global look at football and, you know, and, and we finance Northampton, that is, you know, yes, we obviously, there are people that say we should be sustainable, but we should be sustainable. We'd love to be sustainable. We, you know, it's funny because people complain about us not being sustainable to the people that would probably the ones that want it to be sustainable more than anyone, you know, because we're, we're writing the checks to, to, to fund it.

But we also know, and we take a view that says, you know, if we had one of the lowest budgets in the league, we, we would be sustainable, but would we be competitive? Yeah, that's the, that's the question that you always ask is, um, you know, and, and you're trying to make decisions that make you as, as competitive as possible within your parameters of what you're comfortable spending.

You know, we could all go out there, you know, and it's an interesting point. And we talk about, let's say, say when we first took over, you know, we came in and we looked at it and we, the applying budget was, was at the supply and budget. You know, we had a good side, but we came to January and we, and actually interestingly, we, we we'll, we'll end up putting as much in this window or we've offered to put as much in this window as we did in that window.

Uh, because you look at it and you go, you know, January is a terrible time to buy it, buy it, but not a bad time for a long player. And, and because we've had success with that, and we, you know, we bought James James and we bought John in, um, I think Danny rose came in at that time. And it might have had a big impact on our season back then.

And, and, you know, and even if you look at the last promotion, Calla Morgan came in, had a massive impact on our season, you know, and now we've got to look at this January and try and repeat the same sort of thing. But these are, these are decisions that we're making, not in a sustainable way. This isn't making Northampton more sustainable.

This is costing more money, but what do you do? Do you just sit there and go, do you make a financial decision, a sustainable decision? Or do you go, okay, let's put, let's offer an amount of money and, and away we go and sign a few pliers, which, which, which we've done and we'll we'll do because we're also competitive as well.

We want to do well. We want to engage. And then hopefully the problem with football is, is, you know, yeah, we get promoted. And you think, great, you get more money, but guess what? By our employer, wage inflation has gone up so much that all of a sudden you get your, you make more money, but you spend it on players anyway.

So, so, so going, that's a long answer to what you're saying about the premier league, that the premier league support the EFL tremendously. There's no question about that. You know, they do, they do fund a lot of the stuff that happens, but if, but they could, they could do more. And this isn't talking about in my mind, what's important.

This isn't us as football league clubs going, oh, we need the begging bowl out. We need more money. But the reality is the success. In my opinion, the success of the premier league, part of that success has been the football. There's no question about it. I think there's statistics around how many, how many premier league clubs have played in the football league.

There's statistics around how many. Flyers in the premier league currently applied in the football league, similar to look at us, you know, we've got, we've got Dominic, um, Ivan and car Walker of all my, uh, you know, all my debuts in there made their football career, debuts, I or football league debuts, uh, the professional debuts at Northampton, you know, and you look at Ivan and Dominic's in the England squad car has been an England player for a long time.

And, and Ivan's probably got a chance of getting in there at some point, but they're all recognized premier league players. They might not have happened if it wasn't for the football league. So we, you have to look down and look at the global aspect. And the PA the, the premier league is, is so successful because of the pyramid underneath it in our, in my opinion.

So the, the, the strength of the pyramid is so important. And also on the flip side, the reason why football league clubs struggle in it financially is because of the plant wage inflation that's happened. And if you look at the premier league, the premier league have to accept responsibility in that they have to understand that they've, they've, they've the impact of wage inflation in the premier league is being seen further down.

You know, you talk to it, it's all to Chris. I talked to Chris about this, Chris Walter. And when you go back, when you actually look at the amount of money that he was on, when he was a premier league player, it's, it's shocking. It's shocking to think. We have, we have young pliers on more money than Chris Wilder.

We would have been on in the premier league, you know, under 20 ones under 20, under 22 players on. Which is, which is, which just shows you the level of inflation that's happened. Chris was playing in the premier league. So it's how do you and the, the, the money coming down from the premier league, hasn't kept up with that. So, so it's a very, very difficult, it's very difficult. And this, and it's not just a premier league problem, like in terms of there are clubs in the, in the football league that have created that inflation as well, and saw food and soul food and Fleetwood, and, you know, and Sunderland role examples of that.

And especially a soffit in the Fleetwood where the, you know, perceptually, not, not big clubs, that, that, that, that they've all created that help to create that problem as well. But the reality is, is the main problem is at the top. And so it's an it's again, it's saying, okay, let's, let's, let's work out and parachute payments are a big part of that, which I'm sure we'll talk about, but let's, let's see if we can.

Let's see if we can, uh, get the, get the gap between the football league clubs and the premier league clubs to be smaller. And that's not taken everything away from the premier league. That's taken a little bit away from the, uh, that's taken a little bit away from the premier league and it will give the football league a lot.

Let's be honest, you know, the Lee's one and 2, 1, 1 decent transfer free in the premier league would take care of leagues one and two, and it would make every league one or two sustainable.

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And therefore they, they pay less of a levy. If you like to the, uh, the clubs in the AFL than they do. If they went and bought a player, I dunno, from the Bundesliga or, you know, Italy or wherever. Um, but in terms, I mean, you're right. I mean, it's one of those almost horrible things to use is a comparison or an example.

But down the road at Peterborough got saying, their model is buy cheap, sell high, and you know, and that's how they therefore. know that the owners still put in an awful lot of money to keep them going as well. But that's kind of how they've been successful in a way it's essentially just sort of going right.

Well, you know, if you can find a play, the problem for us has been, unfortunately that we have them earlier so that the transfer fee, maybe isn't as much as what they're getting later on down the road using Ivan is a prime example of that. But if you were to go in, actually turn around and say, look, you know, if you buy from leagues one and two, you don't have to pay as much money in terms of a levy or tax or whatever as you would.

And maybe that would help sort things out, give that incentive for them to do.

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You know, you've, we've, we've, we've got, you've got to kind of put this in perspective as well, like, and I've said this on meetings with all of this. We're not fighting we're, we're fighting the premier league, chief execs and, and owners mainly chief execs really? Cause they're worried about the bottom line of their football club, which is understandable.

We're not fighting premier league fans. You know, if you went up to a, if you went like, and that's why the European superly calls such as. With the fans of football clubs. If you went up to a Tottenham fan or an arsenal fan or a may United fan and said, would you, would you support a reduction in income for the Glazier family of 5%, which would then take care of football?

You know, uh, the, uh, you know, take care of the, the, the lower, lower league football Mo the majority of football fans. So, absolutely cause because the most, most football fans see, see, especially at the premier league level, see owners does greedy foreigners that come in and trying to take all that all their money and, and actually football fans have a, have a, have an empathy for other football fans when you're not competing directly on a Saturday afternoon, or, you know, or your city or United, or, you know, Northampton or Peterborough, you know, there is take away the rivalries.

And even with the rivalries, you. Consistently and football, when certain things happen, the rivalries go away and, um, in, in, in society. And so, so I think the thing we have to be careful that we're not fighting the premier league. And they said, well, we're the, the, the, the disagreement will be with premier league, chief execs, as we've seen.

And premier league owners may be in the background, but for the majority of premier league clubs would want the lower leagues to be sorted out. You know, how often do we see it? And I think premier league clubs in general, we do see it. We, you do see it on, you know, you know, I've said it on, on a couple of things, Aston Villa have been wonderful to us.

Northampton. They've been really, really good on certain things. Everton did something, uh, you know, a couple of, uh, the start of COVID, which was, which was, which was wonderful for us, you know? So I don't think on a one to one basis, I don't think there's an issue. I think in general terms, it's like anything, if someone said to me, would you want to reduce your income to support grassroots football?

There would be a conversation about it. You'd have to seriously think about it. And so, and it's just a case of, and again, it's in comparison, you're talking about on a yearly basis, it's, it's a, it's a premier league club giving up, you know, you know, 5 million quid or 10 million quid, which seems a tremendous amount of money.

But if you actually break it down to premier league revenues, it's really. So, so I think, I think it's, and it's not like you want, you want all the revenue. I think the split is something like 75, 25 and then abolished parachute payments. And, and again, parachute payments are seen as we'll probably a fantastic idea at the time.

You know, at the time, you know, we are dealing with an agreement, a TV agreement and agreements, like parachute payments of 25 years ago. So that we have to remember that as well. We're not talking about, this is an agreement everyone made a year ago. You know, this is something that was developed 25 years ago when revenues were so much less, so much less.

And, you know, is there a reason that full on beat, just be read in seven nil? Well, you could indicate that that is something to do with parachute payments.

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Where they were in league one, almost going out business, complete collapse of their club, from what, from where they were, it was a massive drop-off playing the likes of north Hampton town, relegating them. Um, so then building back up again, you're talking to a Leeds fan about that kind of thing. And they probably got so many memories of league one the way they had to build and scrap and fight the way back up again, compared to a CEO who then is like complete notes transfer, levees that in that just really vials me.

I think that when he came out with stuff like that, um, Christian

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And just seeing the headline. So I think there's been a, I think the premier league had a reserve in there, their position a little bit more now. Um, but you know, it's, uh, hopefully, hopefully that Tracy's report has been enough to actually get the conversation going and the football, like if I was the premier league, now I would try and get ahead of it.

I would actually go, I would look at it and go, okay, so we need to do, do something. They are very the premier league, obviously going to be very against a regulator. So that's where the discussion is really going to be. And I don't think they're going to have much choice. So I would look at it and say, okay, can we, can we look at the issues?

Can we try and fix the issues or at least get somewhere in between before I regulate to comes in and smashes it all. can we try and get it to a place where a regulator comes in and says, okay, well you saw it out. A lot of these issues we'll continue on that path. If I was at the premier league, I would probably be looking to do that and saying, okay, how do we get to a position where everyone's comfortable?

So when the regulator comes in and they, you know, they're there, I don't have that much to do.

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Um, so a lot of the questions are of course around, you know, in, in some of the fanbase is, is to say, well, how could we therefore make the cobblers as a business, more sustainable, but also keep a competitive budget now. I mean, there's been talk and we we've seen it on forums and Facebook and, and ideas of the new hotel end was an example that going back to the summer, there's also this, uh, suggestion or this idea of creating a microbrewery and, uh, what seems to be a stage, uh, for a live music venue and things like that.

Obviously they're all crowdfunding. And you've talked about that before in terms of support or led projects, but is there anything that the football club, or maybe even looking out and thinking about how do we there. Kind of at least get to the point where you're reducing the amount of money that David and yourself have to put into the club to keep it going.

Because as you've said on here, it's. unsustainable for you to keep doing.

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The, the it's quite interesting because the assumption is that we've got, we, aren't thinking about that every day. You know, the assumption is, is, oh, you know, it is what it is. And they're just, you know, turn up on a Saturday and watch the football and, uh, you know, and, and put the money in that. We, we talk about it every day and, and we work hard on the commercial team, work hard on raising more money, everything that you see.

And again, it's, it's that whole sort of living in the real world and not living in the real world, you know, it's, it's sort of, okay, so the stand is the perfect example of it, you know, and, and that will bring in additional revenue. It will also cost a lot of money to finish. So the reality is if you look at the financial models that we all done and, uh, and if you look at, say, for example, you know, let's look at the, a, a.

Okay. And we, we, you know, we have a bar here, we have six, we've talked about opening that up every, you know, every day. And, and again, the, the, the romance of that is wonderful. The reality that is something different, you know, because there are some people that would come to it. There are some people that would, would not come to it and you have to balance the, the weather that people would come to.

And the investment required for someone to come to it. We, we think six fields as an, as a location for a, you know, a, uh, uh, a 24 hour bar or a seven day a week bar is a challenge. You know, there's, there's people have a lot of other choices just in this area that are set up more for bars. So the reason pubs are successful in neighborhoods is typically because they are neighborhood pubs.

Yeah. Typically six fields is a destination location. So what, what does that mean? Well, a destination location needs means you need to have really good public transport from where you come from or, um, or, you know, or walking distance, you know, it's not it's, we've got great parking it, but a pub is not going to be built around a great park in because the reality is people are going to have to drive there.

And what, what do you want them to do? You want them to drink and you don't want to drink and drive. So the reality is that creates its own challenges. So that's not to say a pub wouldn't work, but then you've got to look at the investment level needs to be put in, you know? And so who pays for that? Who pays for that investment level?

Who, who, who makes that investment in into to increase the income. Sometimes I feel that ideas come up and it's just, well, you'll get, you'll get increased revenue, but then how do you pay for that? How do you, how do you invest in that in the first place? So the reality is we do it every day. James is always coming up.

Caroline is always coming up with ideas of, of, of increase in revenues, um, uh, stature, et cetera. And, and what can we do? You know? And we, we do things that people don't even see, like renting car parks and things like that. That's, that's all to do with increase in revenues and, and, and, uh, and we do it all the time because the reality is myself and David.

If, if James comes up with an idea that reduced his hour requirement by 50 grand, then James definitely gets a pat on the back. There's no question about it. But if James comes to us with an idea of putting a million quid in and reducing our requirement each year, You know, 50 grand, then we've got to look at it on his marriage, you know, and say, is that a good investment decision for the football club?

And, and that's what you have to look at all the time. And, you know, and, uh, and it's, it's that balance of what, what, what is a good investment and what isn't a good investment, you know, the, the, the new hotel. And, and, and, and as I said to Tom, from, from the very start, you know, we're not experts. The reason, the reason I've said it from the start is that it's not for us to run as I have no idea.

James has no idea, or in regards to running a music venue. So this could be a fantastic idea. Absolutely wonderful idea. But. Well, we don't know how to run one. We don't know how to develop one. We don't know what the market's like. And the truth is this is a football clubs, because most of your money goes on.

Pliers football clubs are very small staffs. You know, if you look at this football club and you think, oh, there's 15 people working there. If you look at all the departments across the football club, they are, they are, you know, one person in the department, one to two people, one and a half people, et cetera, et cetera.

So for me to suddenly tell you want to stop what you're doing in running the club, and then let's work on a music venue that we have no idea. That's why it was, you know, Tom had the idea and I say, great, we'll support the idea, but we can't, you can't expect us to invest in it. You can't expect us to, to invest time in it and money in it until we know a lot more detail on weather.

And this isn't a. Us as owners. This isn't about the man, this is a club decision. This is what's in the best interest of the football club. And, um, so w w w you know, we'll always get criticized. Oh, you know, the telling the fans to run it and all that kind of stuff. No, we're not, we're not selling, we're not saying that at all, but if it's an idea, come to, we're happy to look at any ideas and we would invest in the right things, but it's, you know, at them as with most football clubs, our decision is to invest in, in, on the plan side.

And luckily that seems to be working right now with, you know, with when the top three and, and it's been a good start, a good first half of the season. And we've now got a replicate that, and, and listen, there's no two ways about it without our investment overall, we wouldn't be in the top. You know, I'm not saying, I'm not saying we need credit for that, but that's an investment that we've got a certain amount of money every year that we feel we can put into the football club.

I call investment very loosely. Um, we can put into the football club and we decided to put it in that area. It just means that we don't have another heart familial to build a bar or, you know, I'm not, I'm sorry about that. That doesn't it. If it doesn't suit some people around the place, but you know, w w I, sometimes you gotta sometimes look at the positives and understand there is investment in the football club that just happens to be in the plan.

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And there was a question from a Cabela's fan asking Karen basically about the way that the club was funded. And he just went through essentially what we can all go through on company's house, um, to explain it, but it came, he still came across as being a fairly negative. Sort of thing, but I think on the basis of what you've said about, you know, it's a football wide thing and the way that owner investment is the way that it, it goes on at the moment when it comes to the way that your sales and David put money into the club, and then it shows in the book.

Do you, do you feel as direct as loans? I mean, do you think it's fair, the negativity that you get about it being shown in that way rather than because you sometimes see people saying, well, other club owners decide to put it in as, uh, they turn it into shares or, or however they do it that way. Yeah.

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So I would look at it, uh, w w what amazes me is like, I think, you know, I think you look at my United situation and I ain't got the same situation, but to make their situation a lot worse, you know, the football clubs play paying interest on their money, you know, or they're taking out in dividends, et cetera, et cetera.

The one thing that sometimes you look at David looks at, look, look, so they, and I look at it and go, oh yeah, we're put, we've put money in. We've not taken any interest out. We don't take salaries out and we're still getting credit. So I was, cause we're not gifting the club money. I don't, I, the truth is I don't think it's, I don't, I think most football fans or reasonable football fans would not have, would, would, would not have a problem with, with, with somebody saying, well, I'm going to put money in.

But, um, I would like to get out at some point, I don't know when or how or blah, blah, blah, but I would like to at least think I'm going to get it back out and I'm not just going to gift it to the football club. And when you're talking, like, listen, I've done, I've spent a lot of time. And, and, and w we probably put money in, in certain areas that we're not gonna, we're not compensated for, and don't go against our loans, et cetera, et cetera. I, but, but when you're, when you're talking about decent amounts of money, like, you know, three, four, 5 million, 6 million quit, . Yeah, you could be aggrieved a little bit that, that somebody says that you should gift it. And you're a bad person cause you, because you haven't gifted it, but that's football, isn't it that's opinions.

That's, you know, that's, that's that, that's just, that's just football. Like the reality is very S you know, you can only listen to certain so much, and you can only, you know, take in, take in so many opinions. But if someone has said to me, you're a bad person, or David's a bad person, because you haven't gifted sick 5 million quid to the football club.

When you never said you would ever do that, then, then that's their opinion. And it's never going to affect my life because I think it's a very unrealistic opinion. You know, I, I, you know, as everyone knows, um, you know, a Western fan, I don't look at the Westham owners and say, you should put in, you should put your money in, and then you're gifted to.

Absolutely. No, uh, you know, if you put money and you get it back out, if you can get it now, I'm not expecting anyone to, to get it back out and do anything dodgy or, you know, do it to the detriment of the football club. But you're not even not, not charging interest on loans over six years is, is a gift in itself like bloody L like, well, sorry, I don't even know if I'm allowed to say that, but, but, um, but, but let's be realistic about this.

That's not, you know, again, it's it's to do with the real world and the, and the fantasy world. Um, and, and, and to be fair, I know Simon, I know Simon very well Plymouth, and he did, he did, um, uh, convert some of, some of his loans into equity, not all of them, but some of them, and there was a decent amount of money, but I understand why he did it.

And I talked to Simon quite a bit and, and fair play to Simon and, and, and for doing that. But I do believe that Simon. Simon eventually we'll, we'll look for some return on that, or at least be thinking he might get some return on that at some point. Um, we all do it. We all look at it. We all, um, we all look as owners.

We all look at it and hope for return. I'm sure the guy buried it. I'm sure. The guy I'm sure. Mel data, that Darby thought he was going to get a return, but we also write those checks thinking we might not say it.

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See you later. The alternative is of course everything that we're not going to go into it massively. It's just there as a thing of the whole thing about the redevelopment of the land behind the stand. Again, it's a way of you getting that money back in, in some way, shape or form. And then the argument then becomes, well, how does it benefit the club and X, Y, and Z.

We haven't got time to go into it, but I can understand exactly where you're coming from because I look at it and go, well, of course, you're going to want to get your money back at some point. And it doesn't matter whether as you said, it's down as a director alone, or whether it's a share at the end of the day, you put a price tag on the football club for when you want to come to sell it.

And if somebody is prepared to pay, pay that money, then you take it and say, thank you very much. Check the round and go there. Isn't really.

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The the, every owner's responsible to give the football club money. It makes no sense. And then we go to like how people also, not only do people want owners to gift football clubs, money, they actually want then to decide how the owner spends that money. They said, it's quite unbelievable. It, when we talk about unreal, unrealistic view points, but, but I it's understandable.

It's just football. That's what we know what football fans are, is, you know, in general, I'm realistic because they have no consequences to those thoughts. Do they? That's not, you know, the con you know, they football fans in general want to come and watch a game, watch a football club or football team went on a Saturday.

And, and, and they're not necessarily in the majority of football clubs, don't really care how that happens. You know, and, and what goes on in the background and, and, and if the, if the football club is sustainable, then that to, to most football fans, that's a bonus as well. But if they're losing, you know, look up perfect example, Newcastle, you know, Mike actually, Mike, Ashley actually probably ran Newcastle pretty well in terms of sustainability, but now you're going to have a situation where they're spending, you know, a lot of money, like 25 million quid on a 30 year old, you know, sending a forward who nobody would believe that you'd spend 25 million quid on.

I'm probably giving him a ridiculous amount of money on a weekly basis. No, no one cares about that. No one really cares. Well, the majority of new Costco fans, I'm sure don't really care where that money's coming. And what's funding now, and we've all got our own opinions on that. And we've all got all our concerns about that.

But majority of football fans, don't actually worry about the football finances as much as, as people think, but, but the reality is, and it goes full, just goes back to the, to the review. And the, and the key to football is, is, is take away those issues take away the requirement for him for owner of investment.

The truth is we, myself and David have talked about this, especially since Tracy crowds report. And this is where, you know, we lose sight a little bit of on the east end is a very good example. And you're right. We probably don't have time to talk about that right now, but I'm happy to talk about that. So if, if for example, and on average, we've put in, you know, overall we for half 1,000,750 grand.

Yeah. If the football club was sustainable and we, and we, and we'd said, okay, we've got that money to put in. Then all of a sudden it changes that dynamic at that investment because all of a sudden you could invest, like everyone complains about, you know, everyone complains or not everyone, but certain people complain about the stadium.

All right. So, so we, we look at it and you look at you, look at that and you go, okay. So we're, we're already putting out money into the plan department, rightly or wrongly, et cetera, et cetera. But now James comes to us in 70 to a hundred grand to, to, to change the seats. Like if we, if the football club were sustainable and Jamie said, we need to change the seats, it becomes a whole different decision for an owner because then you're looking to invest or not even change the seats.

ld a let's build, let's build:

Like we've got these standards, a prime example for us. It's a primer. You know, we've got a tremendous amount of money tied up in the football club, which everyone, which everyone's everyone knows about. So what, so, but we need to track would be nice to have our own training ground. It would be nice to fix the seats would be nice to, you know, improve the, you know, the facility.

But do we, do we invest above and beyond what we've already got in it? Because those are nice to have, or do we actually look to, or, and we've also got a build an east stand don't forget. So do we look to do that? And I know some people will say, oh, you said you would do it from your own money, which is, which is, which is we're still going to do.

But we never said we're going to gift the club money for that. And there's bring fence money is an absolute falsity in terms of, you know, we've, and it's just a, it was an interview that I did six years ago, which has been dragged up and smacked me over the head a hundred times. But it was actually false in terms of what I said.

I never said, bring fence money, no way, shape or form, but anyway, and we've still got the money for the stand we've always got, but we would be bad custodians of this football. If we recklessly and also custodians of our own money, if we recklessly said, let's just build the stand and then not look to not look to recoup some of that money back for the football club.

You know, we, we, we still have to remember that that that land was now has never been owned by the football club. We got that Malana and the reason we got that land is we needed to increase the asset base for the football club. So then the football club could, could, could, could potentially pay us back as loners, but they certainly like, again, those are decisions.

If there's money in the bank, there may be, we pay ourselves back. If there's money in the bank, maybe we get a training ground. Maybe we get seats. We don't, we're not looking at this. And it's been, it's been perceived, always that, you know, again, being whacked over the head a hundred times, but this is, this is a.

You know, some people, I think, think we're going to change our lives with this. You know, this isn't our financial portfolio, the football club is part of the ownership portfolio and we've, but we're trying to do the best for the football club. And if, and we still believe, and I've said this from the start and the Tracy crouch report is so important for that.

The biggest thing that killed travel clubs is, is, is that and outside debt and the less that you can have on a football club, the stronger position you're going to be in. So why would we not make decisions which reduced the debt, whether the debts to us that that's the HMRC that that's to you Charles, or you Danny, it doesn't really matter, but a football club without debt is a much stronger position for.

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We can all agree on, um, but what, what can we do now? What can fans listening to this do now to show their support for the

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So it will be about fans right into their MPS to say that they need support this. As it passes through the government process, we need to get this into legislation. And then it's trying to speak to the premier league owners and directors and chief execs and try and get them to be a bit more generous.

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Um, and we'll speak to again soon, Kelvin

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