Following the decision of long-serving club chairman Paul Baker to stand down at the weekend, the Cheltenham Town Board have produced the following Q&A guide to keep supporters informed with regard to the current constitution of the football club. The questions have been compiled from some of the queries received from supporters and the Robins Trust over the past couple of days.
Q. Paul Baker has resigned as chairman. What happens now?
A. First of all, the Board should clarify that the chairman has decided to stand down from his role but there has not been a change of ownership. All of the club's major shareholders retain their shares including Paul Baker. However, not all of the club's larger shareholders have any interest in being directors - Paul Baker has decided to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the club in order to focus on other interests, leaving the management of the football club to the Board of Directors and senior management staff.
Q. When will there be an announcement regarding a new chairman?
A. Contrary to recent reports there is no Board meeting tonight (May 10) to choose a new chairman. Discussions between the Board and major shareholders have been going on over the past few days and will continue. The club board will be meeting informally this week and representatives of the Board have also arranged meetings with the Robins Trust. The Trust will be involved in the process but their situation is complicated by the fact that they have no Fan Elected Director at present.
Q. What will happen to the position of Fan Elected Director?
A. The Robins Trust own roughly 10% of the shares in the club and since 2015 the Board has reached an agreement for the Trust to put forward a Fan Elected Director (FED). This position has proved to be a big success with first Clive Gowing then Murry Toms making a significant contribution to the management of the club. The club board support the role of an FED and are keen for this arrangement to continue but the Trust will need to hold an election for a new FED in accordance with their constitution. That person would then need to be registered as a director and would need to complete the Football League Owners and Directors Test. The only stipulation placed upon this role by the football club is that ideally the FED will have some business skills, like those of Clive and Murry, that can enhance the role and make a significant contribution to the club.
Q. Will things change when a new chairman is announced?
A. A new chairman will hopefully bring additional drive and maybe a change in ideas but the ownership structure is likely to remain. The club is owned by a number of people (there are over 300 shareholders in total) and no one person has overall control. Under those conditions the office of chairman is a largely symbolic one. The chairman runs Board meetings, handles media duties on behalf of the Board and is usually one of the directors to have direct contact with the football management team.
Q. Why has the club not yet issued a retained list?
A. The manager is still in discussions with one or two players but we aim to provide an update later on today.
Q. How is the club operating without a chairman?
A. All club staff were updated on Monday regarding day to day operations. The club has a vice-chairman - David Bloxham - and everything is continuing as normal. For example, interim budgets have been drawn up for next season and the manager is already holding discussions with potential new signings. The chairman does not make all the decisions but these are made collectively by the board.