Chairman Simon Gauge and Director Richard Knight have written to supporters to provide clarity around the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) that has been called.
MESSAGE FROM SIMON GAUGE
The Club have called an EGM of shareholders to approve the offer of a loan from myself and Richard Knight. As you will be aware, the Club have been seeking an investor for some time and are speaking to several interested parties. The offer of a loan is up to shareholders to approve or reject, but it is there with the motivation of relieving immediate cash flow pressures for a period of time, so that the Club is not forced to go with the first investor that comes along. Instead, this would allow the time to find the best investor for the long-term sustainability of the Club.
The loan will also allow time for us to find out if the Supporters Trust community asset fund bid is successful, as this will enable a deal to be done between the Supporters Trust and Club to secure the ground in the long-term and provide a significant cash influx to the Club.
The intention of the Club would be to fully pay off this loan immediately on the sale of the available shares in the Club, or the completion of a deal to sell the pitch to the Supporters Trust should they be successful in their community asset fund bid.
Having invested significant personal resources into the Club already, neither myself nor Richard are prepared to lend the money on an unsecured basis, so would require a provision that, should the Club go into liquidation, we would be able to recover the money. Please be assured we are NOT looking to take control of the stadium for our own benefit but to try and secure it for the benefit of all. The security will in effect only be called in out of either funds receivable, or in the very worst scenario if the Club was liquidated then we would have first call for repayment of the loans.
As ever the offer is made with the benefit of the Club at the forefront of our thoughts.
MESSAGE FROM RICHARD KNIGHT
Thank you for allowing me to address the concerns that some of the fans have regarding the proposed loan to the Club. The loans are there to ensure the Club has time to continue to look for outside investors. During the process so far, we have been strung along a little by some potential groups and have met with others – some very recently – who ultimately have been unable as yet to provide proof of funds and the source of those funds. We are continuing to talk to other suitors and that is why Simon and I have offered to loan the Club an amount of money to help us through the process.
There are lots of rumours and best guesses as to why we are doing this as a loan as opposed to buying extra shares. Simon and I have already reached our respective limits on shareholding and have decided any further monies must be safeguarded for ourselves and our families. If the EGM agrees, then the loans will be on a secured basis. This would mean that they would be repayable if and when the Club was sold and/or monies became available. Plus, if the worst came to the worst, we would sit at the front of the queue when everything was concluded.
The ground is worth conservatively £3 million. You would think that we could get a mortgage quote easily, but banks just aren’t in the marketplace when it comes to football clubs. So, what are the alternatives? We are a fan owned Club, so that means you, you, you, you, and me own the Club. Not Simon, not me, and not the Board of Directors. We are just the people trying to run the Club as best we can for us all.
It’s no secret that all over the country owners of clubs are having to shore up their balance sheets by injecting large sums of money. This ranges from clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea at the very top of the pyramid, down through the ranks to the likes of Stockport County and Salford City local to ourselves and at our level last season. These clubs have wealthy owners, and we don’t. Indeed, almost exclusively throughout the Premier League, EFL, and National League, clubs now have access to significant owner funding.
If we followed the same principle, we would be coming to you the fans for the money, or moreover the Shareholders. Can you imagine the uproar if we asked each shareholder for £1 for each of the shares they owned? Now that wouldn’t be for just this year, but next year and the year after, ad infinitum. There has been no appetite from the fan base to buy the remaining shares that were issued, and despite there almost certainly being some wealthier individuals than myself within the fan base, they for their own personal reasons have decided to keep their money in their bank accounts, as is their right.
Simon and I have talked about this for a few weeks and feel that now is the right time to make this offer, but it is you the shareholders that will decide if it is an offer you want to accept. The offer is made in good faith and genuinely, if anyone else wants to loan the Club money on the same basis then please come forward. I hope the above allays any concerns you may have and hopefully you will support the motion at the EGM.