|IBE 'SELL-ON' CLEARS £1.3M DEBT
(Monday 5th December 2016)
News that an estimated £1.3m debt to former owner Steve Hayes had been paid off, was by far the biggest talking point following the Trust AGM on Thursday 30th November 2016. Trust members heard confirmation that the Club had received the 'sell-on' fee from Liverpool for the sale of Jordon Ibe to Bournemouth and the cash windfall had been used to pay off the money owed to Hayes in full. While that story grabbed the headlines, other news saw the draft Football Club accounts for the 2015/16 season show a profit of £472,000 - the second successive season the Football Club has made a surplus.
Trust Chairman Trevor Stroud broke the news regarding the Ibe money to a 200 strong attendance at the AGM held at Adams Park. Due to non-disclosure agreements between the Clubs, the exact figure was not stated. Stroud said: "The sum received is substantial; the only thing is I can’t tell you how much [laughter]. However, what I can announce is that if you spot a very happy man sitting at the back of the room, that is because last Friday afternoon (25th November 2016), we cleared our debt to Steve Hayes [applause]."
The outstanding debt to Steve Hayes, agreed at the time of the Trust take over in 2012 and managed by subsidary company Frank Adams Legacy Limited, is understood to have been in the region of £1.3m at the time of the AGM. The original agreement is also believed to have included a clause that any 'sell-on' fees from players sold during Hayes' time as owner would be prioritised to pay off any outstanding debt. In thanking Hayes for making sure that negotations went smoothly, Stroud also revealed that the former owner had made 'a very generous donation' to the Trust as a result of the debt being cleared. Stroud added: "We did not ask for [the donation], but it was offered and we thought it would be impolite to refuse [laughter]."
Stroud also revealed that there was a balance of cash left after using the Ibe money to pay off the Hayes debt but emphasised that this would not mean a spending spree, adding: "All it does is put another couple of foundation stones in place to support the building of a stable and sustainably football club. However, we must be realistic; there is a lot of external money coming into, not only the [Football League], but also the [Conference National]. We just have to look at the likes of Bristol Rovers, Morecambe, Accrington, Northampton and Notts County [in the Football League], plus Forest Green and Eastleigh [in the Conference]." Stroud said the Trust Board were looking at various options 'in moving the Football Club forward' and had reached a conclusion that a special members meeting would be arranged to provide an update. He concluded his report by saying: "There has been a lot of hard work, considerable good fortune and a lot of invaluable support from many people to get us where we are today. But we cannot continue to rely on this and we have to decide where the future of this historic football club lies and some key, and probably tough, decisions will have to be made.”
The profit of £472,000 for 2015/16 comes on the back of a £36,500 profit for the 2014/15 season and follows 13 previous consecutive seasons of losses that totalled more than £11m, including £6.5m during the eight years under PLC control.No further breakdown is provided in the Trust accounts but the increased profit for the Football Club has been boosted by an estimated £350,000 windfall from the FA Cup run that ended in a Third Round replay defeat to Aston Villa, plus an a currently ‘undisclosed’ transfer fee for Matt Ingram’s January 2016 move to QPR. However, any income to Wycombe from Ibe's ‘sell-on’ is not included in the 2015/16 accounts, as the reported £5m move happened after the accounting period.
For those 'seeking a greater understanding of the accounts (or anything financial)', an informal meeting has been arranged for Thursday 8th December in 'Monty's' bar at Adams Park between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.
Club Chairman Andrew Howard revealed later at the meeting during a Question & Answer session that the negotiations with Liverpool had been the 'worse experience' he'd ever had and claimed that the Premier League Club had used their 'big boy' status in an attempt to delay payment. Howard said: "Up until 10 days ago we had no idea if the Jordon Ibe money was coming in. One minute it was, one minute it wasn’t. It has been on and off since June . It was probably one of the most horrendously unprofessional [bad situations] I’ve ever been involved with in all my business time." The Wanderers Chairman said that the 'big boys' had too much power in these type of situations, adding: "It is how good you are playing with the system and next time we will be a lot better. Contractually there are lines that can go in that can make sure it will never happen again."
The meeting was also used as a means to the push the recently launched '500 Club' - a scheme with the aim to raise £75,000 from 500 fans donating £150 each - the money raised would be used by Gareth Ainsworth in the January 2017 transfer window to add to an already tight playing budget. Howard commented: "If enough of you [join the scheme], it could be the difference between having two players at this club. Look at what Younaris and Saunders did for us [in 2015]."
More information on the scheme available at www.500wanderers.co.uk
The formal business at the AGM saw current Secretary Colin Treacher stand down from his position after five years of service. His place on the Trust Board was taken by Wanderers Season Ticket holder and former Commercial Services Manager for the BBC, Lawrie Read. Current Directors Alan Cecil, David Roberton and David Smith were re-elected to the Board without opposition having retired by rotation and then offering themselves for re-election.
Trust membership at the time of the AGM stood at just over 1,100, an all-time high and an increase of more than 60 compared to the same time the previous season.
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