The Football Conference have issued a press release following their Annual General Meeting, during which a special thank you was extended to Blue Square.

It reads as follows:

The good news that Setanta Sports had been saved, delighted The Football Conference at their 2009 Annual General Meeting and Presentation Dinner.

After an eventful season when the Competition Rules had been rigorously applied, Clubs left Stratford-upon-Avon looking confidently forward to the new season.

Despite a worrying week, the Setanta Sports crew and presenters demonstrated the utmost professionalism and commitment when filming the Awards Ceremony on Saturday 13 June. The evenings event will be screened on Setanta Sports on Friday 19 June 2009 at 6.00pm.

In a further announcement, Setanta revealed it planned to repeat last season’s successful start when a match from the Blue Square Premier’s opening day’s programme, scheduled this year for Saturday 8 August, would be televised live the preceding evening.

At the AGM and Divisional meetings held prior, Member clubs were advised of a number of changes and initiatives which the Board of Directors had actioned immediately and for next season, including ;

* For financial reasons putting on hold the appointment of a Chief Executive.

* Reducing the Board of Directors from 12 to 9 to streamline meetings and to save costs.

* Outsourcing the Conference Youth League administration and rebranding the competition – the Football Conference Youth Alliance.

* Bringing in the well known Non-League football ‘anorak’, Steve Whitney to be responsible for the official Football Conference website.

* The freeing up of essential staff time will allow a continuing appraisal and development of all office procedures. In particular, the aspect of financial governance by providing greater monitoring enabling Clubs to effect tighter controls and prudence.

Chairman Brian Lee in his opening address at the AGM reiterated this stance stating unequivocally the position of the Conference, “Whilst we will always endeavour to help any club, each and every individual club needs to operate within its means the rules of the competition, the laws of the land and like any other business honour its debts. Stand alone businesses may not need to concern themselves about paying their debts but when 68 clubs agree to abide by the rules then each needs to accept there has to be level playing field.”

He reminded clubs of the utmost importance concerning the “quarterly financial protocol returns” and the requirement for them to be made on time and that the Sub-Committee, independent of all Clubs, would continue to examine all the documents clubs were required to submit. Where evidence was forthcoming to call clubs before the Board he confirmed they would do so and that a fines tariff and other penalties for non-compliance would be implemented. A Player Registration embargo was an option if clubs failed to respond after a warning as indeed was the withholding of central funding. Having said that, he recognised that there is an appeal system in place for any club, or in fact the Conference itself, to challenge any decision made in respect of the Conference rules or articles. The Board was mandated by all 68 clubs to take on the onerous task of policing the system and maintain the integrity of the competition.

It was confirmed that Northwich Victoria and Chester City will start in their respective divisions minus 10 points but Brian Lee was hopeful that at the end of the forthcoming season they would be the only clubs to have suffered loss of points for whatever reason and that all clubs were able to trade within their means.

The 30th Congress weekend of The Football Conference honoured the memory of Jim Thompson who was a leading light behind the formation of the competition.

A Life Membership was bestowed on Phil Ledger (Woking FC) for his dedication and commitment to the competition.

General Manager Dennis Strudwick confirmed the publication of the 2009/2010 Fixture List was anticipated on or before Friday 3rd July.

A special thank you was extended to Blue Square for their sponsorship of all three divisions and the member clubs were advised that though this was the third and final year of their sponsorship agreement, discussions were already underway to extend the contract and continue to cement the excellent relationship which existed.