A Question and Answer session took place on the morning of January 4th, prior to Kick-Off in the FA Cup game, with the Together Leeds group answering questions from Leeds United fans. A transcript of the Q&A can be found below. For the purpose of clarity: Simon O’Rourke nor any 2900Miles.com contributor took part in the session.
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Q: My question is who runs the twitter account? (@WACCOE_)
Q: How did the Monday night meeting become TL? How and when did this happen? (Russell Doig)
A: Mike Farnan tweeted his plan to meet with LUFC fans, some asked to attend, others were invited by Gary Cooper. Nobody knew more than half of the people in the room. There were no cliques, just individual passionate Leeds fans.
Q: Who is setting the agenda? (lockstock)
A: There was no agenda & no minute taking. No one person dominated. We all listened respectfully. At the end we agreed that there is a need for fan ownership and influence. The group asked me (Dylan Thwaites) to lead this first phase.
Q: The intention is to buy the 25% stake that GFH own – how? Who is paying for it? Shares, and also the debt that comes with it? (braddersmd)
A: Leeds fans supporting Together Leeds have enough wealth to buy the GFH 25% stake and any legitimate debt that passes due diligence, we want as wide support base as possible, so initial values need to be accessible or we need to allow fan groups to pool funds.
Q: Did anyone ask Mike Farnan why, if funding to purchase the 25% is already in place, they have not done so? (braddersmd)
A: I have met with the Farnan-Verity Group & can confirm that there are a no. of Leeds fan backers capable of funding it individually the owners of the 25% are sitting on their hands which is one reason MC has been unable to invest fully. We need to force a change.
Q: 1) Who is selling? 2) Where’s the money coming from? 3) LUST reckon you can’t legally do it? (@arcticreviews)
A: 1) We need to persuade the non MC 25% to sell to break the log jam 2) Leeds fans rich and poor 3) Not true
Q: Fans should have a right to send someone [to the meeting] to represent their views. (theseagullbus)
A: There is an open invitation to attend the next meeting. Just contact us or tweet #TogetherLeedsMeeting to register interest.Q:
Q: Why the need for a new fans alliance, headed by a couple of ‘individuals’ when we already have The Trust? (Jackos)
A: LUST, LUSC, RMC, SLI, SS5… All do brilliant but different work. Together Leeds is solely about fan ownership. No need to fight each other.
Q: What makes you think Cellino will let anyone else get their hands on GFH’s 25%? (Jackos)
A: If the 25% agree to sell, MC has right to 1st refusal. Currently FL won’t allow him to exercise that right. Either way we break the log jam.
A: Can further Leeds fans join TL on an equal footing to those who attended the first meeting? (mydadin72)
A: YES. No preferential treatment. I’ll report back to founders until meeting 2 (M2). At M2 we give mandate to handful of us to deliver actual results, and feedback to the whole of the community, (subject to reasonable commercial and confidentiality requirements).
Q: Which one of the fans (not any of the Farnan-Verity Group) initiated the request to hand over the name Together Leeds? (Russell Doig)
A: I suggested MF hand it over as its profile & 5000 followers would let a fan ownership community emerge quickly. He consented immediately.
Q: Why was 4th Jan chosen when a lot of fans will be on their way to Sunderland? (Mcpolar)
A: Q&A will hopefully provoke discussion en route to Sunderland & in the ground. Many questions asked earlier. Answers will remain later.
Q: Do you have specific goals, i.e. a short, medium, and long term plan and can these be released to everyone? (@adamclarke19)
A: Long term goal is to make LUFC great again. We need to utilise our greatest asset – the fans. So short term we want to control the 25%.
Q: What will the setup be within the club if the bid is successful? (@adamclarke19)
A: The current 25% have 2 board members, we would need to develop a fair mechanism for putting 2 fans on the board.
Q: What are the time scales for getting everything together in preparation & when do you envisage is being able to submit a bid? (@adamclarke19)
A: There are so many potential scenarios that we need to be able to move quickly if necessary, but we should aim to start making progress after the second meeting.
Q: How will the finances work? Will fans be investing money? (@EdJones92)
A: Yes fans will invest money, the mechanism is open to debate. We are reviewing Spanish, German and UK ideas to find the best fit for us.
Q: Who is in charge? What will TL’s relationship with LUST be? Have you had any recent dialogue with GFH? (@EdJones92)
A: I’m [Dylan Thwaites] in charge until the second meeting, no dialogue with GFH yet. LUST is a massively important fan group & we hope it will help us achieve fan ownership at LUFC
Q: There is only one question really; do you have enough money/funds to take-over the club including debt and to run it correctly? (@SiEd67)
A: Yes. The Farnan-Verity group are backing this initiative and I know they evidenced proof of funds to the FL, plus 100’s of other Leeds fans keen also.
Q: No offence but what can @TogetherLeeds bring to the table? (@barrattello9)
A: None taken! Transparency, funding and a voice to our greatest asset – the fans. No in-fighting. A way out of this perpetual nightmare.
Q: Is there a realistic chance we can obtain at least 25% from Nooruddin etc? (@whitemaremma)
A: Yes, the LUFC adventure has brought shame and embarrassment to some GFH related investors, we may be able to help with a face saving exit.
Q: How receptive is Massimo to your overtures? (@steakandsidney)
A: We haven’t talked directly to MC, he’s in Miami. But we have reason to believe he is willing to explore the idea with us. He is a Leeds fan after all.
Q: Hi, could I contact you through email or any other form of communication rather than twitter? Thanks (@themightyleeds)
A: We are trying to follow back as many as possible to facilitate DM on twitter, but you can also email [email protected]
Q: This stake in the club we are trying to purchase, Is it even for sale? Because that’s a major stumbling block really. (@leedshunter)
A: In business, everything is for sale. (Don’t we know it at Leeds!) We believe the 25% would exit if the right formula can be found.
Q: There have been many rumours linking you to Cellino, could you work with the current owner? (@ingham37)
A: We are not linked, but would work with MC. The 25% is causing a log jam. He can’t do anything about it because of FL restrictions.
Q: If you purchase 25% of Lufc. Do you have the backing to put money in for transfers and such and also pay down current debt? (@Dannyshiels)
A: Yes, an individual in the Farnan-Verity group was prepared to match the original Cellino bid by himself. There are many more wealthy Leeds fans.
Q: Please ensure that there is a way to conference in or Skype in to your January meeting. Thanks (@ChatLUFC)
A: Once we have a venue we will work on this.
Q: Have you held/will you be looking to speak with the various sections, e.g. LUST, Ray fell? (@campotheclown)
A: I will try to meet all major fan groups before M2 and reassure them that a fan owned LUFC benefits us all. Who should be on my list?
Q: How do you plan to give the fans a voice with the 25%? Do fans purchase “shares” of the 25% or do we just trust you? (@bstackslufc)
A: There are many different fan ownership schemes we are assessing them all. Fans should have shares and choose who represents their voice.
Q: Sorry but how can @TogetherLeeds expect Cellino to work with them when half the people in it really want shut of him? (@_Lee_Wood_)
A: While many of us criticised the lack of due diligence in the purchase from GFH, there is no arguing his passion for LUFC. The target is the 25% of shares held by others. This shareholding is stopping MC from implementing his investment plans. So we expect MC to welcome us.
Q: Does the 25% being targeted, if sold, then retain the same veto/voting power after transfer? (Knowsjack)
A: Terms would have to be negotiated at the time.
Q: How would the fans involvement be able to effect or veto decisions in the future, will it have any voting rights in the board? (Lockstock)
A: A 25% stake gives significant minority rights. We would expect two board members as per the existing arrangement.
Q: What strategy will be used in attempting to purchase GFH’s 25%? (Stoptap)
A: We need the 25% (GFH and others) to appreciate the benefits of leaving LUFC with honour intact.
Q: How the hell can you represent fans when most fans disagree on everything? (@_Lee_Wood_)
A: Be the change you want to see. Who disagrees with “Side before self every time”? There’s a starting point, we are the clubs greatest asset.
Q: Are TL looking for a majority or minority stake in the club? (@MDu5_)
A: We seek the 25% minority stake. If MC is forced to sell by the FL, we would seek a majority stake.
Q: I wonder how much input LUST / Cooperman will have? (@blackpoolwhite)
A: Gary Cooper and the chair of LUST were among the 15 in the first meeting. Neither tried to nor succeeded in driving the agenda. I think I was asked to lead this first stage because I only knew one person in the room. Conscious attempt to avoid factions.
Q: What percentage of the funding is Mike Farnan and his backers supplying? (@_Lee_Wood_)
A: The Farnan-Verity Group can underwrite the whole amount, but we want a wide share ownership, so they will only take up what’s left over.
Q: Where’s your mandate from & why do you think you speak for the majority when you are a self-selected quorum? (@farriersreg)
A: Give us a chance! We only met each other for the first time two weeks ago. We are not trying to speak for anyone except ourselves we have made a proposal and we now want a mandate from those that also desire fan ownership of LUFC.
Q: So can MC buy the 25% or not? TL saying the FL won’t let him? (@Poosewhite)
A: The FL would not give him approval to buy the 25%.
Q: So if a wide base secured the 25%, could would Farnan/Verity be able to look at a portion or all Cellino share? (@MooneyJ7G)
A: Our focus is on the 25%. If the FL force MC to sell then we could use the same mechanism to secure fan ownership of the whole.
Q: Should circumstances dictate his departure, are the group still in a position to buy Cellino’s stake in LUFC? (@Ken_DeMange)
Q: Is there a time scale as to when TL plan to make contact with GFH? As we need rid of them from them club. (@PaulBrewerLUFC)
A: We would like to see them before meeting 2. We hope they can see it is in their interests to get a clean exit from LUFC.
Q: Can you give us a realistic timeline for acquiring the 25%? We’re not in a great place right now, this is urgent. (@CharlieChar)
A: There are so many variables that we just have to be flexible. The first step is to start talking.
Q: Realistically how much do you think it would cost for the 25% surley if gfh sold they would want all debt to them paid (@steady1919)
A: Again so many variables. Due diligence would be needed to understand the real position. Other legal matters could force the sale
Q: Are Farnan/Verity willing to bid for 75% if Cellino fails the Football League’s O&DT? (@Jerrysmith0101)
A: We would use @TogetherLeeds as a vehicle to bid for fan ownership. Farnan-Verity would provide additional firepower.
Q: If you have funds why not concentrate on buying GFH stake first, then engage with fans after? Would prove you’re credible. (@matthewrburch)
A: We are satisfied with the credibility of Farnan-Verity. Our objective is fan ownership, we don’t speak for Farnan-Verity.
Q: When is meeting 2 scheduled for? (@fisherpaul330)
A: A – The end of January. TBC.
Q: So if a “fan” arrived with greater cash sum than them they would happily sit back with minority holding? (@jamesjamesbrown)
A: We see it like floating the Post Office. Smaller shareholders satisfied first. Remainder taken by bigger boys. All fans though.
Q: How are you proposing that 40,000 fans have their voice heard at board level? Who will actually sit on the board? Farnan? (@LeedsFanz)
A: We’re looking at a few models – Dortmund, Barca, Madrid, Munich, St Pauli, Swansea… Let’s see what works the best for LUFC.
Q: Is the aim to work with Cellino or get him out? I’ve seen conflicting messages from those attending the 1st meeting. (@LeedsFanz)
A: We want the non Cellino 25%. This log jam is preventing MC investing. Our input would help MC deliver his promises.
Q: Do you think all those who followed the previous Together Leeds is a good balanced representation of #lufc fans? (@LeedsFanz)
A: Please come to meeting 2. There is nothing pro or anti Cellino in wanting fan ownership of the non-Cellino shares.