Hunslet have opted to remain supporter-owned, rather than adopt a proposed Hybrid Supporter/Investor ownership model.
The Parksiders, who are seen as among the front-runners to secure promotion from Betfred League 1 in 2020 under Head Coach Gary Thornton, confirmed the decision following a meeting in a well-attended Phoenix Bar late last week.
A question and answer session with non-executive director Damian Irvine – who, with investor Jason Peterkin, has been conducting a `due diligence’ review since November – was preceded by a presentation from outgoing chairman Neil Hampshire, who explained that following the period of due diligence it had been decided that the club would remain fully supporter owned, largely because only a small number of investors had expressed interest. And, as all were in favour of the club retaining a majority shareholding, the work required to set up a separate Investment Group company to support a Hybrid Supporter/Investor ownership model wasn’t deemed cost effective.
Hampshire, however, did point out that the benefit of those considerations was that the work had been done to create a Hybrid Model should the position need to be revisited in the future.
He also stressed that the club still remains open to considerations of returning back wholly into private ownership, but that it was important that any offer be to the benefit of the club as well as any individual or consortium.
The other main elements from the presentation were:
* Damian Irvine and Jason Peterkin remain committed to involvement at the club
* The forecast debt to the end of the 2020 season of £30,000 has already been reduced by £27,400.
* Hunslet Independent Supporters’ Trust (HIST) Membership has increased from 50 to 121
* Annual HIST Membership income has increased from £12,000 to £25,000
* Investors were prepared to underwrite any shortfall
* Investors would work with the club to assess how and when funds would be provided
* A meeting has been scheduled with current main sponsors Clipper with a view to continuing our relationship
* An interim board structure has been developed and will be implemented immediately. Formal elections will follow in March or April.
* Hampshire stepped down as chairman with effect from 31 January. The board intend that the position be more of a figurehead, than a formal working, role and Hall of Famer Kenny Sykes, who is also President of the Hunslet RL Ex-Parkside Former Players’ Association, has accepted an invitation to replace him. Hampshire will remain on the board in a non–executive capacity as a consultant/strategist, largely looking at the longer term issues and ensuring that the club is ready to meet the challenges ahead.
* Damian Irvine will take on a three-month consultancy to look at the General Manager role and assess how that needs to be developed to get best value for money for the club. The post will be advertised in due course.
*All in all the club – particularly the supporters – have done an excellent job in turning round the financial position and the future looks much more positive. However it is important for all to remember that whilst this is a great start it is only the beginning of the journey and everyone needs to continue supporting the club in any way they can, to make sure we continue to move forward effectively.
Hunslet have introduced a number of attractive packages to suit all requirements and budgets, ranging from the recently-launched `Spirit of 73’ Geoff Gunney Membership (in homage to the all-time great who helped launch New Hunslet following the sale of Parkside in 1973), which costs from £5 per month, to the £50 per month Frank Watson VIP membership, which secures a season ticket, match-day hospitality and a seat at the directors’ table at an away match.
The Graham King Gold Membership, at £26 per month, secures a season ticket and other benefits, while the Mick Coyle Silver Membership (£21 per month) offers a £50 discount off a season ticket, plus benefits.
Hunslet have also pegged season tickets at 2019 prices at £120 (£70 concessions, under 16s free).
All packages can be purchased online by visiting www.hunsletrlfc.com, by ringing 0113 271 2730, or by calling at the club’s offices at the South Leeds Stadium.