|REACTION TO 29/7 VOTE
(Friday 6th August 2004)
The inevitable reaction to the conversion of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club to a PLC has come in the days following the EGM that gave approval to the reconstruction process.
Club Chairman Ivor Beeks has used this as the latest chance to roll out the obligatory call for supporters to pull together, Manager Tony Adams has said that is had to be done to move forward, while comment from the support believes that the wounds will take a while to heal after members had a 'gun pulled to their heads' during the voting process.
Reaction from the Club had been fairly low-key prior to the start of the season. Chairman Ivor Beeks was due to say his piece via the Club matchday programme v Cambridge United on 7th August but said the day after the EGM via the subscription service Wanderers World, "We got the result I think we deserved. We've put a lot of effort into getting that result and at the end of the day an awful lot of people (78%) voted for it." The Chairman added "I do believe now it is time to all pull together. A democratic decision has been made and we now need to move on. I think it is a really, really exciting time. Last night was to me the end of the road in terms of trying to persuade people that this was the right way to go and for that reason I'm really, really pleased."
Wanderers boss Tony Adams commented on the vote through the Bucks Free Press published on Friday 6th August, saying "We had to do it to move forward. When it becomes the Wycombe Wanderers plc on Friday I think things will change. We are doing it to allow private investment. If we don't do it we're stuck where we are. If the 500 members had been in a position to put in £20,000 each we would have been fine but they can't do it, so we have left it to the people that can put it in." The buisiness plan coupled with the change showed the playing side budget cut by close to £1m compared to the 2003/2004 season but Adams added "I'm very optimistic that if another Nathan Tyson became available we would be able to go and get him now."
Ian Blacklidge a Wycombe supporter since 1970 and Southern Area Chair of the Football Supporters Federation commented to BBC Three Counties Radio after the vote "It's sad we have ever got to this stage. If they had put safeguards in earlier to try and actually stem the financial mistakes and losses, we wouldn't have got to the situation at the EGM. I know there was a vote in favour but I think most of those who voted in favour did so with a heavy heart and felt, in the nicest possible way, they had a gun pulled to their heads because of the financial mess that we are in." Blacklidge added "I don't think people were enthusiastic about the vote. A lot of members thought we would go into administration if we didn't do this. That's a mute point with a lot of people because our assets still exceed our liabilities, not by much, but some thought this was scare tactics. I think it will take a little while for the wounds to heal. I hope they do but I think it will take a long time."
Neither of Wanderers' supporters groups chose to become involved in the debate prior to the vote and had not commented on the outcome of the EGM as the first day of the 2004/2005 approached. However, Chairboys on the Net understands that individuals from the groups were approached by a major sponsor of the Club prior to the vote with a view of persuading them that finance would be made available on the playing side should the Club convert to one limited by a Share capital.
Meanwhile, the Founders Trust being set-up as a voice for the former members of the Football Club has got the wheels moving on that organisation by issuing a press statement. Members of the former Limited by Guarantee company will automatically become a Founder Shareholder and be invited to become a member of the Founders Trust. An elected representative from the Founders Trust Board will be entitled to sit on the Board of the PLC. Nigel Rowland, invited by the Football Club Board to become an 'interim Director' of the Founders Trust said in the statement "The board should be representative of the entire membership and would ask no matter what your position on the initial vote that you consider putting yourselves forward for election to the Trust's Board." Ironically, it was Rowland who unsuccessfully stood for election to the Football Club Board at the October 2003 AGM, commenting to the press at the time. "I think our constitution is sacrosanct. The only reason I can stand is because of our constitution. If I was elected, as long as I was there, I would be an ally of the constitution." He added at the AGM "The most important thing I can bring to the Club is the voice of reason and reconciliation."
Independent from the Founders Trust will be a regular Supporters' Trust as proposed back in April 2004. The Working Party for this Trust is preparing for a launch proper, probably in late August. They said in a statement "A Supporters' Trust would be an appropriate vehicle for supporters to hold a collective shareholding in a manner that is most conducive to influencing the decisions of the board of the new company." The Supporters Trust will be entitled to an elected representative on the PLC Board should they commit to purchasing £100,000 worth of shares. The money will be raised in the main by member subscription but could be financed in the short term by a loan.
Most Wanderers supporters will now be waiting to see what difference it makes to on the field matters with the ball very much in the new Board's court following their constant angling for change over the past six or seven years. The PLC Board will initially be made of Ivor Beeks and Brian Kane who between them will most likely collectively hold a 50% stake in the Club. It's understood they will be joined by Steve Hayes from Club sponsors loans.co.uk. Hayes has been involved with the Club for close to ten years in one form or another. Chairboys on the Net can also reveal that the Board have been in discussions with a former Director of a Premiership club who has expertise in the Consumer market. The names of the new investors will be revealed when the financial promotion to raise a minumum figure of £750,000 closes on 23rd August.
See the story unfold on chairboys.co.uk
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