Sunday, May 17, 2015

Your club needs you... Now !

It has always been eventful being a supporter of Torquay United - footballs most frustratingly entertaining team.

Torquay United do not do mediocrity and like to ensure a thrilling end to each season by either challenging for promotion or fighting relegation:

  • May 2007 - Relegated to the Conference for the first time. A new consortium takes ownership of the club
  • May 2008 - Lose Conference play-off semi-final to Exeter City and are beaten in the FA Trophy Final by Ebbsfleet United
  • May 2009 - Beat Cambridge United in play-off final at Wembley
  • May 2011 - Beaten by Stevenage Borough in League Two play-offf final
  • May 2012 - Beaten in League Two play-off semi-final by Cheltenham Town
  • April 2014 - Relegated to the Conference having finished bottom of League Two

The 2014/15 season has been turbulent for the Gulls. Having been relegated from the Football League, the Gulls started brightly in the Conference. In September they were second in the league after a 10-game unbeaten run which included six successive victories. However in October, the Gulls failed to make the FA Cup first round for the first time in club history after a 2-0 defeat at Aldershot in the fourth qualifying round. The demise in league form followed and they recorded only one win in 12 league games. Paul Sturrock, an experienced league manager, was brought in to act as an advisor but only lasted for 4 days before he left to manage Yeovil Town

With the Gulls in one of their lowest ever league positions, Thea Bristow - the Torquay United chairman - announced in January that she would step down at the end of the season and sell the club, explaining in a statement "It is best for me and my family that I step down and allow others to take the club forward".

Thea Bristow, and her late husband Paul, had been part of the consortium that took over the Gulls in 2007. Having won the National Lottery, the Bristows funded the return to the Football League and also the new grandstand - Bristow's Bench.

Bristow's Bench

The commitment and contributions that the Bristow's have made to Torquay United cannot be underestimated and should never be forgotten, but as Thea Bristow explained "As I am sure people will appreciate,the role of chairman can be a stressful one and recently it has had an impact on my health. Therefore now is the right time to say that I think I have done enough. It's been almost five years since Paul passed away and I have basically been majority funding the club since, including helping to build Bristow's Bench, which we will always be proud of. We have enjoyed some great times, including the Wembley appearances, promotions and the FA Cup runs, not to be forgotten"

In a final act of generosity, Thea Bristow converted all of the £3million invested into shares in the club, meaning that the club is effectively debt-free.

Despite this, new owners will still need to invest in order to run and operate the football club and to have cash flow. The financial status has been highlighted by the latest balance sheet that has been issued to shareholders. It shows that the Gulls had a deficit of more than £500,000 for the year ended 30 June 2014.

In the last few days it has been announced that a proposed takeover of the club has fallen through. This is now a crucial time for Torquay United as on 2 June 2015 there is the Annual General Meeting of the Conference League, at which point the club will need to present clear evidence of ownership and financial funding for next season. Any uncertainty may result in the Conference demanding a £250,000 "bond" to secure next season's fixtures.

Torquay United Supporters Trust (TUST)

The Torquay United Supporters Trust has been revived. It is planning to allow supporters to have a stake in their club, through representation at board level and in a community facing football club. The aim of the Supporters Trust is " work on your [the supporters] behalf to secure a financial stake in the club through the acquisition of shares, giving us real influence in the boardroom, and with your support one day we could become the majority shareholder, and the fans will own the club"

The TUST is mindful of the of the overall timeframe as well as the significance of the approaching Conference AGM. The TUST are offering their help and support to all parties involved in securing the future of Torquay United Football Club. However the TUST is fully prepared to enter the bidding process either in its own right or in conjunction with other interested parties.

If you want to see the future of Torquay United secured and for supporters to eventually own a part / minority share in the club, then join the Torquay United Supporters Trust now. For details see here (

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