(Friday 19th June 2009)
Woodlands Stand from players tunnelThe push to lift the 25% threshold on owning shares in Wycombe Wanderers Football Club PLC has come to the forefront again after a PLC led campaign published in the Bucks Free Press on Friday 19th June has revealed proposals for Club MD Steve Hayes to be become a near 100% shareholder in the Club. A presentation will be held at Adams Park on 24th June to outline the proposals and a PLC EGM has since been called for Monday 6th July.

In an official statement from the Club, Hayes says, "I have always made it clear that decisions had to be made about my financial input at the end of season' 2008-09. Under the existing circumstances, I cannot continue making money available as I have in the past. I believe that my proposal is the only solution for moving the club forward."

The 25% restriction was imposed when the PLC was created from the old Football Club in July 2004. The vision then by the instigators of the conversion, led by Club Chairman Ivor Beeks and Vice Chairman Brian Kane, was to have several significant investors and thus spread the ownership of the Club. However, the PLC conversion failed to attract the variety and level of investment expected and it was only the arrival of Steve Hayes on the PLC board in August 2004 that proved a lifeline for the PLC sympathisers. The then boss of loans.co.uk agreed to take £250,000 worth of shares, matched by Mr Beeks and Mr Kane. A further £250,000 came from lesser shareholders but including a £100,000 shareholding from the then newly formed Wycombe Wanderers Supporters Trust.

Although Hayes orginally said he was 'not bothered' whether he owned 25% or more of the shareholding, hints to change the restriction came via a Bucks Free Press article back in November 2008, when the Wanderers MD said the Supporters Trust were 'dragging their feet' on the matter. The Trust went on to deny the accusation and asked for the PLC to take the intiative and make their own proposals. The outline of the proposals released on 19th June say that Hayes has 'offered to write off much of the debt in return for acquiring the remainder of the shares'. Elsewhere in the official statement, it says 'He [Hayes] has offered a package of improved benefits to the Supporters Trust in return'.

In order for the 25% restriction to be removed an EGM of the PLC would need to be called in order to change the Articles of Association. Such a vote would require a 75% majority of those voting, thus approval would be required from Mssrs Beeks and Kane as they hold 50% of the shares between them. More importantly, the 25% ruling is one of the 'enshrined rights' that need approval from the Founder Shareholders. Of the original 500 Foundershares issued at the time of the PLC conversion, around 150 of these have been passed to the Supporters Trust due to lapsed Season Ticket renewal. The Supporters Trust amongst its 450 plus strong membership, also have close to 200 Foundershare holders in their own right.

Ivor Beeks went on to add support to the proposals, saying "I'm putting my shares on the table and not expecting anything for it. I just want to see the Club survive and move onto the next platform.". He added, ""I'm passionate about this Club and I wouldn't put my name to anything if I thought it was detrimental to the club. We are trying. to go to the next platform to make sure the survival of the Club is secure and that the heritage is still protected.". And he has confidence in Hayes, concluding "The guy has made one hell of a commitment over the last five years. He's shown his colours by the money and the time he's given the club and by the way he talks to people and his openness. Without him I think we may have gone into liquidation and be in the Conference or below. Supporters have got to look at what's he's prepared and put together. It is a good deal for the Club and it protects our future."

Shortly after the publication of the story, The Supporters Trust have issued a statement that read "In view of recent developments and the announcements regarding proposals for the future control and ownership of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club, Ian Mather and David McGee, the two Trust appointed PLC Directors, yesterday morning (Thursday 18th June 2009), both resigned with immediate effect as directors of Wycombe Wanderers PLC. The resignations were submitted due to the conflict of interest between David and Ianís roles as directors of Wycombe Wanderers Trust and of Wycombe Wanderers PLC.". Another statement added "The proposals first outlined to the Trust Board on 2nd June need to be clearly evaluated. These proposals are far-reaching and 122 years of history should not be undone within a few days. The Trust Board is still considering these proposals and will hold an information meeting on 25th June for Trust members and Founder shareholders. At this meeting, the pros and cons of the proposals will be presented and an opportunity given for debate. This will then give members the opportunity to make an informed choice as to whether or not they should support or reject the proposals in a vote on how the Trust shares should be voted at the EGM."

How the debt has risen since the formation of the PLC.
August 2004 - £2.2m (no loan notes)
June 2005 - £2.2m (including £395K in loan notes to Steve Hayes)
June 2006 - £4.6m (including £2.9m in loan notes to Steve Hayes)
June 2007 - £5.7m (including £4.1m in loan notes to Steve Hayes)
June 2008 - £7.2m (including £5.8m in loan notes to Steve Hayes)

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Related links
Supporters Trust
19 June 2009
Trust Directors resign from PLC
Bucks Free Press
19 June 2009
Chairman gives Hayes bid the thumbs up
Bucks Free Press
19 June 2009
Back Hayes or he will stop funding club
Bucks Free Press
Nov 2008
Hayes - Let me own the Club
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Nov 2008
Comment on report in BFP
Supporters Trust
Nov 2008
Comment on 25% safeguard
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Feb 2007
PLC AGM hints for change to 25% ruling
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September 2005
New investors predicted
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June 2005
"Don't worry about the budget" - Steve Hayes
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April 2005
Steve Hayes to become Club MD
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July 2004
Board win PLC vote

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