YORK CITY have been put up for sale after the Supporters’ Trust voted not to hand back their 25 per cent shareholding to the club.
Chairman Jason McGill had wanted the fans’ body to gift the shares in return for a commitment from his company, JM Packaging, to continue funding the Minstermen until their scheduled move to a new stadium in 2019.
A special general meeting was held on Thursday night in the city to debate the ‘Golden Share’ proposal before a vote was taken among members. Of the 910 eligible to take part, 262 voted against the motion with 123 in favour.
McGill, who had warned supporters beforehand that a ‘no’ vote would lead to JM Packaging ceasing to cover the club’s future losses, responded yesterday afternoon by revealing to The Yorkshire Post website that the National League North outfit are now up for sale.
He said: “I was immensely disappointed at the decision (Thursday night) by a majority of 139 members of the York City Supporters’ Trust, to decline my offer of financing the football club until the opening of the new Community Stadium, which clearly has a wide reaching impact upon the substantial loyal York City fan base.
“It is, therefore, with deep regret I consider there is no alternative other than to offer the interests of J M Packaging Limited in the football club for sale to someone who is able to reconcile the Trust’s objective of operating on a break-even financial position, whilst providing both the finances and aspiration necessary for any sporting entity to be successful.”
No price has been put on York, who sit fourth in the sixth tier and are firmly on course to qualify for the play-offs.
But a deadline for interested parties, which includes the Supporters’ Trust under the terms of the agreement that saw McGill become the majority shareholder in 2006, to register their interest has been set for April 30, two days after the regular season ends with a trip to Brackley Town.
If no willing buyer can be found, York could face a drastic round of cost-cutting to balance the books. In the last available accounts for 2015-16 losses stood at around £700,000 for the financial year.
JM Packaging, who continue to hold a 75 per cent shareholding, first became involved with York in March 2003 when, in conjunction with the Trust, the club were brought out of administration.
At the time the Trust held an 85 per cent shareholding and McGill’s company the rest.
The current make-up has stood since 2006 when Trust members voted in favour of the change in return for JM Packaging providing £1m funding to take the club through to the new stadium’s scheduled opening date of 2011.
Since then numerous delays have hit the Monks Cross project, but work did finally start last December. McGill’s desire for the Trust to hand back their shares had its roots in those delays to the completion of the 8,000-capacity stadium.
“I raised the issue of future funding with the board of the Supporters’ Trust in May 2016,” he wrote in a letter circulated to Trust members ahead of Thursday’s vote.
“My initial agreement with the YCST was to end in June 2011, but the club needed access to financial support until delivery of the new stadium, so I agreed to continue to finance the club and dedicate my time until June 2016 when the stadium was due to be opened.
“The project was delayed again with the likelihood that the stadium would not be completed until June 2019. The club needed financing until this date, which was raised with the Trust Board in May 2016.
“Over the period since 2006 my company, JM Packaging, has continued to fund the club and, subject to agreement of the proposal set out to the members, will continue to do so until occupation of the New Community Stadium.
“But I believe it only equitable and reasonable that JM Packaging receives the Trust’s 25 per cent shares for the £1m-plus needed from my company to fund the club from June 2016 to June 2019.”
York are without a game today due to scheduled opponents Nuneaton having three players on international duty.
The Minstermen will host Southport on Tuesday.