|BOARD NARROWLY WIN VOTE
(Thursday 29th July 2004)
Wanderers members voted by a narrow margin to give formal approval for the reconstruction of the Club at the EGM on Thursday evening at Adams Park. The voting, overseen by the Electoral Reform Services, saw 430 of the 498 members take part with 335 (78%) voting in favour and 94 (22%) against and one paper spoilt. The vote required a 75% majority for approval. 235 members voted by post and 195 at the EGM. This means this was the last ever meeting of Wycombe Wanderers Football Club members with the structure to be replaced by a PLC limited by share capital.
The vote was eventually swung in favour of the Board after a number of placatory measures put forward by the Board at the meeting. Negative media coverage in the week leading up to the vote had seen several valid concerns raised by the membership and the Club had also received contact from a London Lawyer asking for assurances that the change was in the best interests of the Football Club and its members. Club Chairman was said to be unhappy with the reports and the legal challenge and responded by issuing a letter to all members a day before the meeting. A explanation of how the Founder Shareholders Trust would work was also provided to members on the night and in an incredible after thought, the 25% maximum shareholder was 'promised' to be added to the special rights of the Founder Shareholders.
In an additional piece of Club spin, a printed copy of an interview with Financial Director Rod Tomlin was also provided to members at the meeting. In the interview, Tomlin was questioned about why the Financial Promotion issued to prospective investors had not targetted any new money for the playing side. It included the response "Because the business plan is not specific in allocating funds for investment in the playing side of the business beyond Tony's current agreed budget (and he has not asked for more) we have had to portray the situation in the financial promotion in this way. However, we have a strong relationship with the bank and the brewery, who both understand and support what we are doing, and beyond taking a sensible approach towards the size of our interest bearing debt we are not under any obligation to reduce these commitments. "
A short period of explanatory questioning preceded the vote. Chris Wilkinson from George Davies Solicitors confirmed that the Founder Shareholders 'special rights' would only require a 'simple majority' (ie 51%) approval to be carried. This coming after Rod Tomlin had tried to portray to members at the EGM on 14th June that this was an approvement over the current 75% required for a 'special resolution'. Club Chairman Ivor Beeks confirmed that the Training Ground would not be protected in the 'special rights'. Again, this coming after there was strong indication that this would be considered following the 14th June meeting.
Speaking after the declaration of the vote Club Chairman Ivor Beeks stated "I've been down this road for some weeks, along with my colleagues and at times it has been difficult and hard but we wanted to be where we are this evening thanks to all of you who voted 'yes'. My personal thanks, we won't let you down." The Chairman added "Those of you who said 'no' I really hope you come along with us now because we are on a mission. Thank you for coming out in such numbers but above all thanking you for saying 'yes'."
Prior to the meeting the scheme had got a 100% backing from the Club's major creditors and has also received prior approval from the Football Association, Football League and the Inland Revenue. A Court action to sanction the transfer has been provisionally set for Friday 6th August and a first meeting of the Founder Shareholders Trust is promised in the near future.
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