Round the Lower Levels Part 2
Posted by John Beech on December 21, 2011
At last, Part 2 of my overview of what is happening from a broad financial perspective. Part 1 ran alphabetically up to Prescot Cables, and is available here. With a slight jump backwards, we pick it up with:
- Port Vale
An interesting case of ‘fan ownership’. Valiant 2001 bought the club from the Administrators in 2003 (1) – the club had debts of £2.4m and was said to be losing £500,000 a year (2) – and in doing so avoided the real threat that football might have disappeared from Vale Park (3).
Survival has been a battle, with the problem of sponsors not paying and a threatened takeover (4), and the need for a loan from Stoke City Council (5). Nevertheless the club managed to complete its CVA in May 2005 and to come out of Administration in October 2006. Meanwhile local boy Robbie Williams had bought shares for an undisclosed sum (6). However Chairman Bill Bratt had “taken the club as far as I can” by September 2008 (7), but was denying takeover rumours the following month (8).
Into the New Year and a row was brewing over the apparently different involvement with local rivals Stoke City by the council (9). Bratt attempted to clarify the club’s difficulties here, and pointed out his already considerable commitment to the club (10).
Fan opposition to the way the board was running the club mounted, and Bratt pointed out the obvious:
Supporters have protested against the board in recent weeks, and Bratt said it could be potentially destructive.
“If we go, what happens? We fold immediately. If that’s what they want, they could take the club down, not the board,” said Bratt.
He added: “I’m quite happy to walk away from this club right now, but the banks and creditors would come in straight away, and there’s no Plan B in place. (11)
Plans B, C and D have however emerged in recent years – the failed attempts by various parties to invest in the club (Harlequin Properties (12); Mike Newton (13); Mo Chaudry (14); and most recently Blue Sky International (15)), although there has been investment by Peter Miller (16).
All the uncertainty has prompted an attempt by fans to oust the board (17).
All very sad. The days of fan-benefactors like Jack Hayward, Jack Walker and Steve Gibson seem to have gone, and fans need to be clear in discriminating between ‘fan-owned’ and ‘Supporters Trust owned’.
I’d planned to avoid blogging about Pompey until the situation became clearer, but it hardly seems reasonable not to comment in this context.
The immediate situation sounds reasonable, with the immediate possibility of points deduction probably not on the Football League’s agenda (see previous posting). The issue is just how long the ‘immediate’ will last – current indications are that it will all too brief, with time and money running out sometime next month. Whether Keith Harris will have been able to weave his magic in finding a buyer before then (18) seems unlikely – Pompey are hardly the most attractive of clubs to buy in their present mess (19). I have it on good authority that even the liquidation of the ‘oldco’ is proving to be contentious.
Administration for the club (as opposed to the existing Administration of CSI) looks increasingly likely, with its inevitable 10 points deduction, threat to keeping up the CVA payments (and further points deduction).
Increasingly liquidation and resurrection by the Pompey Supporters Trust looks the only viable longer-term scenario.
- Rossendale United
The club did not reapply for membership of the North West Counties Football League at the start of this season (20), and a new club is being resurrected (21). News is scant, any local informed input would be appreciated. See also my posting in March where I argued that the club was a classic case of Benefactor Withdrawal Syndrome (BWS).
- Rothwell Town
In October the Rowellian Football Social Club (trading as Rothwell Town Football Club) did go into Administration (22). Again, any local informed input would be appreciated.
- Rushden & Diamonds
Following their expulsion from the Conference (23), the club tried but failed to get into the Southern Premier League (24), and went into Administration (25). That appears to be the end of the club in this manifestation, but an AFC Rushden is being formed (26).
This seems to be another case BWS, although perhaps with twists yet to emerge…
- Southend United
In November the club announced “Roots Hall Development Moves Closer” (27). So, nothing new there then. Meanwhile, the Fossetts
FantasyFarm project has been “has been removed from the [Council’s] capital programme until the certainty of developer contribution can be ascertained” (28).
- Truro City
The club owned by Kevin Heaney, wannabe owner of Plymouth Argyle, is in deep, deep trouble. Wages have been unpaid (29) and the ‘Stadium for Cornwall’ project now has a big question mark hanging over it (30).
HMRC are chasing tax debts of over £100.000, and the club has until January 16 to come up with the money or face a winding-up order (31).
A not entirely unfamiliar story here too (32), with unpaid wages and money owed by a sponsor (33).
All too worryingly, I could start going round the alphabet again, with various tales of various woes at Barnet (34), Cheltenham (35), Chorley (36), Coventry (37), Croydon Athletic (38) and Dorchester Town (39), although at least the last of these has a positive side, a possible takeover by Dorchester Town Supporters Trust.
It looks as if the race is definitely on for the club to face the first insolvency event of 2012. February is the second highest peak for insolvency events (behind may), so it could well be a close run thing.
I’m beginning to wind down (or is it up?) for Christmas, so, in case I don’t post again in the next few days, a very Happy Christmas, or Bah Humbug (delete as you consider appropriate), to all readers.