FORMER Newport County AFC director Charlie Hopkins has warned that a split in the boardroom could halt the progress that the club has made in recent years.

Hopkins left the board yesterday and his letter of resignation highlighted his concerns about the way the club is being run.

He was elected to the board in 2016 and initially put in charge of policy development.

His resignation follows that of Malcolm Temple as chairman of the owners’ board last month.

And Hopkins says he could no longer serve with fellow directors Gavin Foxall, Shaun Johnson and Mark Crook.

He claims the trio, along with fellow director Peter Madigan, have too much control and have formed what he says is “an executive board in all but name.”

In his resignation letter, Hopkins said: “I consider the new governance structure adopted on September 28 to be wholly at odds and fundamentally incompatible with the objectives of the Trust as set out in the model rules of the Trust.

“The establishment of the ‘Club Group’, which now has sole responsibility for all ‘income generating aspects’ of the club, means that to all intents and purposes, effective control of the club has now been formally transferred from the full board of elected directors to a group comprising two elected directors and two unelected, co-opted directors.

“It is an executive board in all but name.

“The remaining three elected directors and any further directors that might be elected in the forthcoming elections, will serve on the ‘Community Group’, which will be almost solely concerned with generating income from the Trust and building the membership of such.

“Whilst this is clearly an important task, as important is that all board members should be fully informed and involved in decisions that affect the running and future of the club.

“Given the sweeping nature of the changes to the structure and of the control of the Trust and club, together with the implications which this has for accountability (or the lack of), transparency and democratic control by the members, this change should have been explained in full and approved by the full membership of the Trust by way of an EGM/AGM.

“I have set out my concerns on these matters in a detailed Memo dated August 30, circulated to all members of the board, and do not propose to repeat them here.

“I have yet to be provided with minutes or any feedback of the full board meeting of September 28 where the new structure was apparently approved.”

Newport-born lawyer Hopkins acted as the solicitor for County, Colwyn Bay and Caernarvon in their legal battle against the FAW to remain in the English football system in the early 1990s.

He continued: “The operation of the club board is of particular concern.

“To date I have not been provided with any documentation relating to its inaugural meeting held in August 2017, despite requesting such, nor has any information been provided of any subsequent meetings.

“I am in little doubt that this situation will continue with the majority of elected directors being deliberately kept in the dark by the club board, despite elected directors continuing to carry full financial responsibilities for the club.

“Apart from one spreadsheet I have received no financial details whatsoever since July 2017.

“It is worth mentioning at this point that at the time of writing Mark Crook, who was co-opted in January 2017, is not recorded as being registered as Directors at Companies House.

“Additionally I consider the presence of Peter Madigan and Mark Crook on the club board to be wholly at odds with the objectives of the Trust.”

Crook and Madigan are reported to have previously made an unsuccessful bid to buy a majority shareholding in the club.

“There is also my concern (and other directors’) as to the process by which Peter Madigan was co-opted onto the board,” added Hopkins.

“Whilst his co-option had been previously discussed by the board, the board adopted a written co-option policy at the board meeting held on July 12. This policy set out a clear process which should be followed.

“On July 27 at an open supporters’ meeting Shaun Johnson [now interim Trust chairman following Temple’s resignation] announced publicly that Peter Madigan had been co-opted onto the board of directors.

“This was without any authorisation or approval of the board, or without going through the adopted co-option policy.”

Hopkins also raised concerns about the behaviour of other directors.

“The board has incorporated the Supporters Direct code of conduct into its rules and regulations,” he said.

“Amongst other things the code sets out expected standards of behaviour for directors.

“These include treating people politely, fairly, and with respect, listening to the views of colleagues with an open mind and not resorting to behaviour that could be considered aggressive or intimidating.

“My professional integrity has been questioned on numerous occasions, despite my satisfactorily resolving any number of legal challenges to the club.”

South Wales Argus:

Hopkins says he was excluded from talks with the Welsh Rugby Union this summer and questioned the manner in which Michael Flynn was appointed as manager back in March, suggesting that operational chairman Foxall (above) has too much say.

He added: “Anything which directors wish to communicate to the membership or press has to have Gavin Foxall’s personal approval.

“He controls practically every aspect of the club’s operations from finances to players’ contracts to internal staff matters.”

Hopkins concludes: “I remain as committed a supporter of the club as I have for the best part of 50 years, and have a firm commitment to the principles of supporter ownership.

“I will happily serve on any future board, but cannot do so whilst Gavin Foxall, Shaun Johnson and Mark Crook remain as directors.”

The club is holding an open supporters meeting tonight, between 7pm and 9pm in the Bisley Suite at Rodney Parade. The doors will open at 6.30pm.