Thursday, 11 July 2013

RIASA and Bradford City CEO David Baldwin explains Garforth Town sponsorship deal

David Baldwin, Bradford City and RIASA CEO
By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Bradford City and Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy CEO David Baldwin has dismissed claims of a conflict of interest between Northern Counties East League clubs Eccleshill United and Garforth Town.
RIASA have been in partnership with Eccleshill for over a year, but last month entered into another one with recently relegated Garforth Town.
RIASA will run a reserve team at Garforth as the number of students has gone up from between 25 and 40 to 77 which meant the organisation had to find means of accommodating them. 
The players train full-time at Leeds Met University.
The organisation will also be providing sponsorship money to Garforth for the season.
Mr Baldwin said: “What is important is that the two clubs have to be very independent so therefore the management committee and football manager of Garforth are their own entity as is the football manager and committee of Eccleshill.
“There was a four way agreement signed between Eccleshill United’s chairman, the chairman of Garforth Town, the chairman of the NCEL and ourselves (RIASA).
“The primary objective of that agreement was to say that a player registered for Garforth or Eccleshill that between the two clubs there is only one transfer either way per month.
“It is to show there isn’t wholesale movement from one club to another. That protects the integrity of the league.
“But the most important thing to do is to demonstrate that Garforth is an independent operation and that RIASA’s involvement within Garforth is simply a sponsorship process and they have a selection option from players that are not registered at Eccleshill to choose from.”
Mr Baldwin also admitted that the NCEL board were initially concerned, but were content with the agreement after talks.
He said: “The NCEL wanted the clarity, but the positive is that they had seen the good effect it (partnership with RIASA) had on Eccleshill.
“Their biggest concern was that there wasn’t going to be wholesale movement from Eccleshill to Garforth and once we explained that it was supplementary rather than replacement, that was the first hurdle – is this going to compromise Eccleshill?
“Well Eccleshill knew it wasn’t and confirmed it wasn’t.
“The league then realised it wasn’t and then quite rightly made sure there is a system in place to demonstrate that we don’t flaunt the rules in terms of player transfers.”
Garforth Town head coach Graham Nicholas
Garforth head coach Graham Nicholas is under no obligation to play any of the RIASA players that feature in the Miners reserve team. Nicholas is busy building a new team for the club’s return to the NCEL Premier Division following relegation from the Evo Stik Division One North.
RIASA had been tracking Garforth’s season and approached Town’s Oxford-based owner Rupert Lowe with a view to creating a second team.
Mr Baldwin said: “There is a big cost involved in running a reserve team because transportation, kits, medical staff, coaches and travel fare so really that was the offer that RIASA had originally had a discussion with Garforth Town about – can we set up a reserve team under your brand name in order to help assist you with additional players that you select on merit?”
From those discussions, RIASA became more involved, but at the insistence that members of the local community ran the club.
He added: “Now there are in a situation where by there is a bit of financial stability sitting behind the club, but most importantly the people running it are from the local community who are at the helm taking charge of it.
“There is nobody from RIASA on Garforth Town’s management committee.”

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