Trust Directors Talk Through Their Roles – 2

David Smith 1Here we hear from David Smith – who was co-opted onto the Trust Board to fill a vacancy earlier this year. The following was published in the Stevenage match programme on Saturday.

“As the most recently appointed Trust director I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce myself and outline the contribution I hope I make to the successful operation of the Trust and, ultimately, the football club.

I am a solicitor and have been a partner in London-based firms since 1985. My practice focuses on advising companies, public and private, on their business activities – whether that is raising capital, buying other companies or being taken over by them, or general day-to-day legal compliance issues.

Having advised the Trust informally for a number of years, particularly on governance issues, I was delighted when I was invited earlier this year to fill a vacancy on the Trust board itself. Since then I have had the privilege of advising members of the Board on various legal issues, including for example the formal relationship between the Trust, the club and Frank Adams Legacy Limited (through which the Trust owns Adams Park), the financial ramifications of Jordon Ibe’s transfer from Liverpool to Bournemouth, potential fund raising activities, and on how freely the Trust is able to discuss publicly matters relating to the club.

I have lived in the Wycombe area for nearly 30 years and started following the club in 1999. As the father of two young children I was immediately impressed by the focus the club placed on family and community involvement and as I came to know the club better, I came to appreciate the tremendous history of the club and the importance of that history to the supporters, the club, and the community in which it is rooted. I firmly believe that the money which has poured into the upper reaches of the game in the last 20 years has distorted the relationship between many football clubs and their communities; clubs like ours have an opportunity to show the way to others in maintaining those relationships and demonstrating that the game doesn’t have to be just about money.

But of course we can only show that way forward by surviving and flourishing, on and off the field, and while the cash that has swamped the upper divisions has enabled the larger clubs to flourish financially, it has also caused enormous difficulties for clubs such as ours. The fan ownership model gives us a large – and valuable – level of independence, which I believe we must cherish, but puts enormous pressures on all involved with the club. As a corporate finance lawyer I am well used to looking at the financial condition of companies and advising boards of directors on their duties and responsibilities and I believe my experience complements well the range of backgrounds and skills possessed by the other members of the Trust board.

The Trust and the club are maturing after four seasons of fan ownership, but the environment in which we operate is changing rapidly, and so are the challenges we face. I believe that the club is fortunate now to be able to face those challenges under the ownership of its fans through the Trust, and I have been impressed by the dedication, commitment and application of the other members of the Trust board and the many other volunteers who help to keep the club operating effectively. I hope that my legal background will add value to the role of the Trust, and assist the Trust, and the club, in overcoming the many challenges that lie ahead.”