Report from Millers Trust AGM 19th March 2009
Posted by Steve Exley on March 20 2009 18:20:27
Enclosed Report of a further meeting with Tony Stewart plus the AGM that took place on 19th March 2009

Extended News
Report on Millers Trust AGM:  19 March 2009 

Report on Millers Trust Meeting with Tony Stewart


In anticipation of the AGM a meeting was held on 19 March 2009 between Tony Stewart and 3 members of the Trust Board namely Mark Thomas, John Harrison and Peter Jalowiczor.  In advance of this meeting Steve Exley contacted numerous Trust Board Members by email and asked them to reply setting out any questions they wished us to put to Tony Stewart on their behalf.  A list of questions was then drawn from the emails concerned.  In almost every case the questions were put to Tony Stewart in the precise words chosen by the fans concerned.  Understandably, the questions on finance and the new stadium featured repeatedly in the emails we received and several of the questions put to Tony Stewart effectively amount to the same question in a different guise or from a slightly different angle. 

The question and answer session with Tony Stewart took up the whole of our meeting with him on 19 March 2009 and is repeated below. 

Fans Questions to Tony Stewart for Meeting with Millers Trust
on 19 March 2009  

1.         Are you thinking of having any 'offers' for the fans next season?  For instance, a 'package of tickets' (buy 3 home league games and get a fourth free).

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
  I don’t see prices dropping.  I don’t see prices going up.  We will consider packages.  I will disclose by the next meeting with Millers Trust what we have in mind in terms of packages. 


2.         Are there any thoughts of having a bigger/better shop at Don Valley on matchdays?

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
  The shop was primarily used for the Eagles.  We are talking to the Don Valley Stadium Manager with a view to improving that facility. 

3.         Are there any thoughts of selling away tickets on matchdays at
Don Valley?

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
  We are looking at the mechanics of selling away tickets on match days at
Don Valley.  The current software is not transferable.  


4.         Getting towards the end of the season and there's still quite a few players not had their shirts sponsored - I know, the season before we sponsored two players but with the hike in price we could only afford one this season, will you consider putting the price down?

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
  I am looking at this – at the next meeting with Millers Trust I will give a decision on it.


5.         I’m concerned about where the funding will come from for the new stadium – especially in the current climate.  Can TS indicate how secure this money is and, if he’s pressed, let us know who the sources might be beyond himself?  Wouldn’t expect him to name individuals but at least state the type of people who are funding and whether their investment is conditional on an expected return on investment (or are they more in the mould of benefactors willing to lose money in return for an involvement with the club?)

Tony Stewart’s Answer:  I am happy and confident that the funding for the new stadium will come from some or all of the following sources:-            
a)         Grants
b)         Myself
Rotherham Council
d)         Various other third parties such as retail developers

It is very unlikely that bank funding will be required.


6.         I think it would be good if he could reiterate his position on Millmoor.  He’s been pretty clear but the rumours continue.  Is he keeping a back door open for the possibility of a change of direction or is this simply not an option?  (I am one of those in favour of a redeveloped Millmoor but will put it out of my mind if Tony is adamant!)

Tony Stewart’s Answer:  I am adamant that I don’t want to go back to Millmoor.  I want to move forward.  We will not consider going back to Millmoor unless there is some unforeseen major obstacle or disaster preventing the development of a new stadium within the timeframe required.  Consideration would only be given to Millmoor as a very last resort.


7.         What would it take to get a seat on the Board for a Trust member?  (or the combined Trust / RUSC assuming we come together?)  It would be helpful if he could be brutally honest on this.  If he doesn’t want it to happen, then he should say so.

Tony Stewart’s Answer:  I am still building a team of people around Rotherham United.  It is still an ongoing task.  There is a lot to do on the commercial side and I acknowledge that public relations needs to be improved.  It is too early to be looking outside the infrastructure when the infrastructure itself needs further work.  I am not saying no to a seat on the Board for a Trust Member but it is too early to be looking beyond the work required on the infrastructure.  


8.         What role can the Trust / RUSC have in relation to the club and to Tony Stewart as the owner?

Tony Stewart’s Answer:  The Trust / RUSC can act as a conduit for information.  I will open up various new ideas to your members for discussion.  I will engage with them on issues such as seating for the new stadium, boxes, facilities for fans.  To design a new stadium without fan input would be foolish and I intend to open things up for discussion by the fans.    

9.         Fans are cynical and worried because of past regimes: can we have regular bulletins from the club on the new stadium. For example, on the official Millers website.

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
  It is down to the new team working for the Club to expand upon the information presently provided.  We are working to bring about a good information system with an updated website at regular intervals.  I accept that the website is not what it should be. 

10.       Can a share scheme (real shares not 'buy a brick') be considered to help with the funding on the new stadium?

Tony Stewart’s Answer:  Not at this stage.


11.              Are other options being considered such as a Casino on the site

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
  Specification for the new ground and everything involved is currently under consideration. 

12.       It has been
rumoured ever since the club exited Administration that, in addition to Tony Stewart, there are additional persons contributing towards the finances.  Specifically, the names Ronald Hull Junior and Brian Beckett are mooted.  Can Tony state whether there is any truth to the rumours?  

Tony Stewart’s Answer:  All other financial support to the Club bar me is in the form of sponsorship. 


13.              If there are other financial backers, and they wish to remain anonymous, can we be told why they wish to remain anonymous.

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
    All other financial support to the Club bar me is in the form of sponsorship.

14.       Obvious one, but let's face it this is THE only real question on everyone's mind, when will we hear something concrete regarding the new ground? 

Tony Stewart’s Answer:         I am pursuing various avenues and options for a new ground.  The Meadowbank Road and B & Q sites are just two of the options being considered.  I am looking at other sites on behalf of the Club quite apart from any sites identified by the Council.   I have engaged my own planning Consultant and Engineer to assist me with my own enquiries.


15.       Is Tony in a position to expand further on his plans for financing the new ground, and will the 'credit crunch' impact upon those plans?


Tony Stewart’s Answer:  I am happy and confident that the funding for the new stadium will come from some or all of the following sources:- 
a)         Grants           
b)         Myself
Rotherham Council
d)         Various other third parties such as retail developers

It is very unlikely that bank funding will be required.    

16.       Are plans in place for when Tony eventually decides to retire?

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
        If and when I retire (at the age of 99) my son Richard Stewart will take over  the club by natural progression. 

I would like the Trust (as my representative and on my behalf) to express to Tony Stewart my sincere gratitude towards him, and his team, for everything they are doing at Rotherham United Football Club.  The club means so much to the pride and identity of Rotherham as a whole.  Indeed without it, the town would be little more than a Sheffield suburb.  I remember how bad I felt when it looked like the Millers were going to the wall, and yet now I probably feel more confident about its future than at any other time in my career as a Miller.  So thank you, and keep up the good work Tone!    

Tony Stewart’s response: Thank you   

P.S.  As we know football is all about pride, especially local pride.  With this in mind please ensure that the new stadium is something to be proud of.  If it were up to me (and I know finance will be the ultimate dictate) I would ensure that our capacity is at least one more than the Keepmoat.  I.e. if the Keepmoat is 15000, let ours be 15001.  Let us ensure that the stadium caters for our potential NOT for where we currently are in terms of attendance.  The design, and size, of the new ground will say a lot about the club's future ambitions.  Let's make sure we send out the right message.

Tony Stewart’s response:  I agree to 15001.  This fan can have the extra one.  Tell him it will be an expensive seat that one.

17.       I’ll keep mine short and sweet, Are Rotherham United going to consider wooing the stay-away fans by lowering the prices next year?  Here is my view of what should be charged:-

Adults:  £12 - £15
All children:  at least £1.           
Children under 8:  £1
Children 8 – 16:  £5 - £8 
Senior Citizens and Concessions:  £8 - £10.
Unemployed:  £6 or less.

NB:  when I was 17 I was on the dole, it was the lowest part of my life, and RUFC only charged £1 per game on production of my UB40.  Imagine the excellent publicity that RUFC would get with such a fine gesture in these bleak times. It certainly helped me.  A friend of mine who is RUFC mad who had just lost his job, when I asked him if he was going to the Scunthorpe match he said hecouldn’t afford it and that was £10.

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
        There will no price hike but at the same time I don’t see prices dropping. We will consider packages and will provide news of this at our next meeting with the Trust on 30th April 2009.

18.              Could local business be invited to part sponsor tickets for unemployed people? 

Tony Stewart’s Answer:        There’s passion and a lot of good people in Rotherham so maybe we can get local business to part sponsor some tickets.

19.       Where is the money coming from to fund the new stadium? Is it nailed down?           

Tony Stewart’s Answer:
  I am happy and confident that the funding for the new stadium will come from some or all of the following sources:-
a)         Grants
b)         Myself
Rotherham Council
d)         Various other third parties such as retail developers

It is very unlikely that bank funding will be required.       

20.       Are we in a position to receive grants towards the cost of a new stadium, as we previously did not complete the main stand at Millmoor?

Tony Stewart’s Answer: We are in a position to receive grants. 

Firstly thanks for all the good work you and the trust guys do on our behalf.  Obviously thank Mr Stewart for the work done so far on and off the field.

21.       Have contract talks started with players whose contracts expire in the summer?

Tony Stewart’s
Answer: Yes.

22.       Me and my friends have used the 500 club facility since day one when there were the grand total of 7 of us in there.  It has got more popular since but what plans are there to attract a few hundred in there?  

Tony Stewart’s
Answer: Paul Douglas is handling this with me. We think that we can do more, this issue will get further consideration.

23.       Is Tony Stewart in favour of the idea of Safe Standing Areas at football grounds, to give a choice to fans, or does he at least have an open mind about it?

24.       If Tony is against the idea, would he at least be willing to discuss it with fans? 

25.       If Tony is in favour of it or willing to consider it, could a Safe Standing area be considered for the new stadium? NB:  Is Tony aware that Morecombe club have just decided to incorporate Safe Standing areas in their new stadium? 

26.       Would Tony be willing to find out from the Authorities whether the All-Seater regulation, imposed on the Millmoor ground at the end of our third season in the Championship, still applies four seasons after we were relegated and several seasons more before we could ever get back there and whether it applies at a new stadium and to a new ownership of the club?

Tony Stewart’s Answer: We cannot go back to open standing. Because of our period as a club in the championship (four years) we cannot revert back to standing.                     

27.       It is clear that the club is financially dependent on the chairman and his hidden associates. In the present economic climate these business men may come under financial pressure, and it is a real concern that their support for the club will be withdrawn or reduced.
What assurances can Tony provide over the financial future of the club?

Tony Stewart’s Answer
: What assurances can I give? My word and my past record of running successful companies for thirty five years and we have had a few recessions in that time.

Proposed Merger of Millers Trust and Rotherham United Supporters Club


The meeting voted in favour of the proposed merger.  A follow up meeting with RUSC will now be arranged. 


The Millers Trust Support Fund and Shirts Fund


The meeting voted in favour of retaining the whole of these funds in the combined total sum of £16,059.00 as a combined savings fund.


Election of Trust Board Members


It was confirmed that any Member wishing to stand for election to the Trust Board will need to be proposed by an existing Member and seconded by two other existing Members.  Nominations will be accepted by letter signed by the applicant, proposer and both seconders and should be sent to:-


Millers Trust

Rotherham United Football Club (RUFC) Limited

c/o Commercial Department

Mangham House

Mangham Road

Barbot Hall Industrial Estate


S61 4RJ


The closing date for nominations will be Thursday 9 April 2009. 


Financial Report

 A financial report was presented, copies were passed around the tables and remained available for inspection throughout the night.