Chelsea Pitch Owners 2013 AGM Preview

The Chelsea Pitch Owners AGM takes place in Stamford Bridge’s Harris Suite at 11am on Wednesday 30th January 2013. Hopefully this year’s AGM will see a continuation of the increased numbers of shareholders who are taking the time to attend meetings, make their views known and their votes count. It’s just a shame that the meeting is not only taking place in midweek, but due to the re-arrangement of the league game against Reading, on an away matchday, albeit a relatively nearby one. It remains to be seen whether these factors have an affect on attendance.

The agenda for the AGM is fairly routine stuff – adoption of accounts, re-election of Directors and permission to sell 1000 shares during the next 12 months. However, it would be hugely surprising if the Chairman, Steve Frankham, and his fellow Directors weren’t given a rough ride from the usual suspects on the floor, and no doubt questions will continue to be asked about the ‘disputed’ shares bulk sold in the run-up to the October 2011 EGM. The AGM will also allow a first opportunity for shareholders to question new directors, Sean Jones QC and Charles Rose about their philosophy on how CPO should operate going forward.

In a recent entry for his “Reality Cheques” blog, CPO shareholder James Greenbury writes that he has obtained and analysed the most up to date version of the shareholders’ register, and that recent sales of Chelsea Pitch Owners share do appear to have been sold to small shareholders, “probably genuine fans unconnected with the club”. This is excellent news and this momentum needs to be maintained and as many Chelsea fans as humanly possible encouraged to buy even a solitary share. It’s also encouraging that in a statement for the Chelsea Pitch Owners website, Steve Frankham confirmed that the club are now urging various departments to promote share sales, including the inclusion of promotional flyers with this year’s season ticket renewal paperwork. It’s estimated that around 400 shares have been sold since July’s AGM which, other than the flurry of shares sold in the run up to the October 2011 EGM, represents the biggest sale of shares for many, many years. And of course, as James Greenbury points out, every time a genuine Chelsea supporter buys a share, this negates a share purchased by a shareholder believed to be a ‘connected person’, i.e. a shareholder who may have invested at the behest of Chelsea FC with a view to skewing not only the vote at the 2011 EGM, but any vote going forward.

Whilst the initial cost of a hundred pounds is a lot of money, especially in the current economic climate, a CPO share makes an excellent birthday present, especially for landmark occasions, and it would be great if Chelsea fans perhaps asked their families/friends, instead of giving several little presents, to give them the gift of a CPO share instead. It’s also good news that although the “Pay As You Can” scheme mooted at last year’s EGM hasn’t yet been given the go-ahead, Gray Smith and Sean Jones are to liaise to see if this can be implemented. Such a scheme would undoubtedly lead to many more rank and file supporters being able to afford a share and spead the cost over a period of time.

Steve Frankham’s New Year message referred to fundraising meetings. These meetings certainly haven’t been well publicised (the writer of this article only became aware of the existence of the initial meeting second-hand), and, worryingly, sources have claimed that Chelsea FC charged CPO £500 for the hire of a room for the second meeting held which only four people attended. Having seen the feedback produced from these fundraising meetings, there are grounds for concern that many of the ideas proposed are aimed squarely at the same people who are able to afford to attend the Annual Lunch (and, of course, prior to that the CPO lunch). Again, any fundraising proposals must bear in mind the current economic climate and the squeezed finances of ordinary supporters who are already struggling to afford match tickets.They should not be solely the preserve of Executive Club members.

In light of the above, the scene is set for an interesting and hopefully progressive AGM, and there’ll be a full report of proceedings on TheChels.Net.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @BlueBaby67

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