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Dale Trust Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

28 January 2022

Club News

Dale Trust Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

28 January 2022

Dale Trust launches crowdfunding campaign to Keep Rochdale AFC a fan owned-club

The Dale Trust has today launched a crowdfunding campaign to help defend the legal action that they are facing along with the eight members of the Rochdale AFC Board of Directors, and they need your support.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/keep-rochdale-afc-fan-owned/

Trust Chair, Colin Cavanah, said: “Dale supporters have stood firm and resolute over the past twelve months and have responded magnificently to every obstacle that we have faced during that time.

“Unfortunately, there is one more obstacle that we must overcome, and it is likely to be a very expensive one. Along with the RAFC Board of Directors, we must now defend ourselves from the legal action brought about by Morton House, and we need your help to do so.

“We are seeking donations from our fellow Dale supporters, those who live within our town that our Club represents with such pride and from our fellow football supporters across the country who share the same concerns and ideals that we do.

“Our Supporters have been unequivocal about their desire for the Club to remain a Fans Owned Club, and we as a Fan’s Organisation have acted on their behalf and will continue to do so to ensure that always remains the case.”

Rochdale AFC Chairman Simon Gauge, added: “It is important that as directors we stand side by side with our supporters, united as we have been since the new board has been in place, in the fight to be a fan owned club at the heart of and serving our community”. 

Why do the Dale Trust need your help?

The Dale Supporters Trust and eight members of the board of RAFC are facing a High Court legal action brought by a company named Morton House MGT and First Form Construction Ltd (‘Morton House’). It is alleged by Morton House that the Dale Trust and the board have unlawfully caused prejudice to Morton House as a shareholder in RAFC; something which the Dale Trust and the board strenuously deny.

Owing to this being a dispute between shareholders, the litigation cannot be funded by RAFC itself which means that the Dale Trust (a not-for-profit organisation) and the RAFC board (all of whom are unpaid for their work at RAFC) must bear the cost of defending what is often a notoriously expensive legal claim.

The Trust has written to all its members with further details of the case.

Who are the Dale Trust?

The Dale Supporters Trust works closely with the board of RAFC to help provide our members and the total fanbase with the opportunity to have a better say in the running of the club and to help spread ownership amongst its members. Much of our work benefits facilities within the club stadium which of course extends into the wider community as well as RAFC. As one of RAFC’s largest shareholders we are pleased to have an excellent working relationship with the current board and make every effort to bring supporters and the club closer together.

A call to football fans

Rochdale AFC was founded in 1907 and since that time it has never had a majority owner. Presently the club has over 300 shareholders the majority of which are fans. To that end, it has always been a fan-owned club.

Back in June 2021 the board of directors of RAFC was overhauled and a new Chairman was appointed in Simon Gauge. The new board members are all fans of RAFC and all volunteer their time without taking any money out of the club. At the same time the Dale Trust obtained representation on the board for the first time in its history.

During this period, and without sanction of the board, Morton House was in the process of acquiring shares in RAFC direct from shareholders with the aim of attaining a majority shareholding in the club. Such a takeover was unwelcomed by the Dale Trust and the board but, most importantly, by the fans. On that basis it could only be described as hostile. Furthermore, the acquisition of shares by Morton House was contrary to English Football League regulations, which had been strengthened following the sad events at Bolton Wanderers and Bury FC only one year prior.

We believe that this is the first time that any supporters body has ever faced such a legal action and we are calling on the help of football supporters within the UK and from around the world to support us in resisting the claim that has been brought by Morton House which, if successful, could result in it being in a strong position to gain control of RAFC. Governance in football is a huge issue right now with the Tracey Crouch Fan Led Review, and we are of the opinion that the safest future for our beloved club is that it continues to be owned and ran by supporters for the benefit of supporters and the community at large.

Legal team?

The Dale Trust and the Board have instructed HY Solicitors to act on our behalf. They have agreed to represent us in this matter below market rates. Queen’s Counsel has also been instructed.

How much we are the Dale Trust raising and why?

Unfair prejudice claims can be very costly. We are seeking to raise £130,000 to go towards the costs of defending these proceedings. Should there be any surplus, this would be donated to Rochdale AFC Community Trust, a registered charity, which carries out community work and charitable projects.

How can you help?

The Dale Trust have launched a crowdfunding page at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/keep-rochdale-afc-fan-owned/

They will also be running a number of events over the next few months where all funds raised will go towards the campaign. They do not anticipate reaching the required total through donations alone, so the events will be essential to our fundraising. Please keep an eye on their website for details.

 


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