|PR MIX-UP BY CLUB
(Thursday 6th May 2004)
The Club have fallen into a PR mix-up ahead of the Members' meeting scheduled to to take place on Tuesday 18th May.
Wanderers' Manager Tony Adams gave his opinion on the yet to be presented proposals in a backpage article for the Bucks Free Press published on 30th April 2004. The Wycombe boss was quoted as saying "I think people should back the change. If you've got wealthy people in the area that want to invest in this football club then it has got to happen.". Adams, who was appointed as Wycombe boss just six months previous, said he backed the Chairman's wishes too. "The reason I am at the club is because of him. I believe in him", said Adams and added "You've got to allow people to invest in their club and it needs to be controlled with people at the club who look after it."
However, while Adams comments may be seen as honest opinion, the remarks came just a day before the publication of Club's Financial Director Rod Tomlin praise for the Wycombe Manager for staying out of the arguement.
Tomlin's comments were published in Wanderers' matchday programme versus Wrexham on 1st May 2004, where he stated, "He has his job to do and has not got embroiled in cash flow and the constitution - nor should he have done." However, Tomlin goes on to confirm that Adams may have an interest in new investment in a corporate structure for the Club, saying "His contacts in the world of football have spurned several opportunities for us to attract new investment into the Club. Knowing and introducing the right people is a great start. It also underlines Tony's commitment to Wycombe Wanderers."
Tomlin dismisses in the article the notion that Board members are out to make a 'fast-buck' from the deal, saying "No-one on the Board has a hidden agenda. No-one on the Board is seeking personal gain. The future well-being and prosperity of the football club is all that matters. I believe there is only one other football league club with a constitution similar to ours and the scale of the problems they face is much greater."
The comments come after concern from some onlookers that some interest free loan-notes held in the name of several Directors (totalling over £300,000) would have to be paid back immediately if the current constitution was scrapped. Alternatively, they could be converted into equity as a back-door route to partial ownership of the Club. Meanwhile, Tomlin's comparison to the "other football league club with a constitution similar to ours" is somewhat futile. The Club in question is Rushden & Diamonds and they were mentioned in similar comments to members at the meetings in January and February 2004. However, while Rushden & Diamonds are indeed a company Limited by Guarantee, that is where the comparison ends. They have just seven members who all sit on the Board of the Football Club. Diamonds have been funded by Max Griggs (owner of the Dr Martens empire) since their formation in 1992 and he wants out having stumped up an estimated £30m on their road to the Football League. They were reported to be heading for a £2m loss this season prior to major cut-backs and were paying the third highest wage bill in the Division. Recent accounts show that 70% of their income is generated by sponsorship and advertising.
Wanderers Director of Sales and Marketing, Mark Austin also joined in the debate via his 'Marketing Matters' programme notes, commenting "Although I am proud of our current constitution, I can not see us being able to ever trade out of our current financial situation without constitutional changes that attracts new investment and allows a new/existing Board of Directors to sell shares in the future when inevitably further new monies are again needed."
The comments confirm fears that any changes could merely be a quick fix to the spending philosphy of the current Board. However, Austin adds cut-backs have already been made in spending budgets, leading towards what many people would regard as living within your means. He added "These steps have certainly made our growing debt smaller than it would have been otherwise. It is no secret therefore that the Board of Directors are budgeting for a much reduced players wage bill next season, not because this is something we all ideally want, but frankly after year on year losses, it is the prudent and sensible thing to do."
The 2003/4 season will see Wanderers declare a loss for the eighth time out of ten seasons in Division Two. The last profit came after more than £1m of unbudgeted revenue was derived from the FA Cup run in 2000/1. In the three seasons following, combined losses total close to £1.3m despite a turnover in the same period of over £13m and gate receipts of £3.8m. Players wages in the same three year period are estimated at close to £4.5m.
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