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Chairman Paul Baker: Thursday is a pivotal night in Cheltenham Town's history

15 April 2015

Robins chairman Paul Baker has described Thursday night’s Robins Trust vote as a potentially pivotal moment in the club’s history.

Members will meet to approve the investment of the proceeds of the estate of Bryan Jacob (£222,015.88) in Cheltenham Town Football Club shares

Three formal proposals for how and when that money will be invested in Cheltenham Town Football Club will then be presented. For full details click here

“Thursday is massively important and we are talking about potential investment into the football club of £200,000, or nothing,” Baker said.

“The Robins Trust was always set up to raise funds to buy shares in the club to earn a place on the board for an elected member of the Trust. 

“Given our current financial situation, which is not through lack of good financial management, but simply because of the incredibly challenging and difficult season we are enduring, it’s really important that the full amount is invested in the club at this time.

Baker assured supporters the money would be used “very well and very wisely.”

“If it just sits in a bank account it won’t help anyone, surely it was Bryan’s wish for the money to be used wisely for the ultimate benefit of the football club which he loved and supported with a passion’ he said.

 “There are a small number of fans who it appears want to give the board a bloody nose saying ‘it’s your fault we are in this position, so why should we bail you out’, which is very sad when you think of this board’s track record both in terms of the huge success we have enjoyed and the almost complete redevelopment of our stadium all of which have been achieved without incurring debt.

“This investment is critical for the financial stability of the club going forward and additionally it secures a fan board placement forever as well as a fan position on three or our four major committees, namely, Finance, Operations and Commercial. We really are talking about real engagement with the Trust in the future decision making of the club, something I am keen to encourage and expand upon’. 

“That would be a real positive because we need more people involved who are passionate and committed.

“At the meeting on Thursday, everyone needs to remember we are all here for the same purpose: the good of Cheltenham Town, not the good of Paul Baker or the Trust or anyone else, it’s for the club.

 “Giving someone a bloody nose is just a waste of time and won’t help OUR club, we must all look at the bigger picture.’

Baker said that a £500,000 investment the club received five years ago has now been used, making the Trust’s role even more important.

 “We did well with our last investment, reaching the play-offs twice,” he said. “While we have made losses this year, we have covered them with the investment and they were budgeted for so we haven’t got big debts or any bank loans and any loans are to me and another director.

 “Financially the club has been well run in difficult circumstances, but the private investment has now run out and we no longer have access to a bank overdraft which many businesses rely on to cushion cash flow demands, banks it seems have no desire to help football clubs sadly.’

 “We did have an overdraft of £250,000 which was converted into a loan and this has since been repaid. The Trust money would be used as our overdraft facility and used to stabilise the club over the summer months and next season’. 

“Every business has peaks and troughs and if we have that security and reassurance, it’ll give us all confidence moving forward.”

Without the full investment, Baker admitted Cheltenham will struggle to operate during the close season and the playing budget for next season will also be affected.

“This money will not be frittered away and it won’t pay players’ wages or repay directors’ loans, it’ll be used for the financial stability of the club,” he said.

“Bryan Jacob loved the club and his legacy is far more than securing a supporter on the board – it can safeguard the club itself.

“If Trust members decide not to invest this money on Thursday night it will be a knockout blow, it will in my opinion mean the Trust membership have no trust in the board, frankly, if they have no trust, we will all have to reconsider our positions at the club, the club we love and have given so much too over so many years.

“The Trust will then be welcome to take over and run the club and I and others will be free to watch our club without stress, worry and sleepless nights’. I wish them every success.’

“We can all come out of this smiling and move forward positively, whatever division we are in, all together and more engaged than ever with the Trust.

“It should also be remembered that we have a home fan base of 2,000-2,500 fans and the Trust has around 200 members so it will be a very small percentage of our fanbase deciding club’s future. That is not the Trust’s fault of course, it is a shame more fans did not sign up’.

“It’s a critically important meeting, I can’t stress than enough. We have had an awful season and nobody wanted it or expected it, but we have to deal with it.

“I am still up for this and the board are still up for it, but we need fresh blood, energy and enthusiasm and that can come from the Trust. I am confident that together we can manage the club professionally and sustainably.

“We need to look at the bigger picture because we have done our very best as a board and we are confident we can look forward with positivity next season with the investment.”

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