Friday’s Q&A with Board members and Head Coach Alan Kilshaw started with an update from Strategy and Planning Director Neil Hampshire on the IMG consultation and potential investment in South Leeds Stadium.
Neil informed supporters that despite reports in the press of a 2 x 10 structure IMG had made it clear at a recent meeting that nothing had been decided as yet and as and when it is, they are likely to phase in over a few years in order to allow clubs time to better prepare. IMG are due to present their proposals to all Clubs at the end of September after which there will be time for further feedback before any final decision.
Neil also provided a further update on the potential investment in the stadium and wider community. He gave background to the proposal and outlined the benefits that it would bring to the Club and local community.
He also said “It’s fair to say that the council are not as yet fully engaged with the proposal as we would have hoped, but dialogue remains ongoing, albeit that the ball is now in the Council’s court as to how to proceed.
“The Club and the investors have answered all questions put to them and are clearly ready to move to the next level of discussion if the will of the Council is to enter into meaningful negotiation.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Hunslet, the wider south Leeds community and the Council, and should be grasped with both hands. To that end we have written to the Council to ask what their plans are to both develop the stadium and provide £2.7m in social investment for the local community should the proposal be turned down”
There was strong support in the room and Neil urged people to write to the leaders of the Council, Tom Riordan and James Lewis, to express support. It would also be great if they could get friends and family to do the same too. Supporters can find draft letters below:
In the general Q&A that followed,
The question was asked what the Club’s current financial position was. Finance Director Phil Hodgson answered “Despite reports to the contrary on social media after the Midlands games we are in relatively good health due to reserves built up over the last 2 years”.
A healthy exchange then took place as to whether this should see additional funds released to the playing budget in an effort to attract more success and so fans. Phil responded by saying sustainability was still the number one priority. “We are in a position where we can at least decide whether to stick or twist, however, with so many uncertainties around the game at the moment it is important we don’t do anything to put the Club at risk”.
Alan Kilshaw then gave his insight into the matter “Obviously I would like additional playing budget but am fully appreciative of the financial constraints the Club has to work to. I’m confident we can be competitive next season with the budget I have received. We are keen to retain a number of this season’s squad and feel that with good recruitment from the local community clubs can improve again next year – but yes, any additional funding would be welcomed”.
Alan answered questions as to the reason he has used so many loan players this season and the impact this has on results and team spirit. “The intention was always to give the young lads opportunities this year. It’s fair to say some are still finding their feet at this level whilst others have flourished. We have been hit badly by injuries to senior players like Straff, Jimmy, Mossop and Retts meaning some of the younger lads like Hallas, Paga, Syme and Render have had to take on more responsibility. I’m really pleased how they have responded but it was important we got additional bodies, and experience, in. When we have used the loan market it has always been with a view to extensive periods. However, in certain circumstances (E.g. Ollie Burton) injuries at their home club means they have been recalled sooner than was anticipated”.
Chairman Kenny Sykes closed the meeting by thanking supporters for their continued support and passion shown for the Club. “Stick with us, together we can take the Club forward”.