Jason McGill is the Chairman of York City FC and Managing Director of his own company J M Packaging. Based in Malton, North Yorkshire, Jason’s role at the football club is to co-ordinate the Board and ensure it’s business strategy is implemented, which he has done successfully for over 12 years. Jason was responsible for the deal to acquire Bootham Crescent as York City’s home and he negotiates all key business deals for the club. He oversaw the club’s return to the Football League in 2012 in a season that saw the Minstermen famously play at Wembley twice, and last year a 23 game unbeaten run saw them reach the League 2 play-offs.
GW. Is it true there is an offer from J M Packaging to buy York City Knights?
JM. “I am acutely aware of the stalemate between the City of York Council and the current Chairman of the Knights, which prompted me to try and come up with a solution to alleviate the problems facing the supporters, staff and players, of The Knights, who are the ones mostly affected by the situation.
As Chairman of York City Football Club I have been in considerable and extensive negotiations with the City of York Council, which were concluded at the end of last year, regarding the terms for occupation of the new Community Stadium by the football club. I was asked by a group of Knights supporters to help with the dilemma that the Knights currently have regarding the lack of adequate training facilities for the players, which has inevitably disrupted their pre-season preparation, and ground availability for first team fixtures. The last game was played on Sunday at Clifton Park which, although I assume dispensation was given for this match, does not meet required RFL standards. A solution therefore needs to be provided sooner rather than later.
An open offer to purchase the share capital of the York City Knights was made by my company, J M Packaging Ltd, on the 24th February to the Knights’ Chairman in an attempt to move the club forward and resolve the current issues. To this date I have received no reply.”
Why do you want to get involved in Rugby League in York?
“I have a love of sport generally, especially sport in the city of York where Rugby League has a proud history and tradition. I feel I am in a position to help resolve the current problems and I am convinced that with the correct support off the pitch and with the prospect of a new Community Stadium with modern facilities, the future of Rugby League in York would not only be assured, but would be successful and enhanced.”
Who do you see running the Knights if J M Packaging’s takeover is successful?
“I would envisage that I would be Chairman as I have 12 years of experience of the machinations involved with running a professional football club, along with three other directors who are all long standing fans of the Knights each with the necessary skills coupled with aspirations to provide a solid platform for the club’s future.”
You count the hugely successful Wigan Chairman Ian Lenegan as a friend, has he given you any advice on getting involved in Rugby League?
“Ian Lenegan is a friend and it would be remiss of me not to ask his advice about Rugby League. Ian fondly remembers Wigan playing York in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup in 1984 and he still loves coming to York, as a director of Oxford Utd. Wigan are undoubtedly one of the foremost Rugby League Clubs in Super League and an excellent model of how professionalism is able to work for the benefit of sport with the Warriors co-existing superbly with the football club in a stadium that hosts International Rugby League games.
We would be at a new beginning for the Knights and it would be extremely advantageous to be able to call upon those with vast experience of the game as we commence our journey to hopefully higher levels of achievement.”
How do you see York City FC and York City Knights working together in the same ground, firstly at the historic Bootham Crescent and moving forward the Community Stadium?
“As stated above the situation at Wigan is an excellent example of how Rugby League and Football clubs are able to work together by sharing a stadium. It allows an inevitably expensive asset, the stadium, to be used more cost-effectively with not just sporting activities, but in our case the new York Community Stadium will be able to provide the various community aspects that are so important to local people, such as NHS services.
The intention at the Community hub is to use sport, Rugby League and Football, through both of the club’s charitable foundations to deliver health and wellbeing programmes that will benefit the people of York and North Yorkshire. There will obviously be the opportunity to take advantage of the economies of scale, under single ownership, that will help reduce costs to both clubs and increase income.”
Have York Council and the RFL been supportive of J M Packaging’s potential involvement in the Knights?
“J M Packaging decided to make an open offer to the current owner of the York City Knights with a view to being able to take the Rugby club forward and if it were to come to fruition, the company would work constructively with the City of York Council to ensure The Knights are involved in the Community Stadium project.”
Despite Rugby League salaries being considerably lower than football, will crucial funds be available for the Knights to progress? And can the Knights become self sustainable in the community stadium?
“Crucial funds will be made available, however sport has to be sustainable at all levels and consequently it would be necessary to examine carefully the existing budgetary models that have been utilised by the Knights to date, together with the club’s aspirations for the future, in order to determine how these objectives may successfully achieved.”
Do you think your experience in running a sports club will be an advantage in a new team sport? More so than say Dr Koukash, who got involved with a horse racing background…
“The experiences I have gained from being involved with York City Football Club will provide a great deal of assistance to the Knights from many different perspectives which will hopefully ensure we are able to hit the ground running in providing the necessary support for building a successful club.”
The McGill family has historic ties with York Rugby League as your Grandmother’s Brother, the legendary Tot Moore played for the club 100 years ago! A few generations later, but does your family still enjoy the sport?
“It was absolutely fascinating to hear of Tot, Thomas, Moore being regarded as “the smartest full-back in all Australia” over 100 years ago and his ultimately successful return to the UK which enabled him to represent his home town club. To see the programme dated 29 January 1908 when York played New Zealand at Clarence Street with his name at number 1 was really quite emotional and we are all immensely proud of his great achievements.”
Where do you see both York City FC and York City Knights in 5 years time?
“Ideally both teams will reach the pinnacle of their capabilities with the new Community Stadium providing a wonderful opportunity enabling players, staff and supporters from each club to be proud of their heritage and strive for greater personal and collective achievements. In particular the Knights need to gain promotion from League 1 as a primary objective and then aim to create a strong foothold within the upper-levels of the Championship alongside teams such as Bradford, Featherstone, Halifax and Leigh. This will ultimately determine future progression.
Ultimately, I truly hope I can help to provide the Rugby League supporters in York with both an immediate and long term solution that meets their hopes and aspirations for now and in the future.”