|MEMBERS TO MEET AGAIN
(Monday 3rd May 2004)
Members of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club have been notified of a further Members' meeting to take place on Tuesday 18th May in the Vere Suite at Adams Park. In a letter to members dated 27th April 2004 and also summarised on the Club's official website, Club Chairman Ivor Beeks commented "To all of us at the Club it is a very serious issue. Without the kind of changes we have in mind the future from a financial perspective looks pretty bleak. There is a real threat to the status of the Club if we run desperately short of cash and that looks like happening during the close season."
The Chairman apologised for failing to respond to all the written communication from members since the last set of meetings in January and February but added "The decision would need to be a properly informed decision so we have a duty to explain in detail exactly what it is we are proposing, how it will work and how it will serve not only to avoid a financial catastrophe but to ensure adequate protection of those things which all of us as members hold dear."
Precise details of the new structure will not be released prior to the meeting on the 18th May, with the Chairman adding "We have decided for a number of reasons that it would not be appropriate to circulate full details ahead of the meeting." In the mean time members are being asked to refer to statements circulated after the January/February meetings.
Running alongside the welcome communication to members has been the interest shown by the local and national media. A lengthy piece written and researched by David Conn, a renowned journalist specialising in finances and crisis in football, appeared in The Independent on Saturday 24th April 2004 and included a quote from Club Financial Director Rod Tomlin "If investment is not allowed in, the directors may consider putting the club into administration." The quoted was repeated in the Bucks Free Press published on 30th April and led to numerous other media outlets picking up on the financial state at the Club.
The threat of administration really centres around a need for cash described by the Club as "a £500,000 black hole to fill and nothing to fill it with unless we bring in some new money." The Board's figure includes an amount relating to player and staff wage defferals and also a significant amount relating to pay-offs for a departed Management team including Lawrie Sanchez and Terry Gibson.
The Club claim they have reached a ceiling on their overdrafts and loan agreements and are set to report a loss for the 2003/4 season of around £500,000. A statement from the Board delivered to members in February 2004 said "We predicted a loss in the region of £300,000 this year. Taking into account depreciation charges of £310,000 we would have been just on the right side of the fence in cash terms. Overlaid on all this we will have suffered some pain as a result of the Lawrie Sanchez departure terms and will have experienced shortfalls on gates, season ticket revenue, sponsorship income etc." The statement concluded "To deviate from plan by this margin is extremely disappointing but in the business we are in it was unpredictable. Sadly we did not start out with much of a cushion to soften a blow like this."
Rod Tomlin returned to the subject of constitutional change in an article published in the matchday programme on 1st May 2004, where he commented "We don't feel very good about it but we are facing a cash flow crisis in the close season. We are working hard on the one option which should allow us to overcome it. A comprehensive 3 year business plan is going to be published shortly." Tomlin dismisses any options other than changing the constitution, adding "Sadly it is not possible for us simply to tighten our belts and trade out of the difificult situation ahead. It will be upon us far too quickly. This is why we have planned a strategy which focuses upon the constitution of the Club - we foresaw where we might need to go at the beginning of the season but we did not want to take precipitate action when clearly the season could have been much kinder than it actually has. If we do not proceed as planned the risk of administration is a real one."
The Board are now hoping to convince members at the meeting on 18th May of their proposals for the future, Chairman Ivor Beeks saying to members in the invite "You will be asked to buy into the proposals ahead of an Extraordinary General Meeting in July. Clearly you will need time to consider the proposals but we shall not proceed unless we are convinced that we are carrying the majority of the membership with us." 75% of the members who attend and vote at an EGM would need to vote in favour of the changes for the new constitution to be adopted.
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