Training Ground Update

Dear Trust Member,

Update on land on south west side of Marlow Road, used by Wycombe Wanderers FC as a training ground facility.

The Trust Board acknowledges that the subject of the training ground is an important one and that the discussion at last week’s AGM has prompted further questions and some uncertainty from members and supporters leading to some misinformation on social media.

As a supporter-owned club we ask that members understand that commercially sensitive discussions must occasionally take place, sometimes over a long period, but wherever possible the Trust is committed to as much transparency on issues as possible. To that end we are clarifying some facts regarding the training ground that could only be circulated now.

When did the deal take place?

Trust members were updated in February 2013 about the need to quickly raise cash.

A survey of Trust members was held and over 90% of respondents (402 at 28th Feb 2013) supported the sale and agreed to leave the matter in the Board’s hands.

The sale and lease-back agreement was signed on 28th March 2013 between Frank Adams Legacy Ltd. (“FALL”) and Ivor Beeks, Sandra Kane and Camberwick Properties Ltd (Ian Keizner). The land stopped being an asset belonging to the Group and became the subject of a lease and rental deal of 10 years with repayments fixed for the first 2 years, thereafter subject to increase in line with the Retail Price Index.

A special meeting of the Trust Members ratified the sale on 10th April 2013. Questions were asked and a Q&A note was compiled and is still on the Trust website via this link

Have the members of the Training Ground Funders group changed since then?

No change, they are still the same, and known as The Training Ground Funders (TGF),

Why did the deal need to take place?

Simply put, the only trading income generated within the group was through the football club and not enough was coming in to meet liabilities. A major restructuring and cost saving exercise had taken place but, in spite of this, just 9 months after the Trust buy-out, it was clear that the Group needed an urgent fresh external injection of cash to survive.

The only freely available asset the Group owned was the Training Ground facility and it was agreed that the ownership (not training use) be changed to urgently bring cash in at great speed. This was not a loan but a sale then lease-back deal, with a rent to be paid, that also included a right to buy-back at a price based on a fixed formula calculation of value.

The deal meant survival, in the same way as later funds have been required to keep the Group going. The Group balance sheet was presented at The Trust AGM last Thursday clearly showing that the Club / Group has continued to need further injections of funds from:
• Chairboys Funders (secured on Adams Park);
• Private investors (unsecured); and
• Recently, the Community Share Offer (or “Share Scheme”).

Why did the Training Ground Funders do the deal?

Simply, to ensure the survival of WWFC at March 2013. The TGF have always been committed to supporting the financial stability of the Trust, FALL and WWFC group of companies. Funding was provided to purchase the training ground purely with the objective of aiding the Club at a time of financial constraints after the Trust acquired the football Club.

Who received the money from the buyers?

The legal agreements were between the Training Ground funders and Frank Adams Legacy Ltd. (“FALL”) with the money received by FALL, and then passed immediately to WWFC. The funds were utilised within 30 minutes of receipt into WWFC to pay debts due that day and avoid the club going into administration.

What is the payment history?

FALL’s income and ability to pay its debts is completely linked to WWFC, and payments from WWFC to FALL. The agreement was that the Club would pay a monthly amount to cover the Adams Park rent and an additional amount for the training ground rent.

FALL’s Board has clarified the position between FALL and WWFC on Adams Park lease and rent that funded FALL’s training ground rent payments as follows:
• FALL agreed a 100% rent holiday for WWFC in the year ended 30th June 2014 due to WWFC’s financial difficulties in generating sufficient cash to pay the rent due;
• FALL were informed by WWFC that this was a situation that was not completely remedied in the year ended 30th June 2015 and FALL agreed a further rent holiday of 50% of the rent;
• FALL understands that the current financial forecasts of WWFC allow for the payment of the full rent for the year ended 30th June 2016 and look forward to receiving the agreed monthly payment of £17,500 during this period, allowing FALL to meet its own financial commitments. These payments to be made on or before the 25th of each month.

This meant FALL was able to make regular payments until February 2014, and WWFC was able to fund three more in early 2015. All payments by WWFC to FALL to cover rents then stopped after that time and FALL was not able to pay the training ground rent.

Under the terms of the lease this would mean FALL was in default but the TGF worked actively with FALL and the Club to find ways for FALL to make the payments.

When did the TGF’s solicitors issue a default notice?

Reluctantly, the TGF instructed their solicitors to issue a notice to protect its own position, on 6th August 2015, because FALL was in arrears with rent due and not paid. This meant that the option for the Club to buy-back the facility had come to an end.

A 30 day period of grace was granted for the Group, to come up with realistic proposals to rectify the broken contract. This was extended by the TGF to give the Group more time to arrange its finances.

What has happened since?

Negotiations have been completed to structure a deal that would work for all companies in the Group and the TGF to sort the financial arrangements and allow the Club to continue to train at the facility for as long as it wanted, and have a buy-back option re-instated.

Whilst the negotiations took place it was vital that matters remained confidential for legal and commercially sensitive reasons and we had to follow good corporate governance. This means that the matter was not something that the members of any of the Boards of the Group companies could share with members.

What is the new deal?

The deal was agreed in late October 2015 with the TGF confirming their agreement to the points below in a letter to The Trust on 3rd November 2015.

1. Rent Payments
These were the responsibility of FALL, and now re-negotiated. The TGF have agreed to WWFC paying the monthly rent direct, as of October 2015, and subject to 6 months’ notice to cease rental.

The rent owed by FALL at the end of September 2015 (£41,000) are to be written off subject to 10 months of satisfactory repayments of the rent by WWFC.

2. Agreement in place for WWFC to train on the facility
Nothing has changed about the land as a training ground facility. WWFC now pay the rent and continue to train at the facility, and has to give 6 months’ notice of wishing to cease renting the facility for training.

3. The Club’s ability to buy the facility back
The TGF are committed to the goal of reselling the training ground back to the Club at the earliest opportunity subject to a mutually agreed financial consideration should the football club still require the facility. To be negotiated in future but the Group have a signed letter confirming the option.

4. The intentions of the TGF
The TGF objective isn’t, and never was, to derive unreasonable profits at the expense of the Club from this transaction but to support the above group of companies.

In the event that the Club decides it did not require a training ground facility, perhaps because of artificial surface considerations at Adams Park, and the training ground was ultimately sold to a third party then the TGF would allocate a share of any potential profits being generated back to the Club. To be negotiated in future but the Group have a signed letter confirming the option.

This is a full summary of the Training Ground situation, and we would like to remind members that there are three ways to discuss the training ground or any other group financial matter: 

1. An informal, “drop-in surgery” open meeting to discuss all financial matters and the accounts on Wednesday 9th December in Scores/ Monty’s between 6.30pm to 8.30pm, where Mark Burrell (Group Finance Committee Chairman) and Martyn Broughton (Group Treasurer) will be available,
2. There will also be a Trust table in the new reception area prior to the Notts County match on Tuesday 15th December where Mark Burrell will be present and happy to discuss any further questions, and
3. Meanwhile, you can contact Mark on: mark@wycombewandererstrust.com

The Board of Wycombe Wanderers Trust