Wednesdayite

Wednesdayite

Infobox Organization
name = Wednesdayite, The Sheffield Wednesday Supporters' Society


image_border =
size = 200px
caption = Logo of Wednesdayite
abbreviation =
motto =
formation = 2005
type =
status = Registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 - 78
purpose =
headquarters = Sheffield
location =
region_served =
membership = 1,100+ (as at July 2008)
language =
leader_title = Chairman
leader_name = Darryl Keys
main_organ =
parent_organization =
affiliations = Supporters Direct, Football Supporters' Federation
num_staff =
num_volunteers =
budget =
website = http://www.wednesdayite.com
remarks =

:"Wednesdayite" is also a term commonly used to refer to any supporter of Sheffield Wednesday F.C."Wednesdayite, the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Society is the largest independent supporters group for Sheffield Wednesday fans and the second largest shareholder in Sheffield Wednesday PLC.

Profile

"Wednesdayite" is the trading name of Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Society Limited, an independent football supporters trust which owns 10.07% of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, making it one of the largest single shareholders of Sheffield Wednesday PLC.

As a democratic members' organisation, Wednesdayite's mission statement is:

"To act as responsible custodians over a meaningful shareholding in Sheffield Wednesday in order to develop and maintain a democratic, effective and influential role for Wednesday fans in the running of the Club and to strengthen the bonds between the Club and its community."
cite web|title=Wednesdayite aims and objectives|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.9|accessdate=2008-07-22]

Wednesdayite have a number of schemes with the aim of benefiting Sheffield Wednesday and its community, including Coaching Schemes for local schools, Match day members bar, Away match coach transport, Match day car park, Smile tickets scheme - enabling people to attend football matches at Hillsborough that would not normally be able to attend, Schedule of events and morecite web|title=Wednesdayite Member Services|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?cat.5|accessdate=2008-07-22] .

Wednesdayite as an organisation are members of Supporters Direct,cite web|title=Supporters Direct Members|url=http://www.supporters-direct.org/englandwales/links.htm|accessdate=2007-03-10] a government-led trust initiative, and the Football Supporters' Federation.

History

Previous to 'Wednesdayite', the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters' Society functioned under the name of 'The Owls Trust' which was originally set up in 2001. At the time, Sheffield Wednesday club directors Dave Allen, Keith Addy and Geoff Hulley bought an amount of shares in the club equal to 36.7% of the total share capital of Sheffield Wednesday PLC, from investment company Charterhouse.cite web|title=BBC News - Fans get stake in Owls|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/1196668.stm|accessdate=2008-07-22]

The purchase of more than 29.9% of any company triggers a mandatory bid for the remaining shares in company law,cite web|title=The Takeover Panel Rules|url=http://www.thetakeoverpanel.org.uk/consultation/pcp10.htm|accessdate=2007-03-10] however to avoid making such a bid, a portion of those shares equal to 9.46% of Sheffield Wednesday PLC were donated to the fledgeling fans' trust.cite web|title=BBC News - Fans get stake in Owls|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/1196668.stm|accessdate=2007-03-10]

In their previous incarnation as "The Owls Trust" the organisation angered the then chairman of Sheffield Wednesday, Dave Allen, as well as many of the fans, with a perception of supporting a takeover bid by Ken Bates.cite web|title=BBC News - Allen hits back in fight for Owls|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/southyorkshire/sport/2004/03/29/bates.shtml|accessdate=2007-03-10] However, the organisation - in particular its chief executive John Hemmingham and chairman Jim Harrison - maintained that it was not supporting a takeover, but was supporting the principle of allowing potential investors, including Ken Bates, access to relevant documents in order to formulate an educated bid for the company. This feud resulted in the trust being evicted from their offices in Hillsborough.cite web|title=The Guardian - Down among the debt men|url=http://observer.guardian.co.uk/sport/story/0,6903,1345317,00.html|accessdate=2007-03-10]

Hemmingham eventually quit in March 2005 when Bates took control of Yorkshire rivals Leeds and offered him a job as "Head of Membership Development". The move reportedly saw Hemmingham receive death threats,cite web|title=Yorkshire Post - Owls fan's switch sparks death threats|url=http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/football/Owls-fan39s-switch-sparks-death.977741.jp|accessdate=2007-03-10] and many fans believe that Hemmingham's actions vindicated Allen.

In light of previous perceptions of the organisation, The Owls Trust received a number of candidates for its board elections in May 2005 and once elected the new board rebranded the organisation to a much more fan-friendly name of 'Wednesdayite' in August 2005.cite web|title=Indy Media|url=http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/sheffield/2005/09/323455.html|accessdate=2007-03-10] Jim Harrison was replaced at this same time as Chairman by Darryl Keys, a former merchant banker with responsibility for Sports Finance.

Since the rebranding the trust has massively grown in size, although they still attract a lot of controversy. Despite regular attempts to communicate with the club's directors (as dictated by the members who voted massively in favour of working with the current board)cite web|title=Wednesdayite Survey Results|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/documents/WEDNESDAYITE-SPRING-2007-SURVEY.pdf|accessdate=2007-03-10] many in that board are still hostile to Wednesdayite.

Good causes and community initiatives

Good Cause Funds

Upon the formation of 'Wednesdayite', a number of good-cause funds were set up to allow donators to choose the purpose of their donation. The funds set up arecite web|title=Wednesdayite Good Cause Funds|url=http://wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.115|accessdate=2008-07-21] :

*1) Community Fund (To aid the Society ’s community objectives, ranging from assistance to disadvantaged fans to helping young footballers at the Club Academy),
*2) Facilities Fund (To improve the match day experience for the fans at the Club through the investment in fixed assets such as catering facilities, a new scoreboard or bar areas),
*3) Squadbuilder Fund (To assist the improvement and competitiveness of the playing squad at the Club as and when required),
*4) Shares Fund (For share purchase to increase the Society ’s shareholding in the club)

A further initiative was later set up to collect funds for the specific purpose of buying matchday tickets for disadvantaged persons who, for whatever reason, would normally be able to attend a Sheffield Wednesday match. This scheme, called Smile Tickets, was later adopted as a model for other trusts to use by Supporters Direct.

Whilst these good cause funds are still in operation for any possible future use, Sheffield Wednesday indicated that they would not accept donations for specific purposes and therefore any monies collected remain in their respective bank accounts - with the exception of 'Smile Tickets', of which Wednesdayite use the funds to purchase matchday tickets at full retail value from the Sheffield Wednesday ticket office to continue the scheme.

Wednesdayite attempted to force the club to accept donations for specific purposes by tabling a resolution for this at the 2006 Sheffield Wednesday PLC AGMcite web|title=Wednesdayite 2006 Sheffield Wednesday PLC Annual General Meeting Comment|url=http://wednesdayite.com/Sheffield_Wednesday_Supporters_Society_content57.html|accessdate=2008-07-21] . However the votes of the then board members, who held a combined controlling 30%+ shareholding in the PLC, ensured the resolution was rejected and the current management of the club have not indicated they will accept the donations.

Primary Schools Coaching Scheme

Another highly regarded community initiative facilitated by Wednesdayite is the Primary Schools Coaching Scheme, of which former Sheffield Wednesday coach Steve Adams provides free curricular-time football coaching under the Wednesdayite banner to Primary Schools and Special Needs schools throughout the community. Wednesdayite secure grants on an annual basis to provide this service, which has so far coached over 8,000 children from over 20 schoolscite web|title=Wednesdayite Achievements|url=http://wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.138|accessdate=2008-07-21] .

Car Park and Member Services

Additionally, Wednesdayite provide a number of usually discounted facilities for members to maintain a social atmosphere and build up links in the community, such as; Discussion meetings, Dinners and events, Comedy evenings, Matchday lounge bar-facility, Matchday car-park and morecite web|title=Wednesdayite Member Services|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?cat.5|accessdate=2007-03-10] .

hareholding and takeover talks

Whilst Wednesdayite's 10.07% shareholding is regarded as a valuable asset for a supporters' trust by the Government initiative, Supporters Direct and their member trustscite web|title=Supporters Direct Mission and History|url=http://supporters-direct.org/page.asp?p=1988|accessdate=2008-07-21] , it has courted a lot of controversy with the Sheffield Wednesday board and sections of fanscite web|title=Allen blasts fans as takeover collapses|url=http://www.thestar.co.uk/owls/Allen-blasts-fans-as-takeover.3048834.jp|accessdate=2008-07-21] .

In September 2005, the former Sheffield Wednesday Chairman, Dave Allen, offered to buy Wednesdayite's share of the club for around £330,000 (which would be put back into the playing squad budget). However Allen refused to address a Wednesdayite members' meeting to discuss this purchase and additionally it was not made clear how any ensuing Capital Gains Tax would be paid to the Inland Revenue, which would possibly leave the Supporters' Trust in tens of thousands of pounds' debt. Wednesdayite members democratically voted in favour of rejecting the offer.

Infamously, Allen claims to have increased this offer to £500,000 (from the initial £333,000)cite web|title=Allen blasts fans as takeover collapses|url=http://www.thestar.co.uk/owls/Allen-blasts-fans-as-takeover.3048834.jp|accessdate=2008-07-21] , however no formal written offer was ever received by Wednesdayite and therefore no ballot of members took place regarding this offer.

In July 2007 Wednesdayite were accused in part of being responsible by Dave Allen for the collapse of a takeover by former Everton director Paul Gregg due to their 10.07% shareholding,cite web|title=BBC News|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/s/sheff_wed/6908681.stm|accessdate=2007-03-10] a claim which Wednesdayite deny. Since then, Wednesdayite have balloted both members and non-members to gauge opinion on their shareholding across the entire fanbase; and held a vote to decide if members would be willing to listen to offers from any new investor.

Members have now voted in favour of listening to offers and Wednesdayite, on 2 October 2007, also pledged their shares to a scheme backed by the Sheffield Wednesday Shareholders Association to listen to any offers from new investors willing to achieve a 51% shareholding in the businesscite web|title=Wednesdayite announce result of SA share vote|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/Sheffield_Wednesday_Supporters_Society_news-i10-2.html|accessdate=2008-07-21] .

On 13 February 2008, Wednesdayite Chairman Darryl Keys revealed that the group had been approached by different parties with regards to the processes involving the sale of their shareholding.cite web|title=Sporting Life|url=http://www.sportinglife.com/football/nationwide1/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=soccer/08/02/13/manual_184257.html&TEAMHD=nationwide1|accessdate=2008-03-09] One of those parties was later revealed to be Geoff Sheard, who is said to be fronting a 'Swiss-based trust' and is said to be at an "advanced stage" in steps to buy the club.cite web|title=Wednesdayite - Takeover Latest|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/news.php?item.44.2|accessdate=2008-03-09] Wednesdayite membership has significantly increased since the announcements with all members promised they will take part in any future potential vote deciding whether to sell the sharescite web|title=Wednesdayite Membership Update|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/news.php?item.43.2|accessdate=2008-03-09] .

Both Wednesdayite and the Shareholders Association announced they had met with Geoff Sheard on the afternoon of Monday 21st April to discuss how their respective shareholdings figured in a potential takeover by Sheards groupcite web|title=Wednesdayite and The Shareholders Association meet with potential investor|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/news.php?extend.59|accessdate=2008-07-21] .

Due to the length of time taken to complete a takeover of the club, speculation mounted amongst the Sheffield Wednesday fanbase as to the role of Wednesdayite's shares in a possible takeover, the identity of consortium members and whether the funds of the group could be legally verified under UK money laundering laws, Wednesdayite issued several statements on their Website which have been picked up by the presscite web|title=Sheffield Wednesday Takeover Speculation|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/Sheffield_Wednesday_Supporters_Society_news-i63-2.html|accessdate=2008-07-21] . Wednesdayite's openness of dealing with the situation where possible (whilst all other parties, including Sheffield Wednesday remain silent on the subject) has seen support for the group grow.

Frustrations led to Sheffield Wednesday themselves appointing financial company Deloitte and Touche to vet potential bidders and facilitate any purchase of an undisclosed tranche of sharescite web|title=Wednesday seek buyer|url=http://www.football365.com/story/0,17033,8726_3531778,00.html|accessdate=2008-07-21] , speculated to be at least 10% of the clubs' shares belonging to board member Geoff Hulley and possibly including a further 10% belonging to former director Keith Addy. however, it is thought that Geoff Sheard's preference to not go through the clubs' preferred Deloitte and Touche route.# and he has approached former Chairman, Dave Allen, and Wednesdayite individually.

On 1st July 2008, Wednesdayite received a formal bid from Geoff Sheard, acting for a 'Swiss-based trust'cite web|title=Bid received for shareholding|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/Sheffield_Wednesday_Supporters_Society_news-i70-2.html|accessdate=2008-07-21] . Wednesdayite immediately referred the correspondence to legal advisors in preperation of a ballot of members on whether to accept the offer for the shareholding. To keep members and the fanbase aware of what was happening, Wednesdayite subsequently published a list of Questions and Answers regarding the bidcite web|title=Share offer Questions and Answers|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/news.php?extend.72|accessdate=2008-07-21] . It has also been announced that former Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dave Allen has agreed to sell his 10% stake in Sheffield Wednesday PLC to Sheards group.

Wednesdayite announced on 17 July 2008 that they will formally ballot members to decide the fate of the Sharescite web|title=Wednesdayite Announce Ballot|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/Sheffield_Wednesday_Supporters_Society_news-i74-2.html|accessdate=2008-07-21] . It was also revealed that the former Home Secretary and Wednesdayite Patron, David Blunkett, has been advising the group with regards to the ballotcite web|title=Sell your Owls shares? You decide|url=http://www.thestar.co.uk/sportheadlines/BREAKING-Sell-your-Owls-shares.4299789.jp?CommentPage=2&CommentPageLength=10|accessdate=2008-07-21] .

Notice of a Special General Meeting of Wednesdayite was given on 23rd July 2008 and ballot forms sent out to all eligible members. The Special General Meeting took place on 6th August 2008. Members were sent detailed supporting information alongside the ballot forms, and the Wednesdayite board recommended members vote 'Yes' to both resolutionscite web|title=Wednesdayite: Notice of Special General Meeting|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/Sheffield_Wednesday_Supporters_Society_news-i77-2.html|accessdate=2008-07-23] :


* Resolution 1: An amendment to Rule 2 iv which currently reads ‘to increase the shareholding in the club as is deemed appropriate and to help safeguard minority interests. The 5,037,017 ordinary shares in Sheffield Wednesday Plc should not be sold or otherwise transferred’. Following amendment it is proposed for Rule 2 iv to read ‘The Society members are free to determine whether the Society holds any shares in the club. Where the Society owns any shares in the club, any decision to relinquish any such holding must be made in General Meeting’.

* Resolution 2: To sell the Society’s holding of 5,037,017 shares in Sheffield Wednesday Plc to Geoff Sheard in accordance with the Society Board’s recommendation and the conditions included therein.

Resolution 1 was passed with a 97.4% majority in favour and Resolution 2 was similarly passed by a majority of 92.1% with a turnout of 77.7% of all members votingcite web|title=Wednesdayite: Wednesdayite ballot a landslide for Sheard|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/Sheffield_Wednesday_Supporters_Society_news-i78-2.html|accessdate=2008-07-23] . Wednesdayite have since contacted the bidder, Geoff Sheard, to ask if he would like to continue with the purchase in light of the result and await his response.

Current directors

Wednesdayite operate on a democratic basis with directors voted onto the society board at an AGM each year. Directors work on a voluntary basis and do not draw any salary from the organisation. Likewise, directors will not benefit from any proceeds of sales, including the shareholding.

Current directors are:cite web|title=Wednesdayite: About us - Directors|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?cat.60|accessdate=2008-03-09]

* Darryl Keys (Chairman)
* John Gath (Vice Chairman)
* Graeme Cook
* Paul Holmes
* James Hargreaves
* Diane Cockayne
* Jeff Williams
* Dave Barlow
* Mark Braithwaite
* Jessica Derrick
* Lee Keys

Patrons

Like lots of similar societies and organisations, Wednesdayite have patrons, who currently include:cite web|title=Wednesdayite: About us - Patrons|url=http://www.wednesdayite.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?cat.81|accessdate=2008-03-09]

* Rt. Hon. David Blunkett M.P.
* Paul Potts
* Jim Harrison

References

Further reading

*Sheffield Star (November 20, 2006) "Wednesdayites sing their tribute to two fans who died in car crash."
* Warnock, Neil. (March 3, 2007) " [http://sport.independent.co.uk/football/comment/article2323418.ece Michael Vaughan's the toast of our family - even if he is a Wednesdayite.] " Section: Football; Page 80.
* Yorkshire Post (September 28, 2007) " [http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/football/Wednesdayite-invited-to-Hillsborough-for.3241677.jp Wednesdayite invited to Hillsborough for Owls talks.] "

External links

* [http://www.wednesdayite.com Wednesdayite official website]


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