|PLC PROPOSALS - FOR AND AGAINST
(Monday 6th July 2009)
With the future of the Club set to be voted upon on Monday 6th July, both sides of the arguements were given press coverage through letters published in the Bucks Free Press on Friday 3rd July. We reproduce both letters in full.
Wycombe Wanderers Managing Director and London Wasps owner
Over the last couple of weeks, you will have read a lot about the offer I have made for ownership of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club. The timing of it has certainly prompted much passion and debate.
I felt strongly that it was important not to have any distractions during the season, and not announce information until the season had finished. I'm not sure if there is ever a good time to go through this process, and I know the timescales have been shorter than any of us would have liked. I would thank everyone who has worked so hard over the last few weeks, especially the Trust board.
Understandably, there has been a lot of commentary about the level of debt. A recent report from Deloitte's showed the average League One team loses £800,000 per year. We have spent five years getting ready for League One football, and it took much longer than expected. Many people feel that football clubs shoudl run on a break even basis, and I can see that point of view completely. However, with literally a handful of clubs achieving this it has never been harder. But ultimately it's what I want for this football club, or at least to get close.
A move away from Adams Park to a new community stadium would greatly help with this. For the ambitious Wycombe Wanderers supporter, this represents a much better option than if we dramatically cut our finances to break even now, and realistically saw ourselves tumble down the leagues. People have said that any move is only for the financial benefit of me personally, or for London Wasps. I can assure you that if the figures on a new stadium do not work for Wycombe Wanderers, then this football club will not be moving. Whatever anyone thinks I am a supporter of Wycombe Wanderers first and foremost, I enjoy rugby and can see huge benefits for the two clubs working together but I do not want to see Wanderers as the poor relation.
Looking forward, I would like to spend much more time working with the Supporters Trust. I am committed to making sure the Trsust have sight of stadium proposals. They will be able to see if any stadium proposal makes sense for Wycombe Wanderers - you won't have to take my word for it. Nobody wants to see 5,000 fans rattling around in a 20,000 stadium, including me. I do believe that we can, and will, improve our gates; just having better access will help. I also have no wish to ignore the history or heritage of this club; but we have to move forward.
If I am given support on the 6th of July I will look forward to opening up better lines of communication with the Supporters Trust and supporters in general.
I would like to thank everyone who has shown me support, particularly over the last week. I learnt years ago that you can't please all the people all of the time, but I will continue to try and please as many as I can, as often as possible. The Chairman and the Board are committed to delivering success and sustainability, and are excited about the future especially as there are so many good things happening at the club which rarely receive the credit they deserve.
I would ask you to join with us at what could be the start of an exciting new chapter in our history. I believe that by working together we can make Wycombe Wanderers successful.
Founder and Ordinary shareholder
I write as both a Founder and Ordinary Shareholder in Wycombe Wanderers Football Club PLC and a previous Chairman of Wycombe Wanderers Trust. I have read in detail the material from the Club regarding the proposed changes to be voted on 6th July and I have attended both the Club's and the Trust's Information meetings. I remain deeply concerned by the proposals because I do not believe that the following questions have been answered:
1) In the 5 years since the conversion to a PLC, Mr. Hayes has been the driving force behind the spending decisions that caused the Club to accumulate debts of approximately £8 million and to establish a cost structure under which the operating costs are higher than the Club's income. How will the new structure, in which Mr. Hayes owns 100% of the voting shares, produce either increased revenues or reduced costs at the Club when he has failed to achieve this in the last 5 years?
2) As part of the process of conversion to a PLC, two of the current directors Mr. Beeks and Mr. Kane promised the then members that the Club would follow a plan to break-even. The PLC has never broken-even. Given that Mr. Beeks and Mr. Kane will continue to be directors after the proposed restructuring, how can shareholders have any confidence that the financial problems of the Club will be addressed?
3) Shareholders and supporters were continually assured at many meetings that the money being put into the Club by Mr. Hayes was "his money" and that there was no need to be concerned. The money was only Mr. Hayes money if it was a gift to the Club. Why is Mr. Hayes not gifting the money to the Club?
4) At the time of the conversion to a PLC, certain rights were assigned to the holders of the Founder Shares. These include the necessity to obtain a majority vote of Founder Shareholders to sell the Club's ground. The Club only owns its ground as the result of a gift of a previous benefactor, Mr. Frank Adams. Under these rights, the ground can be sold providing the Club can make a case that this is the sensible thing to do. Under the proposals, the need for such a vote by Founder Shareholders is removed. Why is it necessary to remove the need to make a case for why such a future sale is in the best interests of Wycombe Wanderers?
In summary, the threat of administration has been held out to persuade shareholders to vote for the changes. Ironically, the proposals do not remove the future likelihood of administration because the directors, who have created the current financial situation, remain in control. The things that are removed are security over the future of the ground and the influence of supporters over key decisions at the Club.
These proposals have little to recommend them and I shall vote against them.
Read the COTN summary of the proposals
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