Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Good news, too, kinda, for Wrexham. The BBC reports that the administrators are taking legal action to reclaim the club's ground from Alex Hamilton, who apparently did some dodgy stuff when transferring the Racecourse from the football club to one of his property development companies. Originally Hamilton had given the club until the end of July to vacate the ground, but he backed down after the administrators challenged the legality of this.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Starting with the bad, up in Carlisle relations have turned sour between club owner Fred Story and United Trust leaders Kate Rowley and Alan Steel. It stems from an agreement between the Trust and Carlisle's previous owner John Courtenay, who promised the Trust the right to buy a 40% share in the club for £800,000. Thanks to a £600,000 loan from Gretna chairman, Carlisle fan, and Trust-friendly Brooks Mileson, that money has now been raised, but Story has refused to rule out the option of another share issue, which will of course dilute the Trust's shareholding. Apparently Story has offered to guarantee that the Trust will always have a minimum stake of 25.1%, but the Trust has rejected the offer. A somewhat one-sided press statement has been published on the Carlisle official web site, but the alternative view is also available, on the United Trust's web site.
Now for the good news. Two clubs, Rushden and Stockport County, have become (or are about to become) Trust owned. As of 1 July the not-so-niftily named Stockport County Supporters Trust will be taking over the running of the Edgeley Park outfit, after the head of current owners Cheshire Sport, Brian Kennedy, agreed to transfer his shareholding to the Trust, along with a rent-free 25 year lease to the ground.
Meanwhile, back to Irthlingborough, where former Rushden & Diamonds owner, and the manufacturer of Doctor Marten's boots, Max Griggs, has already given the Diamonds over to the also-not-so-niftily named Rushden & Diamonds Supporters Trust. The Trust has inherited a debt-free club with £20m in assets and more than 20 acres of land. The Griggs family, former owners of the club, have also agreed to fund Rushden up to £750,000 over the next two seasons. Both Stockport and Rushden seem to have benefited from incredibly magnanimous gestures from previous owners, although a cynic might wonder what the catches are. It seems to us that there are none, and that supporters of both clubs are in an extremely enviable situation, with the opportunity to put into practice what most supporters can only dream about. It's a shame that such magnanimity has somehow got lost between Greater Manchester and Cumbria.
The final Trust-related item shows that it's not just a one-way street, as Notts County have been given the lifeline of a £50,000 loan by the Notts County Supporters Trust, which actually owns the club. The interest-free loan is to help the club survive the close season, during which no income is received, but the club still has bills to pay.
As well as the Trust angle, all these stories have another common thread - they all relate to teams playing in the fourth division. Let's hope that one day OxVox will be playing a pivotal role in the Oxford United decision-making structure!
Friday, June 17, 2005
Meanwhile, there are a couple of news items that caught our eye today. In our division, newcomers Barnet might not be playing at Underhill next season, according to the BBC, who report that their ground has 1,000 seats too few to fulfil the requirements of the Football League. Those ever-helpful souls at Barnet Council are apparently refusing to allow the runaway Conference champions to upgrade, so Bees' chairman Tony Kleanthous is looking to ground share. We could be conceding goals to Simon King and co. at Watford or somewhere next season.
Meanwhile, another Bees are also looking for assistance. Brentford FC's supporters trust have launched a Back The Bees campaign, with the express aim of raising £1 million to by the club from odious chairman Ron Noades (or, more specifically, Altonwood Holdings) by September. Back the Bees is the web site launched by Bees United, which explains that the Trust's option to buy the ground expires in September, after which Griffin Park could be sold to anyone whom Noades chooses. The £1,000,000 would be used by the Trust to refinance the club's debt, enabling the supporters to buy Noades out. As with almost all Trust activities, this is one to support unconditionally if our ideal of a league of clubs owned and run by football supporters is ever to become a reality.