York City Supporters' Trust

Since its formation in 2002, the York City Supporters' Trust has played a vital part in the well being off York City Football Club. The full story can be found on on the YCST website and is summarised here.

Formation and Early Years

Since 2002, the York City Supporters' Trust has been around and involved with YCFC. Prominent in the Batchelor era, its formation became the focus of the support that saw City survive to fight another day.

It was formed in February 2002 when former Chairman Douglas Craig announced that York City Football Club was for sale. Our club was sold to John Batchelor that summer, he put the club into administration within 12 months. A small group of dedicated local fans started the process on the 7th January 2002, when, following an overwhelming mandate at a public meeting, a working party was formed to launch the Trust. The Trust was launched on the 1st February 2002 at the Barbican only 26 days from the public meeting, a record that all involved should be proud of; it showed what is achievable when a group of committed people put their mind to things.

The people who started the Trust in York borrowed the basic idea from others. The first club to form a trust in this way was Northampton Town when they had a crisis in 1991/2. YCST were the 45th Trust to launch in the UK. The Football Task Force gave birth to an organisation called Supporters’ Direct. The people at Supporters Direct set out to spread the idea and provide help to supporter groups. YCST was set up with their direct help.

YCST raised £600,000, formed a new company and acquired the assets of YCFC from the administrator in 2003.

After a period of Trust ownership (and fund raising fatigue), worsening finances saw it sell 75% of the shares to Jason McGill. Some might argue, job done, the club was saved and someone else had assumed ownership. Thereafter, the Trust was largely dormant for a number of years.

YCST had effectively owned the club for years which coincided with relegation in 2004 and the first 2 seasons in non league football.

Some of the figures from back then have become a bit murky and subject to revision in later accounts, but it is generally agreed that the first season saw a profit before increasing losses were sustained over the next 2 seasons. That was hardly surprising given the big reduction in central funding, reduced attendances and reduced commercial / sponsorship opportunities. Also, at the time, the “onset of fundraising fatigue” was noted. The decision was made to seek a partner and in 2006 Jason McGill acquired 75% of the shares.

Registered with the Registry of Friendly Societies, YCST is registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 -1978 with a registration number of 29345R and its annual accounts are available.

The early years of the McGill ownership brought hopes of the Trust being able to play an active role within the club. Sadly, the hopes were dashed. The sale had effectively committed the club to offer board places to the Trust (numbers broadly in line with their 25% holding). Time has blurred the finer points of the qualification process and exact details of what happened are now hazy (or subject to different interpretations). Whatever, the Trust never really played an appropriate role in running the club. Inside the club, there was a feeling that The Trust had nothing to offer. Anecdotal evidence suggested that some Trust members involved just wanted to ride on the team coach and complain that players were overpaid when they had sight of contract details.

Over the years, the Trust has had a number of prominent members whose professional skills and acumen could have served the club well. Rather than embrace them, the club has actively distanced them. One example being the Youth Development Fund, an organisation that was raising around £30,000 a year when it was effectively would up by the club.

Post 2012

Post 2012 and the general on pitch malaise prompted an increasing amount of criticism; it increased more and more as the club and its senior figures largely withdrew from public life.

When Jason McGill put the club up for sale in 2019 there was hope of a new beginning. Quickly Jason McGill announced that he would carry on.

Come July 2022 and, to the lay supporter, The Trust bought the club and immediately sold a majority ownership to Glen Henderson. Trust statements and individual quotes suggested that this was the result of years of effort rather than an overnight event.

Within 6 months, the hopes for a new beginning were shattered. Glen Henderson’s persona caused a number of difficulties. Fractures between him and the wider supporter base were quickly apparent. He said that he felt that he and the Trust could not work together, echoing the earlier words and actions of Jason McGill.

Both the McGill family and Glen Henderson have said that the shared ownership model does not work, effectively noting the Trust wanted something (a meaningful role in running the club) but had nothing (in terms of funding) to offer. Their role was likened to one of governance or a policeman wanting to ensure fair play. Speaking on York Hospital Ball (April 2022) Sophie Purves recalled in the early days of the Trust board that Steve Beck felt like a figurehead chairman whilst Jason McGill was the leader in the board room although there was little conflict. Gradually, there was a growing disillusionment with the Trust Board, she felt the Trust acted like a policeman, wanting to oversee every decision, but it had little effort, energy or fundraising.

In truth, what they both McGill and Henderson probably meant was without financial input, partnership doesn’t work.

It is to be hoped that Matt Uggla has a different viewpoint that he embraces the best of The Trust.

Club Ownership

From April 2003 to June 2006, the Trust operated York City Football Club with the help of board of voluntary directors, including Jason McGill.

In June 2006, Trust members voted to transfer 75% of the company shares to JM Packaging Ltd, a company owned and operated by Jason McGill, in return for an initial loan to York City of £950,000.

The Supporters’ Trust retained the other 25% of the YCFC shares and continued to act as the guardian of the club.

In July 2022, when Jason McGill sold his shares, he sold his 75% holding to YCST who on the same day sold 51% of the shares to Glen Henderson, retaining the others.


It must be remembered that City’s directors usually serve without pay, they are generally business men who can afford to work without pay. Douglas Craig, was in the legal professional, before him, Michael Sinclair, a prominent local retailer, his board consisted of owners of local businesses, building firms, car dealerships and a publican. Self made men who could work for nothing. Later Jason McGill, another self made man, the sole owner of a multi million pound business.

So any Trust member who wished to serve as a director would possibly need to have independent financial means.

That put the role of a director in a director in a different light. I’m sure many of us could do the job, far fewer of us could do the job for nothing.

In 2022, when Trust members Alastair Smith and Mike Brown joined City’s board, both received no remuneration, their many hours of work being unpaid.

Minority Ownership

Relationships between Jason McGill, YCST and the wider supporter base were often fraught. Lack of supporter engagement, including board membership, was the main area of disagreement.

In early 2019, Jason McGill unsuccessfully attempted to acquire the YCST’s 25% holding.

In July 2022, YCST announced that they had acquired all the shares from Jason McGill and had then sold a majority (51%) holding to Glen Henderson whilst retaining the other shares.

The Glen Henderson honeymoon period was over by November 2022.

At different time, both Jason McGill and Glen Henderson had said that they couldn't work with the YCST. Jason McGill had requested YCST raise £50,000 a year to ensure board membership.


With Mike Brown stepping down a Trust chairman in 2023 and his role as a City director about to end (expected to be some time after the Henderson sale is completed), he deserves a big thank you for his tireless work over 2 decades to help to ensure City’s survival.

Without knowing him, I believe his health has suffered, but he has worked tirelessly whilst all the time having to placate a vocal supporter base. He might have made some mistakes over the years and would possibly change some of the things he did, but it is reasonable that all the actions he took, he considered were right for the Trust and City at the time. Come 2023 and despite Glen Henderson still in charge, season ticket sales have remained strong, not far short of the total sold a season earlier when we were celebrating promotion and the end of the McGill regime.

City’s support remains strong, the 2022/3 season saw the highest aggregate seasonal attendance since 1985. However, the vast majority of City fans are still not YCST members.

The Role Of The Trust - 2023

If a shared ownership model is to work (in the eyes of the other ownership parties), then it might be reasonably expected that all parties contribute financially, unless a true benefactor s prepared to offer more financial input.

It must be remembered that neither a majority nor minority shareholder has any legal obligation to pump money into a business. It is the responsibility of the board of directors to set a budget and to work within that budget. A surplus can be used to fund investment or pay a dividend. Any deficit must be made up somehow, usually by pumping money into the business or selling assets or taking a loan.

I recall Jason McGill asking the Trust to provide £50,000 of funding per year to play an active role within the club. The Trust retorted that fundraising wasn’t their remit.

Darlington annually run a boost the budget scheme and it seems that nearly every York Knights signing is heralded by the words “thanks to the squad builder”.

City’ first ever boost the budget scheme was curtailed within a few days of being launched after substantial funds had already been raised.

Surely, it is not unreasonable to expect that if City (or the Trust) were to launch a new boost the budget scheme, then given City’s attendance, which are about 4 times that of Darlington, then City could top the £160,000 that the current Darlington scheme has raised.

Why The Trust

The Trust is an organisation where all supporters can get together in a structured way making it easier for the club to understand what the supporters, as a body, feel about a particular issue. Because it can deliver a single message from a large body of people, the strength of that message should be difficult for the club to ignore.

The Trust exists for the benefit of its members. The aims of the Trust are about the well being of the club, bringing it closer to the community of York and District and helping the development of young footballers in the area. By supporting the Trust you support these ideals.

All money contributed will help the Trust achieve its aims and all monies will only ever be used for the betterment of York City Football Club. The cost of running the Trust is kept to a minimum and is met from a proportion of the membership fees.

At different times, many people have criticised the role of the Trust and the actions of its senior members. To understand how valid those criticisms are, one must refer to the Trust’s role.

Consider the Trust’s stated objects, to paraphrase:

  • strengthen links between club and community
  • benefit members of the community served by the club by promoting football as a recreational facility / sporting activity and focus for community involvement
  • "provide and maintain facilities for the enjoyment of profession al football in the area"
  • promote coaching schemes to develop football skills
  • further the development of football

It is not unreasonable to suggest, the Trust has delivered on these objects.

Nowhere does it mention fundraising, although it “new approach”, published in June 2023 broadly re-stated the previous objects but added as a fourth and final area,

“Fundraising – Fundraising at the right time to help our football club and improve fan experience.

The short lived ”boost the budget” campaign in the last days of John Askey and financial support to pay the bills in early 2023 suggested this new objective is being fulfilled.

The Small Print

The Trust is formally called “The York City Supporters Society Limited”. It is registered with the Registry of Friendly Societies. You will know it as York City Supporters’ Trust – its more common name. The Trust is registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 -1978 with a registration number of 29345R.

It has a set of 126 Rules which were adopted by the vote of members at the AGM in February 2012. This is based on the standard set of rules drawn up by Supporters Direct for Supporters Trusts. The Registry has approved these Rules and the Registry must also approve any changes. And they will not allow any changes that weaken the principles of the Trust. Download the Trust Rules (PDF).

The most important of these are:

  • It exists for the benefit of its members
  • It must be inclusive so that anyone who cares about the club can join
  • Any money it receives can only be used toward achieving its aims
  • It is democratic – one member gets one vote no matter how much money they give
  • There can be no changes to these principles unless the members as a whole vote for it (in practice this means they will not change).

The Trust has not been set up to replace existing supporters clubs and organisations. It aims to be an ‘umbrella’ group where there all such bodies can work together with individual supporters to bring the club closer to the community.

The YCST objectives are to benefit the community by:

  • being the democratic and representative voice of the supporters of the Club and strengthening the bonds between the Club and the communities which it serves;
  • achieving the greatest possible supporter and community influence in the running and ownership of the Club;
  • promoting responsible and constructive community engagement by present and future members of the communities served by the Club and encouraging the Club to do the same;
  • to provide and maintain facilities for the enjoyment of professional football in the Area;
  • to benefit present and future members of the community served by the Club by promoting encouraging and furthering the game of football as a recreational facility, sporting activity and focus for community involvement;
  • operating democratically, fairly, sustainably, transparently and with financial responsibility and encouraging the Club to do the same;
  • being a positive, inclusive and representative organisation, open and accessible to all supporters of the Club regardless of their age, income, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexuality or religious or moral belief.