Our 9 Hour Twitter Conversation With OWNA FC

On Friday, OWNA FC got in touch with us, via DM on Twitter, after publicly criticising the concept. You can see the full conversation below, which took place over the course of 9 hours on Friday afternoon.

You will see below that our opinion on the concept of OWNA FC isn’t great, for a number of reasons that we go into. You can also read some excellent pieces on the issue from MUNDIAL, Kevin Rye and @Uglygame

Some personal details, not related to OWNA FC, have been redacted.

Stuart –OWNA: You happy to have a chat to discuss our concept. I have seen you agree to this “ending in tears” and would like to ask why you think this being football people.

Jay –AL3: Absolutely happy to have a chat about it

Jay –AL3: On public channels.

Jay –AL3: To answer your question (and I reserve the right to publicise any reply, be aware), my own personal concerns are lengthy and considerable

Jay –AL3: 1) ownership. Website says ownership of club (Hednesford?..) would be under OWNAFC LTD of which you are the sole director, with chance to purchase 1 share, seemingly not included in Subscription.

Jay –AL3: So your subscribers, or OWNAS, are purchasing a football club for you. There is no accountability at OWNAFC LTD

Jay –AL3: 2) The decision making process. I’ve worked at a football club, what you propose is insane. Hiring/firing, who would work under that? No-one who wasn’t desperate. Direct communication via app? Incredible. Training plans? Really?

Jay –AL3: Lineups, transfers, tactics? No manager in their right mind would agree to that invasive oversight

Stuart –OWNA: Happy to chat on public channels yes.

Jay –AL3: Awesome, cheers.

Jay –AL3: And the model IS just MyFC with a flashier website. It just doesn’t work. Community ownership flourishes by giving recognised experts a set role and having accountability into that role, not doing it for them

Jay –AL3: I hope, should you takeover a club, that I’m wrong. I hate seeing any club go under but I truly feel, the person with the most to gain from this, is yourself.

Stuart –OWNA:1, There are 3 clubs we are in discussions with at this stage and are meeting with another club today. We are looking at all available options. Since the BBC report, we have had many clubs contact us to open up discussions.

The company has 10,000 shares available of which will be allocated to OWNAS. We will do the share holding by way of shareholders agreement and shareholders certificate when the the takeover is completed. I am sure you agree that doing this each day would be a huge admin task and a waste of resources so we will issue certificates via our chartered accountants all on the same day.

I will dilute shareholding to OWNAS as and when they come onboard and will be equal shareholder in the football club. Theshareholders will own the football club in its entirety.

2, People get hired and fired every day in business. There is a process in place that allows this to be managed in a reasonable and responsible manner. This replaces chairman who make irrational decisions and this allows a full process for the fans to raise concerns and then action is able to be taken with asking being the complete last resort. With hiring, the operational team being hired by individuals who may be friends and family are hired for the wrong reasons. With a process where by the shortlist is presented to a number of people then this allows a fair and accurate recruitment process to be done in the best interests of the football club.

Complete direct communication, why should fans not be lined in to the club to allow communications. Everyone from the CEO to the manager should be answerable and accountable to the community and the club in which they employed

OWNAS do not have any say over what happens on the training ground, this is the mangers job. However they have a right to discuss and understand the DNA of the football club from top to bottom.

You say this model does not work but then say community ownership flourishes. This model is COMPLETE community ownership. This is for the fans and there are experts from in every operational position within the football club. We will be putting in leading people in all positions -Marketing manager, sports reporter, brand director, production manager, video producer, Sports physiologist, financial advisor, commercial director and events manager to name a few. We will do this by working with professionals from within the game who are looking for an opportunity. This is a deal already agreed.

Stuart –OWNA: We are also only focused on clubs with a youth structure and a clear player pathway from 6 years old to first team. Creation of a player pathway and development program is an essential part of ensuring we focus on creation of a club DNA and this is a long term plan to create a sustainable club for the community.every football player under 16 will be given free access if OWNS vote for this and we are focused on building a true community club by adding in technology to ensure they can run this as a community club but not a model that is broken, a model that the Germans would even be proud of.

Stuart –OWNA: All decisions and agreements will be subject to OWNA approval. I also would like you to keep this part private, [REDACTED]

Jay –AL3: Keeping anything private in this chat was not the agreement..

Jay –AL3: And said quite clearly at the start I reserve the right to publish any reply, which you chose to proceed with

Jay –AL3: I appreciate you’ve reached out and that’s not always easy to do when someone doesn’t share your point of view. If you can clarify exactly what you want to omit and remain private, I will do so.

Jay –AL3: But I do have some issues with the points you have raised

Stuart –OWNA: I think if you decide to publish that I [REDACTED] will say a lot about you rather than me when I have asked this to be between us.

Stuart –OWNA: I have no objections to anything else being published.

Jay –AL3: [REDACTED] though I do stress again, I was very clear I reserve the right to publish anything that is said.

Jay –AL3: Can we carry on? Again I’m grateful for your time

Jay –AL3: Above you say “OWNAS” do not have any say on what happens on the training ground’ but your website offers people the chance to “Plan Training Sessions”

Jay –AL3: Is your website misleading?

Stuart –OWNA: Plan the training sessions -This is a job for the manager to carry out training but OWNAS reserve the right to advise on dates and times to ensure they can visit the club just like any owner would do. They can plan sessions at the beach, plan sessions in warm weather camp. Maybe the terminology is poor with planning so I accept this can be seen as a negative.

Stuart –OWNA: Nothing is misleading, it is very clear open and precise about everything. This is what we are doing, opening the football club up, transparency, building a community.Stuart –OWNA:I may be slow at responding as I am also doing an interview. If you ask anything then please bear with me

Jay –AL3: No problem, I’m also at work so slow replies possible. Thanks.

Jay –AL3: “The company has 10,000 shares available of which will be allocated to OWNAS”. If you sell all of those at £49 each, that raises £490,000. Can you explain how you arrived at the headline budget of £8.5m that appears on the strapline of your website? NOTE: The 8.5m figure was removed from @OWNAFC’s twitter bio since this discussion occured.

Stuart –OWNA:So managing a budget of “up to £8.5m” was done with a league club in mind before we changed tactics due to huge debts within these clubs. Clubs existing revenue 10,000 OWNAS minimum on the platform -This is an initial figure and is not set at 10k, We expect this figure to far exceed this Sponsorship on the app Additional gate revenues Additional merchandise sales Community club linking with the main club The expected budget per year with clubs we are talking to will be approx £2.5m

Jay –AL3: So the £8.5m figure on the site is indeed currently incorrect?

Stuart –OWNA:No i is very much correct as stated above.

Jay –AL3: Ok thankyou

Jay –AL3: Do you personally have any experience successfully delivering community projects on this scale?

Stuart –OWNA: i have success of delivering projects of this scale but the community clubs will also provide expertise of bringing projects like this to fruition and will lead in this specific area. This along with the expertise from the premier league level operational staff will also ensure this is a huge success.

Jay –AL3: Do you feel bringing in staff with that level of experience at tier 6/7/8 is realistic, particularly given the unique circumstances they would find themselves under? I have had a role at a football club and I can’t imagine myself putting myself through that kind of scrutiny. I agree with your point that every staff member at any club must be accountable to the supporters, do you really feel allowing permanent direct contact is the best way to achieve that, or the most productive use of the staff member’s time?

Stuart–OWNA: It is a deal agreed in principle for the staff to come in who are in education in football and looking for roles that we can offer. We are excited about working with an operational team that is fit for the premier league and allowing them to come into a club with the facilities we will offer and transform the club off the field. If the off field side is professional and working well then this will filter down to the playing side who will also proposer from market leading analytical software. We are opening the club up to allow access and contact and yes the best use of their time is certainly building a football club for the future way working with the fans, the community and the OWNAS.

Jay –AL3: In your opinion, why did MyFC ultimately fail, what did you learn from that? Can you see why your similarity to their model would cause people concern?

Lauren –OWNA: Hi, Stuart will be back online shortly and will reply ASAP. Thanks for your patience.Lauren

Jay –AL3: Thanks Lauren, there’s honestly no rush. Appreciate your time and Stuart’s time.

Stuart –OWNA: MYFC was an idea not a concept, the members were just that, members. They were not shareholders within the club. They had no method of communications with the club or other members. The club was awash with debt and they went to fans and members for more and more money instead of investing in infrastructure and aligning the club with the community. The model is similar in that it is a fans owned model but fans owned and community models are used everywhere but not in the right manner so do not work.

So why are we different? we have live time technology for full and real interaction with fans and shareholders. We want to utilise a community club and bring them under the same banner and bring the expertise from this community club in to the club and create clear player pathways for all age groups, levels an abilities. Enhancing the playing experience at all youth levels and utilising analytical performance software as these kids are the future. This is done for long term sustainability and not just short term thinking. Our contacts will allow us to bring in a fulloperational team f premier league standards to run various parts of the football club at no cost to the club. They will implement processes and procedures and have accountability in all areas. This is just utilising resources already available and willingto go.

The model is a very simple model, engage fans, families and the wider community and give them a football club to be proud of, create a pathway for kids to adults and your community base is already in place give kids free tickets and something to doalongside the football and they will come with parents. Show the figures to the fans and shareholders and advise that if they come to x games and 1 or 2 people then what will be achieved. We are allowing people to become financially and emotionally involved in a football club and to create a culture of rational decisions by like-minded football fans. We also believe the community is far and wide and it is small minded to concentrate on a small fan base and expect it to grow without thinking big and thinking different.

Jay –AL3: I think it’s interesting that you say fan owned and community models aren’t implemented correctly and don’t work. 8 of the last 10 Champions League winners are community owned.

Portsmouth are a fantastic example. Their correctly implemented community ownership model allowed them to rescue their club, clear it of substantial debt, rebuild it’s relationship with the local community, progress through the leagues to a point where it became a saleable interest to a wealthy individual, a decision which ultimately fell to its community owners, the supporters, through a clear, structured, democratic process.

I think dismissing that model, for something that benefits yourself as the company director would be particularly concerning if it were a club I supported that OWNA were taking over.

Stuart – OWNA: So you believe that fan owned models where the club had a large fan base is successful?? Very interesting when this model replicated that. You also fail to mention the numerous clubs with a small fan base where the model failed which I refer. We seem to be finding common ground. Very interesting.

Stuart – OWNA: So to confirm, 8 of the last 10 champions league winners used a fan ownership model, Portsmouth survived with a fan owned model yet you are against our fan owned model.

The Supporters Direct failed model is what it says. Failed.

However to dismiss our fan owned model after describing it as super successful is a very interesting response.

To compare the superb German model to Chester or Darlington models wouldn’t be a great argument.

Can you please list the negatives of our model for a non league club?

Jay – AL3: “However to dismiss our fan owned model after describing it as super successful is a very interesting response. ” – Well no, that is absolutely not what I said, at all, so allow me to clarify.

Stuart – OWNA: Please do

Jay – AL3: You are absolutely NOT following that model at all. Community Ownership in it’s traditional sense is usually held by a community benefit society, where the owners do not and can not profit. You are the sole director of a company limited by shares.

Jay – AL3: It leads me to a question I’ve had, but I’ll happily list the negatives like you ask

Stuart – OWNA: So when 9,999 shares are sold to individuals of which is under way, would you then agree then the community model we have that is a business not paying dividends. The director can be voted in or out of the company.

Stuart – OWNA: List them one at a time and let us discuss each one.

Jay – AL3: Ah, so that was my question

Jay – AL3: So out of the 10,000 shares you have in OWNA LTD, you will sell upto 9,999 of them, and will put yourself in a position where your directorship can be terminated by vote?

Stuart – OWNA: Sorry I have missed the question.

Jay – AL3: That was it ^ There are all these plans where staff can be terminated. Would you apply the same standards to yourself if the community decides you are not the person to take OWNA LTD forward?

Stuart – OWNA: Yes 100% that will be done. This is a concept I have founded. If I get voted out then this is fine.

Jay – AL3: Ok, thank you for your answer

Jay – AL3: You ask if I can list the negatives to go through, which I’d be happy to

Stuart – OWNA: Do you have the negatives for me?

Jay – AL3: If I were a fan of the club, whichever club it ends up as, the main one for me would be finance. If your subscriber count dwindles, where does the money come from? Will you as the current main shareholder, PSC and Director put up any shortfall?

Jay – AL3: That would be negative/concern number 1

Stuart – OWNA: The club(s) currently have no investment into them other than to plug the shortfall. There are many revenue streams at the club being ignored. This investment allows the club to invest in ensuring them revenue streams are long term cash generators for the club. I am not the main shareholder. You seem to miss the point. I am the only shareholder only until the shares are taken. There will be no need for further investment after the cost centres are operational.

Stuart – OWNA: That was a concern rather than a negative to be fair. However, happy to answer.

Jay – AL3: Negative 1; Your business set up. OWNA LTD is a private company limited by shares and as you’ve mentioned you are sole director and sole shareholder. That grants you essentially unlimited power and your subscribers only have your word that you will act in good faith. Under the model articles you’ve adopted I could not sell my share to another without your say so. And if this is truly just a democratic exercise, that makes no sense. Just set up a CBS that guarantees democratic operation. Given you have you have a history of wanting to be involved in sport ownership (Whitehaven / “Greater Manchester Football Team”), this sets off alarm bells.

Stuart – OWNA: Concern 1 – the shares are available and are being sold. This eliminates this point. Anyone can sell shares at any time so again this is incorrect.

A live time vote is fully democratic. This eliminates this concern.

The reason I walked away from Whitehaven was that the club hid debt and wouldn’t allow all shares to becine available to the fans so it didn’t fit our values. The veteran Manchester football club decided they didn’t want a fan ownership model. The fact I am looking to get a fans owned model into sport shouldn’t concern anyone. It’s a huge positive. This again eliminates that concern.

Stuart – OWNA: To also eliminate further, the shareholders agreement is a legal binding document covering these concerns.

Can I raise a positive and you respond?

Jay – AL3: Of course

Stuart – OWNA: Investing an initial £500k into a club and allowing the fans and the community to own the club and sit as a leadership/advisory group. I see this as a positive.

Jay – AL3: Are you investing £500k into a club or are you buying a club for £500k? There is a huge difference.

Stuart – OWNA: The initial investment is £500k. The club has no value. The asset to the club has value and is a separate purchase.

Stuart – OWNA: Is this a negative?

Stuart – OWNA: Placing a team of 15 in areas such as commercial, events management, finance, operations, grounds management, analytical performance, nutrition, youth development, academy development, to name a few over a 12 month period at no cost to the football club to develop and implement processes & procedures. Is this a negative?

Stuart – OWNA: To bring a community club under the clubs banner to create a player performance pathway for 500 youth players and allow the community club to sit on an advisory panel to set the clubs DNA that will run from top to bottom of the club. Is this a negative?

Jay – AL3: Essentially trivialities when considering the bigger picture

Stuart – OWNA: so to clarify, the positives raised you see as negatives for the club?

Jay – AL3: Your first point I’d like to come back to

Jay – AL3: Your second positive – if as stated, no of course it isn’t. The point is I don’t accept you can put a “Premier League Standard” team in place at Tier 7 at no cost. We’re not talking UCFB surely?

Stuart – OWNA: To increase the average attendance by over 100% bringing revenue into the club. Is this a negative?

Jay – AL3: Your third positive – In your Whitehaven interviews you also talked of player pathways. It is not some grounbreaking revelation for NL clubs to have player pathways.

Jay – AL3: Attendance is speculation until you’ve done it. I could cite one club, new owners last season, main stand done up, money into the team. Attendances not budged.

Stuart – OWNA: Like I said, 15 roles will be filled that do but currently exist within the football club. They will bring expertise and skills that the club have never had. Do you not see this as a positive.

Stuart – OWNA: The club will have 10,000 OWNAS. Do you not believe they will attend games throughout the season with a club strategically taken over for the location?

Jay – AL3: Nope, and if I were in your position, I certainly wouldn’t be gambling my livelihood on them doubling attendances.

Stuart – OWNA: Player pathway is not even close to being revolutionary. However I asked and will ask again. Do you not see 500 kids from a community team coming into the club to create a player pathway as a positive? Then the people involved in the youth advising on how the club should be run do you not see this as a positive.

Jay – AL3: Getting over a flu isn’t a negative, but it can be pretty irrelevant if you have a terminal illness.

Stuart – OWNA: No gambling on anything. We have created or will create 10,000 fans to come into the club. This revenue will be raised for the following year not accounted for inthe year based on forecasts. However you must be in denial thinking that 10,000 ownas will not attend 3 or 4 games a year of a club they are financially and emotionally attached to? Plus the secondary ground spend and the merchandise. This then going into a budget 12 months on. Do you see planning 12 months in advance as a negative?

Jay – AL3: That’s my point summed up. No, 500 kids in your youth team is no bad thing. But it’s largely irrelevant when it comes to addressing the concerns of the wider supporter movement.

Stuart – OWNA: Bringing 500 kids into the club planning for the future and creating a pathway is nothing other than a positive.

Jay – AL3: I’d also say that for someone who is promoting community decision making, you seem to have a lot of this already planned out and set in stone.. What if your 10,000 OWNAS don’t agree with you? What if they want to splurge the lot on a Billericay-style marquee signing?

Stuart – OWNA: I think taking a solid proposal to the OWNAS is essential. Do you see this as a negative?

Stuart – OWNA: The OWNAS decisions are final. However I do think we would struggle to find any that thought lifting attendances, creating player pathways. Bringing 500 kids into the club. Low ticket prices, forward planning and budgeting was a bad idea.

Jay – AL3: Likely not, you’re quite right. I couldn’t even really mount a compelling case against those particular parts myself. But I don’t think they outweigh the quite substantial concerns. Who owns the stadium for example?

Stuart – OWNA: You have so far failed to mention any negatives.

Stuart – OWNA: The stadium will be owned by OWNAFC limited. So owned by the fans.

Jay – AL3: So can I clarify

Jay – AL3: BBC said you have 2,500 members. With some PR over past few days lets say you’ve even double it to 5,000 members maybe

Jay – AL3: That’s £245,000

Jay – AL3: Now you said earlier club has no value

Stuart – OWNA: Long term planning, long term sustainability, debt free, community under one roof, fans advising the OWNAS. Amazing. Wouldn’t you agree?

Jay – AL3: I certainly don’t think you’ve come anywhere close to proving long term sustainability

Stuart – OWNA: There are many more than 2500 on now. Since the BBC news it’s really lifted. This will be well over 10,000 but let’s be conservative.

Jay – AL3: ok call it 10,000

Stuart – OWNA: No worries. 10k is good.

Stuart – OWNA: An we confirm we are not able to offer negatives and we are now moving onto your own opinion

Jay – AL3: You said club has no value. It makes no sense. You’re purchasing the club at nominal value (£1?) and a stadium, with investment left over to run club for sustained period?

Jay – AL3: Not an opinion, a question

Jay – AL3: Suggesting you haven’t proven sustainibility isn’t an opinion. It’s just fact. You haven’t proven it at all.

Stuart – OWNA: The club has no value. The asset is the only value.

Jay – AL3: By “assett” you’re referring to the stadium?

Jay – AL3: And in the hypothetical case of Hednesford, the 3G

Jay – AL3: Because earlier you said it was a seperate purchase.

Stuart – OWNA: Please can you advise why sustainability hasn’t been confirmed. I have just pointed out the business model is to invest on revenue streams for long term sustainability. We seem to be going over old ground after this was covered.

Stuart – OWNA: the stadium is an asset yes. This has value.

Stuart – OWNA: The clubs we are talking to do not have a 3G pitch. This however would be a revenue stream to create. Again building long term revenue for the club creating long term sustainability. Is this not a positive?

Jay – AL3: A positive promised by many club owners in the past and delivered by few

Stuart – OWNA: 100% agree. This is why as a collective we can be sure that the promises are met.

Jay – AL3: As an aside, I respect the fact you’ve given a lot of time to talk to me today. I hope you can accept my apologies, but I will have to leave it here for today. I dish out a lot of stick on this account and you’ve taken scrutiny better than most. I’m happy to continue at another time or I’m happy to leave it there. Totally up to you.

Jay – AL3: I’d personally like to continue maybe over the weekend but your call. If you feel I haven’t answered questions on negatives then I’m happy to come back on it.

Stuart – OWNA: I respect you holding a great debate and I should be able to answer all critique aimed at me and the concept or I would be concerned. I will struggle over the weekend as I am with the club and it’s gone huge with the numbers. I will invite you as a guest to the club to see what I have created and allow you to have lunch with me and have a full discussion. I think hand on heart you will change your opinion.

Stuart did, in closing, offer to meet up next week and discuss OWNA FC some more over dinner, watch this space!

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