Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Buyers for Salisbury City?

Posted by John Beech on April 16, 2009

Salisbury City, currently lying 14th in the Conference with 54 points, have been up for sale for £1 since April 8th. (1) and are now reported as having three or four serious candidates to purchase the club (2). It’s not just having £1 that matters – a condition of the sale is that the new owner invests in the club.

Promoted in 2006 from the Southern League and again in 2007 from the Conference South, the club suffers from Gretna Syndrome – financial performance lags behind playing performance and the club is consequently under-funded for the level it now finds itself at.

In recent years Peter Yeldon has been on and off the scene in the role of benefactor. One of the game’s ‘colourful characters’, he was reported in May 2005 as having been ‘”severely reprimanded” and fined for malpractice by the Professional Standards Office of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)’ (3). Yeldon joined the board of Salisbury City in October 2004, but quit in June 2006 (4). In August 2006 he was back again (5) but in April 2008 it was announced that once again he would be stepping down (6). In January 2009, he was, you’ve guessed, reported as having rejoined the board. At the time of writing he is not listed as a director on the club’s website, and the club statement announcing the sale referred to him as a ‘former director’ (7). Quite. This rapid succession of changes cannot have helped in bringing stability to the club’s financial planning.

Yeldon’s departure last summer was certainly followed by hard times – players had to be sold and loaned out, and a public appeal was launched, to which players contributed, an indication of their loyalty to the club (8). A second appeal was launched in January (9).

How serious any of these candidates are remains to be seen, as indeed does their identity. The game’s now legendary ‘mystery backers’ are back again.

There is a slight sense of déjà vu in all of this. In 2002 the present Chairman, Neville Beal, led a consortium which saved the club, then on the brink of oblivion. Then, however, they were about to resign from the Dr Martens league; today they hold a much more respectable position in the pyramid.


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