Manchester City Plc 2006 AGM
This took place on Thursday December 7th at 10:00am but the really big news happened before the meeting with the news on BBC Radio Manchester (I really do listen, Ian) that City were in talks with a potential investor. The cynic in me (and there’s more cynic in me than there is water) thought that the timing was a little suspicious but who wouldn’t be delighted with the right sort of investment.
After tea and coffee at Asda we wandered over to CoMS. There was a very good crowd at the meeting, probably around 400 which, like last year was held in a tent on the concourse. I have to compliment the club on the way they do the logistics; you can see and hear and there are plenty of people with microphones for people to ask questions.
The board, including new signing Mark Boler, plus Bernard Halford and Stuart Pearce were sat at the top table. The AGM is a formal meeting where there are a number of resolutions to be voted on including formal adoption of the accounts (and it’s amazing how many accounts don’t have parents) and re-election of the directors.
The first thing was a statement by John Wardle that went over much the same ground as the one in the AGM. He said that just surviving in the Premiership was not classed as success at Manchester City. He also mentioned the possible investor but, as expected, said that things were not yet at a stage where they could name names. He praised the Academy and the City in the Community programme and no-one could argue with that.
Then it was into the first resolution, namely the adoption of the accounts. I had a number of questions on the figures but didn’t really get any answers that I was happy with. As an example, I asked how much of the £5m fall in deferred income was attributable to lower season ticket sales. The answer was a long discourse on falling attendances in the Premiership and what we are doing about it, when all I wanted was a simple figure.
The next item was the re-election of two of the directors; Mark Boler & Dennis Tueart and this was duly done. KPMG were re-appointed as auditors and the resolution about the ability of the directors to issue share capital that no one understands was also passed. Given that the directors have very close to 50% of the shares then it would be very surprising if the resolutions didn’t go the way they wanted.
With the formal business out of the way, we moved onto the general Q&A. I’m not going to go through all the questions but some of the highlights were:
What were the board doing about Distin? The response was that they didn’t want him to leave and were still talking but would talk about any offers.
What was the name of the stadium, someone asked? AM said that this was dictated by the council and we had been given a few choices but that City of Manchester stadium was the one they felt was best. There was a question about naming rights and it was revealed that we could name the stands under the terms of the lease but not the stadium itself. The situation was under review.
Someone asked whether SP’s attitude to referees encourages them to fail to give us key decisions and that it would be nice to hear him say sometimes that the ref got it wrong. SP laughed and said he called it as he saw it and wasn’t going to change.
There was a question about the sale of SWP and the fact that we would have made a loss if we hadn’t sold him. AM said that we had made an operating profit and that some of the largest expenses in the accounts were accounting transactions, which made things look worse than they were. You should have read my articles Alistair.
An interesting question was asked about any provisions in place for repayment of the loans if the worst were to happen to John Wardle. This caused some chuckles from the top table but the answer was that it had been considered.
Our non-ownership of the ground was the subject of another question and whether this affected our ability to attract investment. AM replied that possibly it did but the upside was that we wouldn’t be attractive to property speculators.
The question of how the club could encourage share ownership was raised. AM rightly replied that it was impossible for the club to manage what brokers did. It would be easier in many ways if there was only one main shareholder but as there wasn’t they would publicise a number of web-sites that had identified suitable brokers. We have already done this on the Supporters Trust blog so if you want to buy shares then please look here.
The question of the Supporters’ Trust was raised and AM said the club were open-minded and were in dialogue with Supporters Direct.
The UEFA Cup final was mentioned, with a plea that it would be nice to take part in it at our own stadium. “Message received & understood” replied SP.
However the best question came when the MC, Paul McDowell said “This is going to be the last question” after a relatively short time. The questioner asked “Why is this going to be the last question?” and John Wardle, to his great credit, allowed the session to go on. I was critical last year over the cutting short of the Q&A session but have to say well done to the board for not doing so this year. There were also some excellent questions but the bloke who clearly thought it was “open mike” night at the Comedy Club was probably the most memorable, even if no one could work out what his question was!
We trooped out to have tea and coffee and I met some great people, many of whom I previously knew only by name but finally got the chance to put a face to the name. We continued over at the City Social (and a jolly nice place it is too if you’ve never been there) and that was that. The big question is will we still see the same faces on the top table next year? Time will tell.