Jon Hale, who is leading the group of local businessmen who have put together the Hereford FC proposal, has today released the following open letter.
He has released the letter as the group, working alongside Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST), work hard to finalise the Expression of Interest they will be sending to Herefordshire Council ahead of Thursday’s deadline to try to secure the lease for the newly formed club to use the Edgar Street stadium from the start of the 2015/16.
The aim of the letter is to give fans – and anyone with an interest in the future of football at Edgar Street – a detailed overview of the current status of the Hereford FC proposal.
Dear fellow Hereford United fans and the wider Herefordshire community,
I’d like to start by putting on record how grateful I am for the support and interest so many people have shown in our group and its proposals to form Hereford FC over the past few months. To each and every one of you, thank you.
The support has given us great motivation to ensure we put together a plan that embraces everything that is good about Herefordshire, with the local community and stakeholders at the core of the club, and their skills and enthusiasm providing the platform from which we build.
I believe the support for Hereford FC to play at Edgar Street is deafening. There can be no doubt that a huge number of Herefordshire people want Hereford FC at Edgar Street for years to come.
I very much hope every single decision maker in this process at Herefordshire Council reads this letter to see how supporters are getting behind the proposal that creates a partnership between our group and Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST) – an organisation that now has more than 1700 members.
Of course, we now come up to the most critical period for our proposal because, by the end of February, we will know if Hereford FC will be the club playing at Edgar Street.
We hope we will have done enough by the time we make our presentation (on Monday 23 February) to tick all the boxes for Herefordshire Council, and be granted the opportunity to go forward and create a football club you can all be proud of.
After what we have all experienced with Hereford United FC in the past 9 months, the absolute minimum should be for the club that takes on the lease to have community values, behave with openness and honesty, and ensure supporters feel respected and valued.
I am confident that what we have put together demonstrates to you that those are our core values.
Our application is nearly ready to go into the Council, and it has given us a chance to stand back and look at the whole picture. When you consider the following summary points, you’ll see why we are so excited about having the opportunity to get Hereford FC started alongside HUST, and why we hope Herefordshire Council consider our bid to be the right one:
97% of the Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST) members who voted in a recent ballot, (77% of the total membership – more than 1000 fans), voted in favour of a partnership being formed with the Hereford FC group to form and run the club.
HUST will now play a huge role in running the club alongside the Hereford FC group, with the Club’s Board involving at least 3 HUST Board members at all times (as per the Articles of Association). The increased involvement of HUST gives supporters more power than they’ve ever had before.
Hereford FC intends to create a youth pathway for players to go through the United In The Community (UITC) system, (from 8-18), right into the first team. Supporters have a real desire to see this happen so we keep our very best local players at our local club and see them progress to first team football.
Hereford FC has received support from many local companies who appreciate the club will be run by honest local people, and can see the real benefits to their business on match days .
The club has one of Hereford United’s former players, a much favoured player in his time, very interested in becoming Community Director. This Community Director, which HUST take responsibility for, will take the club into local schools, colleges, clubs and associations and also have a vital role meeting and greeting people on match day at the ground.
Hereford FC has received numerous tweets, Facebook messages, e-mails and forum messages applauding our honest and transparent approach to our proposals, doing our best to keep the important people – the fans – in the loop at all times.
On the back of the presentation we made to supporters at an Open Meeting at the Welsh Club in Hereford – a meeting that saw more than 300 people turn up, meaning many had to be turned away, another significant Hereford United supporting benefactor has come forward who understands and supports the strict ‘no return, and all profits to the club’ policy.
Hereford FC has had many expressions of interest from supporters looking to buy shares on the same basis – local people who want to help a club that is run by honest and trusted Herefordians.
Membership of HUST continues to escalate to record levels as supporters look to be part of the journey we hope to set off on.
The club has received more than 120 offers (to date) from volunteers willing to help repair the ground and offer other services. A Volunteers Co-ordinator has had to be appointed to keep track of the number of offers that have come in.
Over 200 e-mails (to date) of support have come in for Hereford FC to be given the chance to play at Edgar Street, many of these will accompany our application to Herefordshire Council. If you want to be sure the council know the strength of feeling there is for Hereford FC, please do get in touch and show your support.
A number of former employees of Hereford United have offered their help and expertise to Hereford FC, with both the old club’s official historian and the former official photographer joining the ranks this week alongside the former Media Officer and website/programme editor. These are local people wanting to help launch a new local club.
We have had messages from football supporters all over the world expressing their support and enthusiasm for a new club led by a partnership between our group and HUST.
The club website (www.herefordfc.co.uk) is receiving thousands of hits as people keep abreast of the developments as we look to bid for the Edgar Street lease.
The club Twitter page (@HerefordFC) is being followed by 4,406 (as of 13/02) who are seeing daily updates on our progress.
The Hereford FC proposals have been covered regularly by all local media including BBC Hereford & Worcester, Hereford Times, Worcester News, Malvern Gazette, Western Daily Press and BBC Midlands Today. There was also a double page spread about the future of football in Hereford in the Daily Mail on Saturday 14 February.
HUST have received over 100 entries for their badge/club crest design competition for the new club.
The club has had several national kit suppliers appreciating the great potential of Hereford FC and wanting to become suppliers.
There has been an approach from a local Chaplain offering his services to the club.
There is already a clamour for season tickets to go on sale at the first possible opportunity as people look to show their support to Hereford FC.
The Football Association, in a meeting at Wembley last week, said they are keen to help the club achieve the highest level possible following the heartbreak of the past 12 months.
There’s plenty more I could say, but I hope you get the flavour of what is happening here.
Local people are excited about the club they love being given back to the community, run by Herefordshire people and involving HUST as the key partner. Hereford FC has a heartbeat already, but evidently we can do nothing until the lease for Edgar Street is awarded – hopefully to this club.
We really look forward to demonstrating to the Council how our proposals can benefit the city, its businesses, the county and the wider community. We will also demonstrate how we intend to successfully operate a sustainable football club that supporters can be proud of – not just on match day, but every day.
One final note.
I want to personally thank every member of the team behind the scenes that has helped put together this proposal.
I dread to think how many hours have gone into this over the past 9 months, but a team of dedicated and passionate supporters have drawn on their experience, knowledge, passion and beliefs to mould the Hereford FC plan. It is a plan I am very proud of.
I now personally urge Herefordshire Council to give Hereford, Herefordshire and so many people from this area what they evidently crave, Hereford FC playing at Edgar Street.