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Dale Trust Meeting With WSH LLC
Thursday, 14th Mar 2024 09:58 by Chaff

The Trust Chairman George Brigham met with potential investors World Soccer Holdings LLC during their visit from the United States.

Club Chairman, Simon Gauge, arranged for the Trust Chair and Secretary to both meet with World Soccer Holdings LLC Chief Executive – Scott Dyer – our latest half time draw winner (seriously) and potential investor currently enjoying a period of exclusivity, at the club this afternoon.

To say that Scott is not without extensive knowledge, contacts, experience drive and enthusiasm would be a disservice. We had compiled questions submitted and intended to have a structured Q&A session, but the session developed into a bustling exchange of meaningful discussion, so below we have tried to add some structure in reporting pertinent points in order to enable an understanding of what we gleaned today.

1. Why Rochdale – the club, town, rugby league
Scott answered that if we were in a more affluent part of the country, he probably would not be interested. The value proposition their organisation promotes is about elevating individuals and organisations in communities. He and his football coaching partner are both Christians and believe in a charitable approach to developing opportunity.

We also own our own stadium, which is somewhat of a novelty in MSL/USL. There is a growing popularity of men’s football within the US, especially with the World Cup coming up, and the strongest leagues are seen in Europe, particularly in England, and so they are looking to embrace investors and manage their interests.

2. Football set ups in USA.
WSH are not involved directly in any. But Scott is well connected with a number of organisations that are involved in a number of sporting industry activities, including a USL franchise, stadium development and other amateur sporting events.

This is a management company of investment funds placed by individuals. WSH has 2 partners and sub-contracts most activity out to consultants.

Management at Rochdale as a business is yet to be determined, but the need for continuity is paramount in terms of personnel. It is recognised that additional personnel are required in order to relieve current workloads and attempt to grow revenue.

Scott is seen as the relationship builder on behalf of investors and looks to attract passive investors in schemes he is involved in, although some he is talking to may wish to be more hands on, as their investment may be more significant.

If a sale were to go through, then the ownership company would be revealed. It will not be WSH LLC.

The type of investor being spoken to on various opportunities included a group consisting of F1 drivers. In seeking to understand the type of investor that would be happy to invest in a perennial loss maker in a poor area with heavy and glamorous competition locally, Scott described them as being patient and understanding that a minimum term of 5 years + were to be expected before any return may happen. Additionally, he advised that they may be asked for further investment in order togenerate a return.

4. Enhancing commercial activity
Scott pointed out the success he has had at Maastricht and was preparing an holistic commercial plan as they did at Maastricht. This included developing real estate around the ground, which is not owned by the club itself.

Scott reiterated the desire to develop the academy and develop pathways into English professional football for youth deemed good enough for standards in the UK game.

5. The actual acquisition of RAFC
It is challenging. There is interest from several investors and due diligence is being carried out based on RAFC supplying information specified within a WSH template document. One issue re: Denehurst Part had been flagged up and the reply from the club deemed satisfactory.

There is a tight timescale to get everything in place in order to make an offer. Scott is driving this process positively. The Trust emphasised questions here were designed to ensure that all relevant areas were covered and could be dealt with in a timely manner – financial & commercial due diligence, property and pitch surveys, H&S audits, actuarial valuations, establish warranties & indemnities. We did not want any unnecessary delays in the decision-making process from our side.

Scott acknowledged that the initial purchase funds going into the club are simply not enough to fund the club beyond a short period and that he was working on this.

6. WSH holdings success
They brokered a 24% holding in Maastricht and plan to get up to 90% +, currently being held up by the Dutch FA. This investment cost €735,000 and was funded by family and friends of Scott. It was about 6 people.

They are looking at further investment in a club in Belgium and one in Slovenia. They are focussed on creating pathways for under privileged but talented youth to get into European professional leagues.

7. Fan engagement & the fan led review
Maastricht has 3 distinct fan groups, with whom the owners engage regularly.

All Dutch clubs grant a “Golden share” in professional football clubs to a recognised supporter group.

Within the UK, Scott said the recommendations published in the Tracey Crouch fan led review would have to be read and understood, but in principle, understanding the practicalities surrounding the stadium notwithstanding, he would have no problem with the Golden share principle. There did appear to be a misunderstanding of what “stadium” meant. Discussion about it meaning location and possibly naming appeared to clarify the issue. The other elements of Golden share were not an issue, but it is understood that interpretation from club to club will vary.

The suggestion of a shadow board was discussed, and the creation would not be an issue, as long as the decision-making process weas accepted as being the right of management, having engaged with fans on key issues.

It was a very pleasant and upbeat meeting that covered a lot of detail, hoping the nub of which has been captured here.

Scott left to pick up his winnings from the club shop and spend a fist full of his new dollars on some merchandise.

Photo: Action Images

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billyroberts added 14:22 - Apr 20
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