2004 - 2022 (and beyond) - The Non League Years (Parts 1 and 2)

Back in non league football for the first time in 75 years, it wasn't as easy to escape as envisaged. Off the pitch, things got interesting ...


Hopes were high of a swift to The Football League for the "Arsenal Of The North", a labelled director Terry Doyle coined in recognition of City's shirts and perceived status in The Conference.

City struggled, Chris Brass was relieved of his managerial duties in November 2004 but remained as a player under Viv Busby, who'd returned to the club a few weeks earlier to assist Brass. Billy McEwan was appointed manager in February 2005 and saw City narrowly avoid relegation in 2005.

With the club suffering losses during each of the first 2 seasons of Supporters' Trust ownership, the McGill family concluded a deal in June 2006 to assume 75% ownership of the club.

Mike Brown (TOOAB 8th September 2021) recalled, "During the two years that the Supporters' Trust owned the majority of the football club, there was indeed a net profit. In the 2003/4 season, there was a profit of £83,970 and in the 2004/5 season, there was a loss of £83,569. The football club board made the conscious decision to spend the surplus from 2003/4 during the 2004/5 season, leaving an overall net profit of £401. In the 2005/6 season, the club saw a 13% drop in turnover compared with the previous season and a 42% drop compared with the 2003/4 season. The resulting losses of £359,372 led to a cash flow problem during the season and JM Packaging offered a 'soft loan' to meet the shortfall. This loan was repayable upon the eventual sale of Bootham Crescent. Just a few months later, JM Packaging changed their position and requested immediate repayment or 75% of the shares in the football club. This ultimately led to the Barbican vote and completion of the takeover in 2007".

Those 3 seasons (2003-6) corresponded to the last in the Football League and the first two seasons in in the Conference. Central FL funding ended and parachute payments were reduced to nothing for the 2006/7 season. Having rescued the club, Richard Snowball (TOOAB 7th September 2021) noted the onset of fundraising fatigue, "The fans would have to pledge a guaranteed monthly amount (I tried this in 2005 before Jason took over and only 20 people set up a standing order)".

The emergence of the McGill family position move wasn't universally welcomed. David Allison (TOOAB 274, 2021) noted, "as my fellow former members of FoBC (Friends of Bootham Crescent) will attest, there was an uneasy shift that took place as Jason McGill took control of the club, something that we were very uncomfortable about at the time.

He goes on, others recall a 2006 agreement on the takeover, "However it wasn't long before Jason oversaw spending that went way above the £100k per annum agreed loss, and I seem to recall that was probably at that point that his relationship with the Trust began to deteriorate".

There is no doubt that The Supporters Trust played a very important role in saving the club, many people putting in many long and unpaid hours to see the club pull through, some making significant donations and gestures whilst the whole fan base worked as one. With the McGill family taking control, the role (and apparent need) for the Supporters Trust seemed diminished, to the detriment of the club.

Billy McEwan was gradually re-building the side and reached the play offs in 2007 losing to Morecambe in the semi finals. He couldn't re-create results a season later and was replaced by Colin Walker. Initially as caretaker manager, such were the results, he was promoted to permanent manager. City couldn't build on his early success and he was relieved of his duties within a year to be replaced by Martin Foyle.

City struggled under Foyle, his first full season saw City survive a relegation battle in 2009 and lose meekly to Stevenage in The FA Trophy. City were back at Wembley a year later, this time, losing to Oxford in the play off final after going 2 down in the first 15 minutes. Richard Brodie scored 37 goals during the 2009/10 season.

With Richard Brodie's move to Crawley for £275,000 in August 2010, Foyle suffered from a similar malaise, being unable to re-capture the previous season's form. He was replaced by Gary Mills in October 2010.

Slowly, Mills turned around City's fortunes, finishing the season in 8th place in 2011. For a second successive season, City went out of the FA Cup in Round 3 away to a Premier League side, on neither occasion were City disgraced.

With a host of new signings for the 2011/2 season, hopes were high. Probably not since 1954 have so many of City's summer signings clicked. It wasn't plain sailing, but the attacking threat of Walker, Chambers and Blair was apparent as was the defence, built around Chris Smith, McGurk and Parslow, flanked by Oyebanjo and Meredith. With Ingham in goal and Kerr shielding the back 4, City could be a formidable unit.

Confidence grew as the season progressed and results improved. Daniel Parslow later noted the team felt they could beat anyone and with fitness, a strong work ethic and team spirit, knew they could keep going and outplay anyone in the closing stages of a game. A trait that saw them overcome Luton in a tight 2 legged FA Trophy semi final and then Mansfield in the play semi final with an extra time goal to clinch a trip to Wembley. That would have to wait as City's first trip to Wembley was for The FA Trophy Final and a comfortable 2-0 win over Newport. It was back to Wembley a week later for the play off final. Despite conceding an early goal to Luton, City's confidence shone through as City controlled the rest of the game to win 2-1 and return to the Football League.

City's return was to last just 4 seasons.

Meanwhile, relationships between City and the Supporters Trust continued on their rocky path.

The long running saga of supporter representation on the board came to the fore in 2012 when the Trust sought to place 2 members on the club's board (see section below).

Starting the 2012/3 season with a largely unchanged squad, several players couldn't make the step up and City struggled. A raft of uninspiring signings didn't help, as didn't Mills' intransigence in his playing principles and formation. He was sacked in March 2013, the decision splitting opinions amongst City's fans.

Nigel Worthington's appointment was both rapid and surprising but he secured safety in 2013. After a slow start to the following season, the new year saw a long winning run, built on a measly defence with young loanee Nick Pope in goal. The winning run took City from 23rd place into the play offs where City lost to Fleetwood in the 2014 semi final.

That summer City went on an ambitious re-building process, a number of players were signed on 2 year contracts. Unfortunately, Worthington failed to get his ideas over to the players, he resigned in October 2014, frustrated that his players were not responding to him as he wished.

Next in was Russ Wilcox.

Wilcox complained about his new charges being unfit and of inheriting a squad that wasn't up to the job, something that was to become a common theme although possibly a lack of confidence and motivation, rather than fitness, was the underlying problem. However, he finished the 2014/5 season with City in 18th place.

Wilcox's side was dour, occasionally abject, but were just about holding their own when he was sacked. He lasted a few days over a year, Jackie McNamara being a surprise replacement. Despite a large number of loan signings, he was unable to keep City in The Football League in 2016.

McNamara's reign lasted just under a year and ended in rather bizarre circumstances, having tendered his resignation, he remained as caretaker manager for a further week. Gary Mills, after a spell at Gateshead, was sacked by Wrexham on the Thursday following McNamara's resignation and was appointed City's manager over the weekend.

Mills strove to improve City's fortunes and with City enjoying a good run, safety was almost assured with 3 games to play. Unfortunately, those 3 games yielded just 2 draws and City were relegated to National League North in the very last minute of the 2016/7 league season. A Wembley FA Trophy Final win over Macclesfield was scant consolation.

Having used a club record 42 players during the 2015/6 (Wilcox / McNamara) season, City used 48 players during the next season (McNamara / Mills). In the 2016 calendar year, City used 63 different players.

Still the sackings went on. Gary Mills was sacked in September 2017 and replaced by Martin Gray a day later.

Early 2018 saw a further delay in the planned move to Monks Cross. With a stand off between Jason McGill and the Supporters Trust, Jason McGill briefly threatened to withdraw funding and put the club up for sale. He later relented.

With City outside the Football League, youth team funding was lost in 2018. Immediately, Burnley took advantage of it and signed City's promising 16 year old Vinnie Steels on a free transfer. The reserve team had already been disbanded due to cut backs. It was a disappointing first season in NLN.

Gray was sacked in August 2018 and his successor, Sam Collins lasted only until January 2019 as the pace of sackings increased whilst City floundered mid table in National League North in 2019, struggling against sides who only a few years previously would have viewed a pre season friendly against City as a big occasion.

The era was marked by each new manager (Worthington, Wilcox, McNamara, Mills, Gray and Collins) being appointed within a few days of his successor losing his job, given the haste of the appointments, some questioned whether due diligence had always been followed. Equally, appointed early in the season, each new manager was dealt the players that the previous manager had wanted (some players with good contracts to the end of the following season), not necessarily players that the new manager would have signed. Consequently the bloated squad where some players were consigned to train with the youth squad, others knew they could expect little game time and all knew that if they didn't perform there were plenty of players in reserve ready to step up. For the players, having been sold the club and signed by one manager, they had to prove themselves again to a new manager, some squads having players signed by 4 different managers.

Within 10 days of Collins departure, Steve Watson was recruited from Gateshead. Over the rest of the season, a gradual improvement was discernible and Watson put in place more structure and organisation around the club. Hopes of a push for the play offs remained tantalisingly just out of reach, whilst the move to the new Monks Cross stadium was once more delayed into the 2019/20 season. Watson lasted nearly 3 coronavirus ravaged seasons before being sacked.

The farewell to Bootham Crescent and move to Monks Cross became protracted and fans were unable to watch City in their new home until July 2021. The 2021/2 season started slowly but ended in a glorious play off final victory and promotion back to the National League for John Askey's side.

City's Worst Ever Season

The honour of the “worst ever City season” will have many candidates. Unfortunately, most fall into this timeframe.

The Football League years and the re-election safety net will have helped many of those earlier seasons avoid consideration.

However, older readers might consider 1967-9 and 3 successive re-election campaigns, the 1976-7 season as we slipped straight through Division 3, 1987/8 under Booby Saxton and the 2003/4 season with relegation from The Football League all spring to mind.

It got worse, a turgid first non league season when the “Arsenal of the Conference” narrowly avoided back to back relegations and a similarly poor 2008/9 season, when 11 points in our last 5 games saved up, all spring to mind. In 2009, late slumps for Lewes and Weymouth coupled with the goals of Richard Brodie saved us. Even the consolation of an FA Trophy Final at Wembley failed to lift the gloom in what many considered to be City’s worse ever season at the time. Given the perilous state of the club at the time (losing money and no ground secured), relegation might have signalled the end of a full time professional club.

Come 2016 and our 4 year return to the Football League ended under Jackie McNamara and an early City attempt at moneyball football with kids ended in inglorious failure and relegation.

It got worse a year later, the 2016/7 season as City lost their national Conference and returned to regional non-league football for the first time since 1929. Come the final day of the season, City knew they had to better Guiseley’s result to avoid relegation. Twice, behind, we fought back to 2-2 against already qualified for the play offs Forest Green as injury time approached. Knowing Guiseley were losing at home, we appeared safe until a late Guiseley equaliser, an own goal by Solihull Moors, saw them scramble to safety and condemn City to relegation. Supporters numbed by the results, shuffled out of the ground in an eerie silence. That must be City’s worse ever season, the return to regional non league football after 88 years.

York City Supporters Trust

The York City Supporters Trust was originally formed in 2002 and saved the club in March 2003. A Trust newsletter, dated June 2004, noted regarding the club board purchasing Bootham Crescent stated that Jason McGill (at that time) owned 15% of the club and held "B" shares (whose rights were restricted in certain respects). However, it does go on to say that in return the club will hold a majority stake in BCH. Therefore ownership of BC will be under the control of the Trust and Football Club. When BC is sold, the monies that are realised (over and above any amounts owed) will be used for the benefit of York City. It is understood that Jason McGill's "B"shares were granted in return for his £50,000 donation in the fundraising campaign to save the club. In 2006, YCST voted to hand control of the club to Jason McGill. Technically, the transfer was of 60% of the shares, along with an agreement to convert the original 15% of "B" shares to "A" shares, meaning the 85 / 15 split became 25 / 75.

One constant during the era has been the York City Supporters Trust. Formed when the club's future was in grave doubt, the Trust played a very important role in galvanising supporters and fundraising to ensure that York City was saved and had a future. Unfortunately, during the McGill years, their role has been marginalised. Equally, with the club saved, the voice of the Trust remained silent for many years and membership numbers dropped greatly.

A regular bone of contention has been a lack of supporter representation on the club's board of directors.

It is thought that there was at least one aborted attempt to gain supporter representation on the board under the McGill family before 2012.

Much of the following is based on Mike Brown’s Facebook (and other social media) postings in late October 2021 following the appearance of Steve Kilmartin and Dave Penney on a Radio York phone in on 22nd October 2021.

Writing on Facebook in October 2021, YCST chairman Mike Brown noted, regarding the Trust Directors, the club's Articles of Association state: "6.4 The Trust shall be entitled by notice in writing to the Company to appoint two directors ("Trust Directors") in any board made up of six or less directors and in any board greater than six to appoint any number of directors pro-rata to the size of the Company's board such that the Trust Directors represent at least one third of the board and by like notice to remove any of such directors and at any time and from time to time by like notice to appoint any other person to be a director in place of director so removed. The appointment of any such Trust Direct shall be subject to ratification by the directors, who shall not unreasonably refuse to ratify such appointment." It is the Trust’s view that ratification can only be reasonably refused on the basis that the individual is not eligible to be a company director, which is limited to age, bankruptcy or having been barred from being a director. Only the Trust board has the mandate to decide who it considers suitable for the role. It has nothing to do with the majority shareholder or the club board". What might be disputed is the view that ratification can only be reasonably refused on the basis that the "individual is not eligible", personally, I would contest that is not unreasonable to expect any board member to bring a certain skill set into the board room to complement existing skills. Mike Brown’s professional career might suggest he would complement the board’s skill set, especially in the post Sophie McGill era.

The long running saga of supporter representation on the board came to the fore in 2012. Mike Brown recalls (in response to YCFC on Radio York (22/Oct/2021), "In 2012, myself (Mike Brown) and Matt English were nominated to the club board by the Supporters’ Trust. The response from the club board was that they wanted to conduct a recruitment process, including an interview and a review of each nominees’ skills. The Trust pushed back on this and said that there was no requirement for Trust directors to be interviewed, nor that they were required to have the skills to fulfil a specific executive role. However, we did agree to have a meeting with club directors. Upon attending the meeting at JM Packaging’s office, we were told that we would only be seen separately. The two club directors at the meeting were Ian McAndrew and Rob McGill. During my meeting, I said that in addition to general director duties I was willing to provide professional marketing support for 20 - 25 hours per week, alongside my senior marketing role at Visit York. Rob McGill’s response was that ‘We’ve tried marketing and it doesn’t work’. Matt English told them that as he worked away for the MoD much of the time he couldn’t commit much time, but would be able to attend board meetings. Subsequently, the club issued a statement rejecting my (Mike Brown) appointment on the grounds that I was unwilling to make the time commitment they were looking for. On the other hand, they were willing to approve Matt’s appointment. They simply ‘flipped’ the candidates to meet their own agenda. It was quite evident that Trust directors were simply not welcome. We made it clear at the time that we considered their actions unconstitutional. They'd actually mixed the two individuals up. The Trust took the view that only appointing one individual would leave them exposed and isolated in the board room. When Steve Beck had been the sole Trust director, he had faced what can only be described as sustained abuse and bullying at the hands of other directors. We were not prepared to allow Matt English or anyone else to work in a similarly toxic environment. When the Trust has raised the issue with Jason McGill in more recent years, he replied that ‘he just didn’t want two sleeping policemen watching over his shoulder’. The whole thing was a whitewash”. Right now (October 2021) we’re not prepared to put anyone forward until the club board meet their various legal obligations. There has been a history of bullying Trust directors and we wouldn’t wish for them to be deemed complicit in the majority boards' actions (Josh Easby said similar when he stepped down from the board in 2002 - Ed). It’s important to remember that seats on the board is just one of many protections and rights we have. We have been working with world class solicitors for two years to ensure compliance in the best interests of the football club. We could put two representatives on the board but they would be sitting ducks and it’s not a necessary part of our current strategy. Company directors are bound by the Articles of Association and cannot choose to ignore them because they were drawn up in the past. They are their rule book and we call on all directors to uphold their legal responsibilities. The football club board nor the majority shareholder have a right to veto the appointment of Trust directors. They are required to ratify the appointments, but may not unreasonably withhold ratification” (quite true, if only “unreasonable” was fully defined - Ed).

In October 2021, Mike Brown noted, In October 2018, following the appointment of three new directors, the Trust’s solicitors DLA Piper wrote to all five club directors to remind them of their various legal responsibilities. It seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The reply we received provided no acknowledgement that they would fulfil their duties and merely sought to discredit the Trust with various baseless claims. We considered it deeply offensive to the Trust board and our members.

In October 2021, Mike Brown noted, "The Trust’s current view is that we will only appoint two directors when the rest of the board begin to comply with their fiduciary, constitutional, legal and contractual obligations. Under the principles of collective responsibility, there is a real risk that Trust directors could be deemed as being complicit in the actions of the whole board. As Trust chairman, I am not willing to ask anyone to take on that risk of personal liability. It is also difficult for us to work with a board that has just been subject to a 91% vote of no confidence from our members, particularly as 2/7 (or 3/7 as per the constitution) votes are unlikely to change very much. Further, we cannot work with directors who suggest that the Articles of Association don’t apply to them simply because they were written 14 years ago. Under the Companies Act 2006, the first general duty of directors is to a) act in accordance with the company’s constitution, and b) only exercise powers for the purposes for which they are conferred. Beyond the seats on the board, the various legal agreements and the company’s constitution include several other protections for the football club, fans and Trust. The Trust has been working hard with their legal team to ensure that these commitments are being honoured in the best interests of the club’s future. This has included a due diligence process on the lease at the new stadium, the forthcoming sale of Bootham Crescent and the subsequent disbursement of the proceeds. This legal work is ongoing and the Trust will do everything in our power to ensure that the promises made to fans and subsequently enshrined in legal agreements are complied with. That’s our job and what our members would expect of us".

Also, in October 2021, Mike Brown further noted: This is the list of special rights, promises and protections given to Trust members in advance of the SGM to transfer ownership to JMP in 2006. The only caveat is that in the final legal contracts (signed in 2007) there was far more detail, but the essence, spirit and material nature of it is the same.

  • i) The Trust will have the right to appoint up to 2 people as Club Directors (as part of a Board of up to 6). If the number of Club Directors is greater than 6, then the number of Directors that can be appointed by the Trust will increase pro-rata;
  • ii) Trust authority required for the Club, or any subsidiary company, to give any guarantee, indemnity or security in respect of the obligation of another person or directly or indirectly make loans to any party.
  • iii) Trust authority required for the Club, or any subsidiary company, to pay or make any dividend or other distribution;
  • iv) Trust authority required before any additional borrowings exceeding £100,000, except in the case of replacement of existing facilities;
  • v) Trust authority required for the issue of new shares in the Club, or any subsidiary company, of any class or grants of any rights over shares;
  • vi) The Trust to have the right to restrict the transfer of ownership of the shares in the Club to certain named individuals, being Messrs Craig, Batchelor, Webb and Swallow (and any interests or family members of these persons or any person/entity connected to these persons);
  • vii) In the future, if JMP decides to seek to transfer the ownership of some or all of its shareholding to another party (other than a family member) then the Trust to have the first option to acquire those shares. The consideration to be paid by the Trust to JMP to be agreed, but to be no greater than an amount equivalent to par value per share;
  • viii) Trust authority required for the sale or lease of Bootham Crescent and/or the Training Ground (“the Properties”), or for any change of use of the Properties; the submission of any planning application, or amendment to an existing planning application, in respect of the Properties;
  • ix) Trust authority required for the Club to enter into any form of commitment or agreement to use or develop a site other than Bootham Crescent as the site for the home football matches of the Club;
  • x) Trust authority required for the creation of any additional mortgage, charge or any encumbrance or security of interest of any substantial assets of the Club or any subsidiary undertaking;
  • xi) Trust authority required for the sale of any shares in any subsidiary company or the sale of any substantial part of any of their business;
  • xii) Subject to approval of the football authorities, in the event that the Club is wound up, the Trust to be the named recipient of any funds arising from surplus assets (i.e. any residual value from the sale of the Club’s/Group’s assets including Bootham Crescent, after settlement of creditors and shareholders, should be paid to the Trust), or the existing requirements in the Memorandum and Articles of Association will have to be retained, such that any residual value does not go to the shareholders, but is instead given to the FA Benevolent Fund or some local football or charitable organisation (i.e. the surplus does not go to the shareholders).

YCST chairman, Mike Brown was appointed to City's board of directors in September 2022, at the time, he announced that he was there to do a specific role where directorship would help and that he intended to stand down in May 2023, both from the director and as YCST chair. On May 30, 2023, he confirmed that he was standing down as YCST chair and would continue as a YCFC board member until the ownership issues were resolved. Seth Sowerby was appointed acting YCST chair pending the next AGM. Read More.

In February 2023, Mike Brown said that the Supporters' Trust has contributed more net funds than any individual or organisation in the club's history. After indexing, this stands at over £1.4m since 2003 including £225,000 this season (2022/3, given he said this on February 27, presumably, further funds were contributed later to pay the March wage bill). The overall figure includes £600k that was donated to the Trust by supporters, however, only around £150k of that was raised in bucket collections.

Henderson In

Finally, on July 5th 2022, the Trust concluded a deal to secure 100% of the shares from JMP, effectively buying back the 75% of shares they'd originally sold in 2006 at a price of £350,000. There was a right for the Trust board to execute an option to buy back the shares for the sum of £350,000 enshrined in the 2006 sale deal. By the end of the day, the Trust had transferred 51% of the shares (a majority holding) to investor Glen Henderson. A few days later, Mike Brown confirmed that the Trust sold the shares to Henderson "at a considerable premium". The Jason McGill led board stepped down.

When City's 2022 accounts were released in June 2023, they noted Jason McGill was entitled to up to £650,000 in respect of on pitch performances, gates and transfer fees. Some might say the sale allowed Glen Henderson to become the majority shareholder for a below market price whilst Jason McGill was liable to be paid a considerable amount.

It is further understood that Glen Henderson has a call option to acquire some further YCST shares, but this does not come into effect until 5th July 2024. If certain conditions are met, this would reduce the YCST holding to 25%.

City noted, "Following the transfer of Shares held in York City Football Club by JM Packaging Limited the Board of Directors leave the Club having established their long-term objective of necessary stability which provides the Manager and Players with an enviable modern Stadium secured on a 99-year lease and with Net Assets of £4.2 million at 30 June 2021. The Directors also ensured advance rent for the Stadium of £1.65 million was paid to City of York Council thereby providing playing security for a 10-year period and during the first full-season within the new facility promotion to The National League was achieved. Our enhanced training facilities are the envy of many similar Football Clubs and Jason McGill would like to thank all staff at York City Football Club, York Stadium Management Company and the Foundation for their fantastic efforts and support over the years. In addition Jason McGill wishes to acknowledge with grateful thanks the very significant time and endeavour together with stoicism given by the Board of Directors who are, in no particular order, Steven Kilmartin, Ian McAndrew, Dave Penney and Richard Adams". Read More.

The Trust responded, "The Supporters’ Trust are pleased to confirm that today it has completed the purchase of 100% of JM Packaging’s shares in York City Football Club Ltd. In 2006, Trust members approved the transfer of 75% of the shares in the football club to JMP. Part of that takeover gave the Trust the right to purchase the shares back from JMP should they ever choose to sell them. In March 2022, the Trust reached further agreements with JMP and the football club to facilitate the transition to new ownership within a three month period. Today, those arrangements have concluded with the transfer of JMP’s shares to the Trust. The Trust would like to thank the enduring efforts of the York City board of directors, JMP and particularly Jason McGill. We recognise the huge time commitment and financial contributions they have made to help transition the club to the LNER stadium and provide a springboard to take the club forward for the next 100 years. Following meetings today with John Askey, Kingsley James and staff, the club will make further announcements about our exciting plans for the future". Read More.

Later in the day, the Trust sold 51% of the shares to Glen Henderson, Trust chairman Mike Brown said, "We look forward to working with Glen and everyone associated with the club to bring about a new chapter. As guardians of the football club since 2002, the Trust board are proud to have secured a change in ownership and investment that provides the club with a fantastic opportunity to grow and flourish. It's been a tough journey at times, but we have been resolute in our objective of delivering a new fan focused ethos at the club. As we've developed our partnership with Glen it's been increasingly clear that he has all the right skills, business experience, football knowledge, resources, personality, and energy to help us take the club forward. We look forward to working with him and everyone associated with the club to bring about a new, refreshing chapter in the club’s history”. Henderson will take a place on the newly formed board of directors later this week alongside Trust board member Alastair Smith, who will take over as chief executive. Glen first approached the Trust in June 2018 with a view to investing in the club under a new ‘football and fan-centric’ model. Brown went on," During that time, we have established a strong working relationship, business plan and exciting vision for the future. Working together, we will put the fans at the heart of everything we do and work to establish a new footballing model that runs through every level of York City FC.

Speaking about the acquisition of 51% of York City, Glen said: “Football has been my foundation throughout my life and in recent years I’ve developed a deep affection for York City. The philosophy of every business I’ve owned is to place people at the heart of everything and in my eyes the fans and the city are the club. Four years ago, I started on this journey with the Trust waiting for the right time and opportunity to present itself and that time is now. Throughout that time, I have watched my son play in the York City youth team and sit on the bench for the first team numerous times. I have seen ups and downs, managers change and have identified a wealth of opportunities for improvement across every department of the club. I am thrilled to be working with the Trust to build a sustainable future for the club, all the while aiming to get York City back into the Football League”. Henderson and Alastair Smith, the new CEO, were the new club board.

Brown added, "The Supporters’ Trust board and a number of volunteers will assist them in reshaping various aspects of how the football club and Stadium Management Company operate. In due course, additional directors will be recruited to help drive the club forwards. We are extremely optimistic about the future prospects for the football club and look forward to working closely with supporters, colleagues, local organisations, businesses, and partners to drive positive change and success on and off the pitch. We can’t change everything overnight but are set to carry out a roots and branches review of every aspect of the business over the next 12 months. The coming year is crucial to keeping the momentum going on the back of the phenomenal success in last season’s play-offs. We call on every York City fan to get to games, create an electric atmosphere and help the squad to grow a winning belief and confidence".

After a challenging 6 week period of intensive negotiations, on 31st March 2022 the Trust entered into two separate agreements with the football club, JMP and Jason McGill. The first agreement set out the terms on which the proceeds from the sale of Bootham Crescent would be distributed and provided for a mechanism for transitioning to new ownership. The second agreement ensured that the football club had sufficient funding to continue trading until the end of the 2021/22 season. Part of the settlement of historic debts to JMP included a suspension of the Trust's rights to buy the shares for a 3 month period. This gave JMP the opportunity to agree the sale of the club with 3rd parties on their own terms before June 30th. These arrangements included various requirements about any individual they intended to sell the club to. Any sale would also require ratification by the Trust. At 9.14am on July 1st 2022, The Trust received confirmation that JMP had not agreed terms with any buyers. This historic moment freed the way for the Trust to acquire the shares for the price set in 2006 of £350,000. The necessary paperwork was completed and signed on July 4th 2022, followed by transfer of the shares on July 5th.

Subsequently, various reports emerged which implied that due diligence hadn't been as stringent as might have been expected, with various anomalies being unearthed, including as Mike Brown(TOOAB #313, 2022) noted, "we have found that there were a lack of appropriate credit control procedures in place meaning that the football club risked losing income to bad debt. The new board have implemented appropriate credit control procedures and successfully chased up various outstanding payments. Implementing proper governance and financial controls is a crucial ingredient to ensuring the sustainability of the football club going forward and I'm extremely grateful to our Chief Executive Alastair Smith who has been working full-time to introduce robust systems to improve internal accountability and cost efficiency across the business" and well as details of the LNER rent payable. Jason McGill responded "he is "taken aback" by comments from York City chairman Glen Henderson that the former owner removed "quite a lot of money" from the club before his July sale. In a question and answer session with BBC Radio York, Henderson was critical of the club's past ownership, which changed hands from majority shareholder McGill (75 per cent stake) to Henderson (51 per cent) and the Supporters' Trust (49 per cent) four months ago. Henderson claimed that McGill "removed quite a lot of money," from season-ticket and shirt sales, meaning that the new regime "started with a deficit straight away." The South African raised businessman went on to state that this season's budget, set by McGill, had been based on the club's past season in the Vanarama National League 10 years ago and that, as a result, himself and the Trust had invested hundreds of thousands of pounds "to steady the ship and get the income and expenses back on track". Henderson also dismissed a claim by the departing former ownership that 10 years' worth of facility enhancement fee had been paid, saying that, having studied the books, "no money has changed hands." McGill, who had been at the helm at City for 16 years, has said he is "taken aback" by these claims and defended his sale of the club as proper. In a statement, McGill said: “I was asked by David Ward from BBC Radio York if I wished to respond to remarks made by Glen Henderson during his interview on Radio York on November 1. "Having listened to the interview with Mr Henderson on Radio York, I was taken aback by his comments regarding the financial position of the club following the transfer of ownership in July 2022. All monies withdrawn were owed to J M Packaging Ltd and therefore properly returned to the company. All contracts relating to the club could have been examined and any questions forthcoming could have been explained by the outgoing directors through a due diligence process. I have gone on record to say that I felt my fellow directors and I left the club in a healthy position and that I would have funded the club for this season to ensure an organised transfer of ownership. I received a message of thanks from the chairman of the Supporters' Trust for my time at the club and for the way I acted during the share transfer. I wish to extend my very best wishes to John Askey, Kingsley James and the team and to go on record to say what an excellent job John has done at York City Football Club since his appointment in November 2021." Earlier in the Q&A session with Radio York, Henderson lamented the financial running of the club under McGill. He also moved to explain the new ownership's position when taking over City. Henderson said: "What you have to remember is that when we bought the club, it was a very short straight forward takeover and there wasn't much we could see. We took budgets that we thought were budgets and took a big leap of faith in doing this. These past couple of months have been a little insane but we're getting to the crux of the problem. We know that a lot of things are not what they say they were. I came into this thinking it would be run well and be well-budgeted. But it turns out, we've had to start from scratch. We're looking at where the expenses are and how we can increase the income. Our commercial team, the store, myself and Alastair (Smith, chief executive) are working day in and day out. We're creating new relationships but we're also rebuilding old ones."

At the time of his purchase, Glen Henderson noted, "that York City has been run without a manager on the business side of the club for the past 15 years".

The transfer was finalised when Companies House formally announced that Jason McGill had resigned as a director (August 30th), it followed an earlier (August 3rd) announcement concerning the other directors.

Speaking on Radio York (31st March 2023), it was noted that Glen Henderson has call option on 24% of the shares for 2 years (there was no indication of when it started, but might be reasonable to assume from when he acquired his 51% holding in July 2022).

Glen Henderson Profile: Glen was born in Hartlepool and raised in South Africa where he played football at national level throughout his youth career and represented the U19 national team. He played semi-professionally for Benoni Northerns and Boksburg FC, before getting a 4-year scholarship in Atlanta, USA. In addition to his football experience, he holds an International Marketing Management Degree and BA in Business Administration. Glen is married to Dr Janee Henderson who is a Chiropractor and has three children. They are a massive sporting family, with Ethan (20) playing football in the USA, Peyton (16) playing for Everton Ladies FC and Claira who aspires to be a professional tennis player. Glen has an impressive business background, having co-founded Amazing Athletes Inc, a children’s multi-sport programme with franchises across the USA, which he sold to Youth Athletes Ltd in 2018. He has also owned and operated two restaurants and a taproom bar in the USA, which sold in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Alastair Smith Profile: Hailing from Millington, near Pocklington, Alastair is a life-long supporter, he was Chairman of Pocklington Supporters Club before moving south and being one of the founders and current chairman of York City South. He is a recent addition to the Supporters’ Trust board and will be well known to many York City fans. Alastair recently took early retirement following a 28-year senior career at Kimberly-Clark, where he held various Finance roles based in the UK before becoming the Financial Controller for North America. He is a CIMA qualified accountant. Alastair is married to Wendy, and they have two boys, Matt (31) and Brad (27). Both boys are City fans and attend matches regularly. Combining his previous roles in a multi-billion dollar turnover multi-national FMCG company and his dedicated passion for York City, Alastair brings a wealth of business experience, knowledge and expertise that will help to drive positive change at the football club.

Ethan Henderson City Career: 2018/9: Top scorer for the youth side (22 goals, including 3 hat tricks); 2019/20: 4 goals, but didn't play until January. First Team: Unused sub v Hereford (L 1-4) - March 3, 2020. Ethan In Action.

A day later, Our Vision, Mission & Values pledging "Our primary goal is to build a vibrant, successful, and sustainable professional football club that serves our fans and the local community. Our vision is to deliver a permanent return to the English Football League".

The Glen Henderson deal infers exactly the same rights for YCST as did the Jason McGill deal, that of minority ownership and at the mercy of the majority shareholder. Once again, YCST have re-iterated the stance that their role is not to provide funding equivalent to their shareholding, it should be noted that no shareholder has that responsibility. It is the role of the directors to ensure financial stability. It is to be hoped that YCST's partnership with Glen Henderson is more fruitful than that with Jason McGill.

Subsequently (November 2, 2022), Mike Brown said "In response to Matthew Moran's comments (TOOAB Issue 308), it's important to stress that both the Supporters' Trust and Glen Henderson have made substantial cash donations to the football club since the takeover. However, there was always an understanding that as far as possible those contributions would be equitable. It's also recognised that the Trust has limited resources and may not always be able to match Glen's contribution. The Boost the Budget programme is simply a way for the Trust and supporters to increase our contribution, which we strongly believe is the right thing to do. Making a significant contribution gives us both purpose and a stronger voice within the football club. This is something many fans have been yearning for over the past decade and the scheme has been part of our planning since before the takeover in July. I would like to personally thank everyone who's donated in the first few hours. The strength of support is overwhelming and York City fans never cease to amaze and impress me".

Henderson Out / Uggla In

The early days of the Henderson regime were busy, trying to uncover the full details of what they had inherited. It appeared many contracts were heavily weighted against City and Alastair Smith noted it had been a "frustrating" first few months. Glen Henderson was a popular and often seen figure around the ground and at games. Publicity pics were well to the fore.

Supporter frustration started to be aired when John Askey said he was seeking a new striker but funds were not available.

In an explosive interview with Radio York (David Ward, November 1 (Radio York interview (link may break))), Glen Henderson revealed that there was a distance between himself and John Askey, Henderson gave no commitment that Askey would be in post in the long term (even by Christmas). Immediately seen as a car crash of an interview, there was an intense social media storm with Henderson’s popularity plunging in the aftermath. Shortly afterwards, Glen Henderson effectively blamed David Ward for the fall out. The interview also highlighted some shortfalls in the numbers that the new regime believed that had inherited from Jason McGill.

On November 16, John Askey was sacked, the honeymoon was officially over. From being a popular, high profile figure, Glen Henderson stepped back, some enforced (his membership of a Facebook group was unilaterally withdrawn) and his presence at games became more guarded and he missed a couple through illness.

One early casualty of the fallout was the "Boost The Budget" initiative launched in later October which sought to raise £100,000 in 12 months to add to the playing budget. It was ceased having raised around £30,000 in only a few weeks.

On December 13, in a YCST press release Glen Henderson offered to sell his shares to YCST. Henderson had written to the Trust saying he is willing to trigger a buy back clause allowing the fans group to buy him out because it would be "in the best interests of the football club". Under the clause, it can buy Henderson's 51 per cent shareholding at a price set by an independent valuation, although the businessman said he would consider any offer which matches the investment he made to buy the club in July. The YCST statement appeals for new investors to come forward which might suggest when Henderson was approached, there were no other viable candidates. YCST launch a new appeal for funds to buy the shares.

A protracted period of negotiations began.

On December 22, in a more measured Radio York interview (link may break) (Sharon Shortle), Henderson said he did not wish to sell his shares. He further said that he felt that the Trust / YCFC relationship had become blurred, operationally not always seeing eye to eye. Going forward, he wanted the 3 man YCFC board to work at a more strategic level, to sit above the club and guide the people at the club. He also said that he’d funded the business 2 days previously with a large sum of money (something that had previously been spoken about). YCST responded saying he'd effectively started the process, saying "Over the past 48 hours, the Supporters’ Trust has received a number of emails from Glen Henderson indicating that he has changed his mind on his offer to sell his shares in the football club to the Trust. Glen offered his shares to the Supporters’ Trust in communications with three Trust directors on five separate occasions, including verbally on 29th November and 2nd December and by email on 10th December and 11th December. To quote the relevant emails, Glen said: “My offer is on the table. The amount of money I put in is the amount I want out so let the trust know. I feel this would be in the best interest of the club". On considering this formal request from Glen, the Trust board voted unanimously that it was in the best interests of the club to part company with Glen and seek fresh investment. This was detailed in our public statement of 13th December 2022. Glen was provided with a copy of this statement in advance of its release and no comment was received from him in relation to it. Under our legally binding Shareholders’ Agreement, the Trust have a 28-day period in which to consider the offer of the sale of his shares. As the first written notice was received from Glen on 10th December 2022, the deadline for our response is 7th January 2023. The Trust has indicated to Glen that we will reply to his offer in advance of this deadline. Should the Trust board decide to accept the offer, it has a further two calendar months in which to complete the share purchase. There is no provision for Glen to withdraw his offer during the 28-day period. After careful consideration of his performance and behaviour over recent months, Glen Henderson has lost the confidence of the Trust board and we believe that his latest u-turn only goes to undermine his position even further. The Trust will vigorously defend our legal rights and uphold our constitutional and moral obligations on behalf of our members and all York City fans. We are pleased to report that the Trust has already received a number of credible expressions of interests from prospective investors. We are now in the initial stages of a 7-stage scrutiny and due diligence process that will ultimately lead to a vote of our members at a Special General Meeting. We are due to issue further details of the process shortly after Christmas. We thank all prospective investors who have been in touch and can reassure them that the process will continue unabated". PLUS: Read Glen Henderson's Yorkpress interview (22/Dec/22).

On January 5, 2023, the Trust announced that they'd accepted Henderson's offer to buy his shares and had 90 calendar days to conclude the deal. Their statement read "This process has been carried out in accordance with the football club’s Articles of Association and gives the Trust a period of 90 calendar days in which to pay the consideration for the shares. As such, the deadline for completion of the transaction is 4th April 2023. We are pleased to report that the Trust has received approaches from six interested parties, and we are currently working with each of them to complete a robust process that will ultimately lead to a vote of our members at an SGM. We will issue a further statement next week to outline the process and associated timeline".

On January 18, the Trust indicated that all 6 bids had proceeded to Stage 3 and further outlined the bidding process in its scrutiny committee update. It noted, "Glen is unable to sell his 51% of the football club for less than he offered them to the Supporters Trust, £650,000, though the Trust may waive this if they believe it’s in the best interests of the club. The Trust has also made Glen aware that should it assist with the sale of his shares the Trust Board will consider selling a portion of its shares to a new majority shareholder."

Within days, the atmosphere had been toxic when on January 21, Ian Savage indicated Ethan Henderson had "signed a pro contract with us", David Ward appears to confirm before suggesting his confirmation was premature. Glen Henderson weighed in saying "David Ward makes a statement that he can confirm and then retracts it to cause chaos". Being a lifelong supporter, I'm sure that's the last thing Ward wanted to do. Several hours later, Glen Henderson posted, "To squash all rumours Ethan Henderson is currently on an amateur dual signed contract, with York City FC and Northallerton Town FC. He has also, had one training session with Marske United but nothing has been decided as of yet". Read More. A week later (January 28), during City's 2-1 home defeat to Maidenhead, some fans reported Glen Henderson giving V signs to fellow supporters in the East Stand. That evening YCST issue a tweet stating, "The Trust is extremely disappointed to hear reports and receive an official complaint about the Chairman’s behaviour at today’s match. We do not condone any form of abuse at our football club. The matter will be addressed via the appropriate channels". That weekend it was reported that Commercial Manager, Liam McGuinness had abruptly left the club and that his twitter account had been deleted. On February 1st, City issued a statement stating that Glen Henderson will stay away from upcoming games and reminding supporters of the standard of behaviour expected in all parts of the ground. Read More

On February 15, both Glen Henderson and YCST gave updates on the process. Henderson confirmed his decision to sell and that he was working with The Trust to conclude a deal whilst committing to provide resources to ensure club stability. The Trust noted ongoing talks with interested parties. It was in February 2023 that the Uggla family made their first contact with City.

On February 23, the YCST confirmed they had been working hard to secure sufficient finance to immediately buy Glen Henderson’s shares and provide the necessary funding to the club for the remainder of the season. This would have allowed the Trust to take full control of York City Football Club whilst the longer process of selecting a majority shareholder is completed. Whilst the Trust had secured an agreement for the finance, unfortunately this fell through at the last minute for logistical reasons. Read More - 230223

On March 3, the YCST issued a Scrutiny Committee update stating "This week the Supporters’ Trust Board has passed all three bids (no word of previously announced 6 - Ed) received for a majority shareholding in York City Football Club to its Scrutiny Committee for consideration. The Scrutiny Committee are assessing the bids against eight criteria:

  • Proposed New Ownership and Leadership structure for York City FC
  • Motivation and Ambition
  • Financing
  • Football operations
  • Other Operations
  • Fan Engagement
  • Community
  • Role of YCST.
Following an initial screening process two of the three potential investors have been invited to an interview with the Scrutiny Committee to consider their bids further. In advance of these interviews, they have also been asked to provide a summary of their proposals against each of the eight criteria listed . We expect the interview process to be completed by 6 March 2023. " Read More - 230303

Speaking on Radio York (31st March 2023), Jim Calverley noted that last month (presumably) February, the Trust got a loan from a fan to pay the wage bill.

March 17, 2023 : One bidder remains. Read More - 230317

Speaking on Radio York (31st March 2023), Alastair Smith and Jim Calverley noted that initially there were 6 interested parties. One came back with nothing whilst 2 both expressed an interest in acquiring 90% of the shares. The other 3 parties eventually formed a consortium which collapsed when one of the parties withdrew. 2 of the bids got as far as YCST signing contracts but the other party never did. By March 26, all the bids appeared to have collapsed. The March wage bill was fulfilled thanks to support from YCST. One bidder, a lifelong fan, noted Mike Brown and Alastair Smith have been totally professional in all dealings (since their first meeting in December 2022), it had cost 10s of thousands of pound to put bid together. For reasons outside Trust control, he did not move forward with his bid. YCST felt it was a credible bid, the bidder believed it would cost £1.5m - £2m over 3 - 4 years, including £1m now) to get City back into the Football League. YCST don’ know why he didn't see it through. No party had requested to purchase 100% of the shares.

March 31, 2023 : Trust pays payroll for a 2nd time. The Supporters’ Trust have today met a substantial £50,000 payroll shortfall to ensure that York City staff and players get paid in full this month. Aware that the club had no funds available yesterday morning, Trust appointed club directors Alastair Smith and Mike Brown made arrangements to expedite several payments due to the club. The Trust then topped up the balance to meet the shortfall. In the past two months, the Trust have now made a total contribution to the club’s payroll of £145,000. Meanwhile, The Trust statement reported they were disappointed to hear that Glen Henderson was unwilling to provide any funds to pay staff and had openly told club colleagues this was the case yesterday. This understandably caused significant upset and worry for the football club’s valued employees. Like all of us, the club’s hard-working staff and players have mortgages, rent, bills to pay and families to feed. They deserve to be paid in full and on time. In addition, the statement noted the Trust were astonished to find that Glen Henderson had offered inappropriate side deals to prospective buyers, only to withdraw them because he did not have sufficient shareholding with which to honour them. Along with other factors, this cast a seed of doubt for one of the parties that resulted in their withdrawal from the process. The Trust are taking legal advice with respect to this unwelcome intervention in a constituted process and associated breaches of confidence. Whilst the Trust will continue to seek solutions for the acquisition of Glen Henderson’s shares before the 4th April deadline, sadly this is now looking increasingly unlikely. We are extremely disappointed that after working around the clock for the past three months, the Trust have twice agreed legal contracts with parties only for them to subsequently withdraw at the 11th hour for various reasons. At the same time, the Trust launched an appeal to replenish cash reserves cash reserves to ensure that they are in a position to provide further emergency funding to the football club in the future. If you are able to make a one-off or regular donation. For example, the Trust were astonished to find that Glen Henderson had offered inappropriate side deals to prospective buyers, only to withdraw them because he did not have sufficient shareholding with which to honour them. Along with other factors, this cast a seed of doubt for one of the parties that resulted in their withdrawal from the process. The Trust are taking legal advice with respect to this unwelcome intervention in a constituted process and associated breaches of confidence. Read More. A couple of days later, Glen Henderson released a statement in response stating “ Please be assured that I fully intend to financially support the football club if the Supporters’ Trust are unable to secure a buyer by midnight on Tuesday 4th April 2023. Moving forward, my shares in the club will remain up for sale, hoping to secure the most suitable buyer for the football club.”.

The figures of £650,000 was commonly noted as being the money required to buy out Glen Henderson’s 51% holding although the deal came with “preposterous” conditions, around losing capital already paid if the final instalments were not were not paid and paying interest on deferred payments.

The April 4 deadline came and went, none of the 6 bidders had followed through on their initial interest. Effectively, the Trust's period of "exclusivity" was over and Glen Henderson was free to sell to his own buyer (subject to Trust agreement).

There followed a period of near radio silence punctuated by a Glen Henderson holding statement update and a few days later (June 5) by YCST’s New Approach, which was largely the same as before but with an added final focus of "Fundraising – Fundraising at the right time to help our football club and improve fan experience".

Finally, on June 28 2023, Glen Henderson’s share sale was completed. He sold his 51% holding to 394 Sports Ltd, owned by mother and son Julie-Anne Uggla & Matt Uggla. Throughout the process, the YCST Scrutiny Committee and Trust board has been speaking with the Ugglas' representatives for a number of months, they found them to be highly dedicated and professional in their efforts. The Ugglas impressed with their proven success in business and resources to invest in club operations and the team. They outlined a vision to realise the club's potential, aligning with supporters, and capitalizing on significant opportunities to grow commercial revenue to benefit the football club. Since the completion of the scrutiny process, we have been particularly impressed with both Julie-Ann and Matt’s continued desire to seek partnership and collaboration with the Trust and its Members. Prior to completion of the sale, The Trust and the Uggla’s entered in to a formal partnership agreement, without the obligation to do so the Ugglas have committed to:

  • Working closely with the Trust and its Members
  • Investing in the future of York City Football Club
  • Maintaining the rights of the Trust held in the club’s Articles.

Matt Uggla noted, “It’s amazing to get it done. It has been a pretty quick process and we need to hit the ground running because things are getting underway and we need to catch up with other teams who have had all summer to prepare. We can really take this club as far as we want to take it, I think the sky really is the limit, there’s not really a ceiling on this club. It’s just a case of putting the right structures and plans in place to really go for it. The new owners would like to put on record their thanks to the Supporters Trust for their extensive work in helping us to complete the takeover. We look forward to working with all supporters to deliver a brighter future for the club.” They joined City’s board as Co-Chair alongside Alastair Smith and Mike Brown. The Trust retained its 49% shareholding. Read YCFC statement and listen to Matt Uggla's first interview as City's Co-Chair. On the same day. Matt Uggla attended the Trust’s first monthly social where he announced that City had sold the Stadium Management Company to GLL, at the time, Companies House noted Henderson’s resignation as a SMC director whilst Smith remained in situ. YCST announce a New Chapter. It is undertood that YCST first spoke to Uggla family representatives in February (before they got formally involved at Yeovil) and there are some protections in place in case the Uggla family walk away.

Some concern was raised over Matt Uggla, particularly a high profile involvement with Yeovil earlier in 2023. It was noted that he’d put about £500,000 into Yeovil without the takeover being completed. It was alleged that he walked in and wanted to change everything all at once. He signed some players that manager Mark Cooper didn't want or fancy on big money and longer contracts (Callum Harriott was apparently on £1,700 with another year left) and that he completely split the dressing room. Uggla was at loggerheads with Cooper because he wanted certain players to play and Cooper wouldn't give into those demands and he used social media as a platform to start public spats with Cooper, the board and others. His attempted takeover failed. At the YCST AGM (3rd August 2023), it was stated that the Uggla’s cash was an investment and not a loan.

Let’s us hope that Matt Uggla is more circumspect with City than he was at Yeovil. He comes across as an astute person with a vision. It is to be hoped that for all his money, he realises that football is not a get rich fast business, indeed, making any money at all is a rarity.

It is believed that the Ugglas would not have invested in YCFC without the input of both Mike Brown and Alastair Smith (both unpaid volunteers who bought their own match day tickets) as Glen Henderson struggled to understand how the club was run. Mike Brown noted on social media (January 6, 2024), ”I expended far more time, effort and money getting rid of him (Henderson) when he started to show his true colours. I also worked with over 20 prospective buyers, including the Ugglas to repair the damage. I didn’t particularly want to do any of it”.

A week after completing the deal, in a raft of interviews (in house, YHB and BBC Radio) the Uggla family noted the "transparency, honesty, advice" from YCST and that they were an “absolute joy to work with", "people on exactly same page” and Matt Uggla noted he didn’t “think we’d have got the deal done if Alastair (Smith) wasn’t involved” whilst Smith noted the thorough due diligence that the Uggla family did on City. Mike Brown noted a huge difference in the takeover process with the Uggla family. Julie-Anne Uggla noted that she has been leaning on 2 people, Secretary "Lisa Charlton, with 37 years’ experience has been phenomenal” and Glyn Sparks, the Commercial Manager who has "great ideas to push York City (forward)". The shares have been transferred and the Uggla family were awaiting confirmation of having passed the fit and proper persons test from the footballing authorities. There was vague talk about options to increase shareholding above 51% (Henderson had an option to go to 75% by July 2024). Across those interviews, generally Matt and Julie - Anne Uggla spoke well and said all the right things, even if Matt Uggla's example of progressing 7 of 10 development squad players into the first team seemed a little unrealistic.

Having made a substantial donation to Southend's Shrimpers Hardship Fund, a few days before the 2023/4 season started, Matt Uggla admitted that he'd looked at a possible purchase of Southend before his interest in City became known, but due to the complexities of that club's ownership and financial situation, he didn’t take it any further.

Matt Uggla was born in Canada and moved to North London at an early age, where he went to school and became a long Arsenal fan, initially going to games with his parents. His favourite all time Arsenal player is Alexis Sanchez. He looked at options from Championship down to National League North level before settling on York. His Yeovil involvement started behind the scenes in December 2022 and was he first contacted about City in February 2023.

The Family: Matt Uggla is understood to have a successful property investment business. Father Lance Uggla is seriously wealthy. That being said, property investor Matt has business interests of his own and is motivated to make a success out of his latest buy. The Canadian businessman founded financial data company IHS Markit in 2003 and sold it for £31 billion ($44bn) in 2020. At the time, his equity was 0.3% meaning his proceeds were an estimated $164m. Lance has in the past invested in ex-wife Julie-Anne's charity Zamcog which has raised £5m for Zambian orphanages and orphans (she is Zimbabwe-born). Julie-Anne has been "involved in the non-profit industry for over 20 years" and created a Ukrainian fundraiser in 1992 that's helped build 16 orphanages in the war-torn country. He set up the Uggla Family Foundation (previously reported) with $24m of Markit shares. He was later hired as CEO of BeyondNetZero, a climate change / combatting enterprise fund created by (Lord) John Browne, former boss of BP, at the last count, it had disbursed $192m. Matt’s younger sister, Riley Uggla featured in the 7th season of Made In Chelsea and has since founded 'sustainable luxury fashion brand' Riley Studio, which produces gender-neutral clothing.


  1. On 30th November 2023, YCST sold a further 24 % of the club’s shareholding to Julie–Anne Uggla for a £112,000 consideration leaving YCST owning 25% of the shares. Matt and Julie-Anne Uggla had made an earlier presentation to YCST members. On the night, with a high turnout (71%), 94.5% (564) were in favour and only 5.5% (33) opposed the sale motion. So with the Trust having roughly 850 members, 66.7% of those voted yes. That’s a huge majority so it can’t be spun as ‘low turnout of overall membership so only a minority went for it’. NB Assuming exactly 71%, that’s 841 members and 70.24% turn out. During the process, the following were revealed:
    • The Trust propose to sell 24% for £112k, a price that avoids Capital Gains Tax
    • The Ugglas may look for external investment if given 75%. 51% doesn't allow that. The shares will be in Julie-Anne Uggla’s name
    • The Uggla’s have invested £2.5m so far but the aim is still to make York sustainable. Couldn't say a lot about specifics due to NDAs in place. They had found a lot of debt at the club which has been paid off. Money to date is all investment, not loans
    • On loans, the Ugglas would need approval for anything that would take overall borrowing to over £200k against the current position (where there are no loans)
    • The Ugglas would love to own the ground or one in town, but that is way way way off
    • City Centre shop identified (along with options to minimise running costs)
    • Some club staff had received salary increases as the Ugglas believed they were underpaid
    • A supporters’ bar is essentially off the table. Confessional would have worked as it is set up as a bar. Any other unit would require fitting out (problem is that all the other units are empty shells). Would cost thousands and thousands to fit them out as bars that people want to drink in. The beauty of the Confessional was that is was turn key, it was all set up, bar, benches, pumps, kitchen etc. Would have cost barely nothing to get up and running
    • The Ugglas have spoken to the City of York council planning department about developing training ground. Planning applications in to sort the training ground problems and new buildings. They have installed a new gym at the training ground
    • The Trust is keen to start fundraising again to continue token donations to the club so as not to take the Ugglas for granted. Various jokey comments about the tea shop (Mama Doreen’s Emporium)
    • Working on match day experience with GLL and SMC
    • Didn't really touch on playing side, but the Ugglas did say they are looking to offload players. Also mentioned "old squad" which may indicate who is the target
    • Looking to increase links with foundation and knights
    • One massive thing that came out tonight was that the Ugglas are in it for the long term. They've fallen in live with the club and that came across well The Trust still has a right to 2 board members out of 6, or pro-rata if the board grows
    • Matt is a lifetime a member of the Trust.
  2. Wrexham supporters noted, "Reynolds and McElhenney have taken the time to learn that football clubs are delicate things, especially historic ones like Wrexham. They are not just sports teams but century-old community institutions; not just businesses but cultural artefacts to be carefully preserved. Reynolds and McElhenney thought it would be an exercise in philanthropy rather than passion. The new owners invested in community schemes and hired voluntary staff like Wrexham’s disability liaison officer". Let’s trust that the Uggla’s have a similar philosophy.

2023 - The Future?

With the support of Matt and Julie – Anne Uggla behind them, how far can City go? The 2023/4 season sees both Bournemouth and Luton in the Premier League. Can City reach the Premier League? Is that sustainable?

Yes it can be done, just ask Notts County, AFC Wimbledon, Bradford City, Wigan, Oxford and Carlisle, all “small” clubs" who have enjoyed time in the top flight in my lifetime. Now it is the turn of Bournemouth and Luton. For each of them, you could say the club was pulling together and there was a driving force, often a manager or “no one likes us” attitude, which drove them forward. As others have said, self-sufficiency and sustainability are the issues.

In more recent years, “bigger” clubs like Charlton, Swansea (the Rodgers / Martinez years), Stoke, Southampton and Leicester appeared to establish themselves in the Premier League, but could not sustain that success.

You only have look at City. Not once have we been able to replace a successful ageing / disintegrating side, think 1974, 1984, 1993 and 2012, sides put together on relative shoe strings. Where was the next Graeme Crawford, Keith Walwyn, John MacPhail or Scott Kerr?

After City, clubs like Hereford, Shrewsbury, Stockport, Scunthorpe, Southend, Doncaster, Crewe, Colchester and Yeovil all reached the Championship before dropping down.

One off runs up the pyramid are very doable. For a traditionally small club, building the infrastructure to maintain that higher echelon is by far the bigger challenge.

Riches might help, but with financial fair play in the Football League, infrastructure and sustainability are the key. I welcome the efforts that City are putting in to both grow the infrastructure and develop more commercial links. When we have a ready made stream of young players pushing for a first team place, then we might have take off.

Rotherham might be a club we could aspire to, a steady club capable of pushing up into The Championship without disintegrating as they travel between Championship and Division 1 football.