The Iron held their Annual General Meeting for shareholders at Glanford Park on Monday night.Chairman Peter Swann, directors Keith Wagstaff, Jason Oxenforth and Karin Swann, and general manager David Beeby addressed those present on a number of issues.
The ordinary business passed very quickly with the accounts approved, Jason Oxenforth unanimously re-elected as director, Karin Swann elected as a director, Grant Thornton approved as the club's auditors, John Godfrey re-elected as president and the vice-presidents re-elected on block.
Then, shareholders approved doubling the club's authorised share capital from £2-million to £4-million.
Following on from that, the chairman hosted an hour-long question and answer session with shareholders. Dominating the agenda was the club's proposed move to a new stadium.
Swann explained the importance of making the club profitable in the long run. He said a new stadium will generate 1,000 jobs indirectly and directly. The club's staff will double, as he looks to make the Iron self-sustaining. The key is being able to run the club as a 24/7 business which doesn't rely as heavily on matchdays.
He said that plans for the stadium go in on January 7, and the club are hoping to have that a decision in April, with work beginning on the new stadium in May - with an aim of having it finished 52 weeks later.
When asked about how Dave Syers and Rory Fallon's recoveries from injury were going, he said: “They are both progressing and it is too early to make any sort of prognosis on return."
The subject of the questions soon turned back to the new stadium, and grant funding. Swann explained there were many options for the club - and others are cropping up left, right and centre. He said: "We are in a good position. It is great timing to get the Lincolnshire Lakes outline planning and a perfect time for the club to move. We are going to be at the centre of quite a large area in the next five or ten years."
One shareholder expressed concern about the size of the squad, but Swann said it was a neccessity because of the volume of injuries the club has had. He stated: "We had 15 players injured at one time. Some of the squad are either very young professionals and youth players too. We only just had enough players for the FA Cup last week. The ideal squad is 18-22 players, with two or three loans on top. The quality of Mark Robins' signings has been very high and we're starting to see the injured players return now, which will make us stronger."
When asked, David Beeby explained that there is no limit on emergency loans (short term/three-month maximum), but Swann said the club were trying to operate as shrewdly as they can regarding loans.
When asked if there was a possibility of loan signings being made permament, Swann said: "I'll leave that to Mark Robins. He has presented a list of players he wants to go for, and identified who we'd like to ship out too. Of course, it will be down to money, to a point but Mark has done superbly in his first ten games and we both want to build for the future."
Swann refuted speculation Torquay received £80,000 as part of the deal bringing striker Billy Kee from Burton to Glanford Park, saying: "That's more than we paid for him in total!"
He praised the impact of Isaiah Osbourne and said the club are in talks about the midfielder's future, with the former Blackpool man's short-term deal set to expire in January.
Talk soon returned to the club's new stadium plans, and pitch size was brought up. The chairman said the club were looking to make it UEFA standard size. Not only because it will benefit the first team, but so we can be considered to host international matches too.
There was a long discussion about the academy set-up and Swann said how, as the club moves forward, an aim is to have an U21 side. "Our academy is going to be fantastic and will give us the opportunity to bring those players forward," he stated.
Tributes were paid to late vice-chairman Rex Garton and the job he did for the club for several decades. A shareholder proposed naming a box, stand or bar in his memory, and Swann responded: "We'll look at that, absolutely. Rex was a gentleman, and he had a fantastic footballing brain. There was a lot more to his life than just football too. He was a great person and it was a pleasure to spend time with him."
David Beeby was asked if the club had considered bringing the club shop back in-house, and responded: "We've decided to continue with JustSport for next season until we move into the new stadium, when we will assess our options." Swann added: "It's an inbetween time at the moment but something we will be putting a lot of thought and effort into because we need flexibility."
A shareholder asked why does the shirt design change every year, and it was explained it was part of JustSport's contract with the club.
Parking at the new stadium was discussed, and Swann explained how the travel plan was really important to the club. There are 900 spaces in the plan but it will probably become nearer 1,200. Bus routes, footpaths and cycle access will all be in place.
With the club leaving Glanford Park, the stadium will be re-valued. Swann re-iterated that there was no rush to sell. He said: "It's an area that's in demand, but we'll be ready at the right time."
A shareholder asked if a club shop in town, encompassing a ticket office, would be considered and the chairman said it's something the club are looking into, but it has to work financially. He can certainly see how it can work though and it helps raise the club's profile too.
Suggestions were made about improvements to the club's advertising, and appealing to people who aren't already regulars at Glanford Park. It was agreed the club need a higher profile and need to capitalise on all the press we receive as we move to a new stadium. Swann said the club would certainly do their best with that.
Christopher Swann, who was present and who joined the board following the AGM, was welcomed by all the shareholders. The chairman added that the club are starting to look towards the new stadium and what we need director-wise. "Operational directors who have been there and done it would be good for us," he said. It was also explained that the new stadium will prove an attraction to potential directors too.
The subject of safe-standing in the new stadium was raised and Swann said if the regulations for that matter in Championship grounds change, then the club will adapt to the rules.
Finally, he ended by saying the club were planning a forum in the New Year providing shareholders the chance to speak to manager Mark Robins.