WELCOME to the first Trust column of the post-Stead era.
It is testament to the good work of the Academy that a £1m-plus fee - almost unheard of for a Third Division club in the current climate - was paid for the services of one of the lower divisions' hottest properties.
Most would have preferred to have seen Stead retained until, at least, the end of the season. But once a Premiership club were in the frame, there was nothing on earth that would have stopped Jon and his agent from sealing his "dream move."
We at the Trust wish Jonathon the very best in the next stage of his career and thank him for his contribution to our current League standing.
As you will probably be aware, the Trust held its Members Meeting a week ago, largely to canvass opinion as to the future of the Trust's cash reserve.
Bad weather almost caused the meeting to be cancelled, but about 50 hardy souls made the effort to attend and put forward their views.
The meeting began with a presentation, to special guest Gerry Murphy, of the latest Trust fund-raising effort to be donated to the Academy.
A cheque for £1,500 was added to the £7,000 recently donated to assist the Academy to aid the fantastic work they do.
Murphy made a long and passionate speech, in which he thanked the Trust for their help in securing the jobs of Academy and office staff through the critical injection of funds - totalling £60,000 - during administration.
Without money raised by the Trust, crucial staff would have been laid off. This would have severely hampered the club's smooth transition from the administration process.
The introduction, by Bob Pepper, gave some background to the work of 100-plus supporters trusts, of which the Survival Trust is one.
Greater participation by supporters in the running of their club and increased involvement in the wider community were cited as standard aims of every trust.
Participation in the Development Association and links with HTFC Football in the Community are two tangible ways that the Trust is fulfilling these aims on behalf of its members.
Members were given four basic options for the use of the £50,000 reserve:
* The first option was to hand the money over to the club. After substantial grants, money from the Patrons, Yorkshire Building Society and other supporters groups donations, this year's £460,000 Academy budget has a projected shortfall of £45,500, which the club is committed to underwrite.
This would effectively be £50,000 less than Ken Davy would need to put into the club.
With the Trust's money, the aim of the Academy to be self financing would be achieved for one year. It was pointed out that if the Blue & White Foundation were to reach its target of 2000 members, this would be achieved anyway.
It was noted that the Foundation costs were now being covered and that any new member was pure profit. It was resolved that the Trust would actively encourage membership of the Foundation.
* The second proposal was to use the funds for a major project that would attract matched funding - potentially turning the £50,000 into £500,000 with which to help the club.
* Option three would see the set up of a separate shares trust using the Supporters Direct model. With this scheme, members lend money to the shares trust (not to be confused with the Trust itself), either in a lump sum or by regular payments, in exchange for a loan note. The Co-operative Bank offers a `soft loan' to allow members to contribute. The shares trust owns the shares rather than the individual, but members are allowed to withdraw their funds by special agreement. It was felt that the Trust's £50,000 would `prime the pump.'
It was this kind of scheme that allowed the York City Supporters Trust to raise sufficient funds to take control of their own club.
Manchester United have a massive shares trust that owns a significant percentage of the club.
* The fourth option was simply to retain the money for a `rainy day.' The feeling from the floor was that in view of the two previous failed administrations at Town and because of the current climate in non-Premiership football there was an unease surrounding the long-term future of the club. This is despite the gratitude that existed for Ken Davy's part in the club's survival.
The Trust's call for accountability was restated. It was pointed out that there was no suggestion of impropriety on the club's behalf, but simply that without transparency surrounding the general financial well-being of the club and the success of the business plan, it was impossible to make decisions and advise members regarding the stability and longevity of the club.
During the open question and answer session, there were several recurring points: there was a general feeling that handing over the money would reduce the Trust's influence and effectively result in its winding up, it was felt that the funds should not only be retained but increased, a 10% transfer fee on a sale - such as Stead's - should return to the Academy to help it to become self financing, there was much support for matched funding but more information was required on the shares trust.
A vote was taken and the choice of retaining the funds to assist the club in a more constructive way was carried with one or two abstentions.
This vote was indicative of the feeling of the membership and it was resolved to ballot the full membership for a definitive mandate.