It has been another strange, confusing week at Wrexham Football Club. The last time we reported on what has been going on there, it seemed as if a deal had been done and that the Wrexham Supporters Trust were at the point of losing out in their bid to take over the running of the club. While one potential bidder – although whether there was anything substantial behind her intention to bid for the club had become more and more questionable as the weeks had progressed – Stephanie Booth, had all but withdrawn from the process, but a deal had, it seemed, been reached between the club’s owners, Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts, and a consortium led by Jon Harris to complete the purchase of the club.
Nothing at Wrexham, however, it was it seems for long and we noted last week that the battle for the custodianship of the club ddidn’t end with the apparent Harris take-over, especially since it still contained the involvement of Colin Poole, whose directorship ban and the fact that he had been struck off as a solicitor might, you would have thought, have made him a curious choice to act as a “consultant” to the new owner. Was Poole putting money into the club? If so, how much? Were we to believe that, if he was, that he was to have no say whatsoever in the running of the club under the ownership of Harris? These were questions that seemed to stretch the credibility of claims made by Harris in a brief flurry of interviews with the press at the start of last week to the absolute limit.
The WST went ahead with their meeting regarding the future ownership of the club on Tuesday night, even though Monday’s announcement may have dented the optimism of those hoping to see the supporters trust take ownership of the club. Dave Boyle, the Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, the former Welsh international Barry Horne, Jules Spencer, a director at FC United of Manchester, Kevin Jaquiss, a specialist lawyer with Manchester-based firm Cobbetts and Mark Howell, a director of Chester FC, gave a powerful case for the importance of not giving up on the Trust’s bid on account of the announcement made the day before. There remain reservations amongst some over whether the Trust has the means to be able to fund the club’s losses should they manage to take control, but an alternative vision has now been presented, clearly, concisely and with proof that it can work, to the trust’s membership.
The following evening, BBC Wales pitched in with a primer for viewers that might not have been familiar with the situation at the club through their current affairs show, Week In Week Out. You can judge for yourselves what sort of a job the programme made of explaining the soap opera-like goings-on at the club over the last few months, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to comment that, in general, it was a mixed bag. The extent to which there has been more than an element of farce in the way that the club has been managed this season came through with more or less every shot, and it was almost reassuring to see such an experienced and respected name as The Guardian’s David Conn proffering his assessment of what has been going on there. On the other hand, however, Geoff Moss was allowed to make comments about sections of the club’s support that have, thus far, been largely unsubstantiated without being challenged, and this aspect of the programme, whilst not entirely unexpected, were something of a disappointment.
That the take-over of the wasn’t yet a done deal, however, was something that had an air of inevitability about it, thanks in no small part to the involvement of the Dismal Jimmies. The Dismal Jimmy had been a fanzine produced by supporters of the club during the reign of Alex Hamilton and Mark Guterman and their readiness for a very direct form of confrontation in the name of saving their club had always meant that they would be likely to return following the announcement made at the start of last week. Even they could hardly have hoped for the sort of start that they would have, after they turned up at Netley Hall, the palatial home of the Poole family on Saturday afternoon, though. Netley Hall was being used for a three-day long equestrian event, but Colin Poole ended up not being the main draw on display. This description of events on the Wrexham supporters forum Red Passion fills in further detail of what happened there, but these choice comments from his wife, Michelle, torpedoed Poole’s involvement in the Harris bid:
“They’re the men off the stupid website!”
“I said you should bankrupt them Colin!”
“Let that man-woman thing buy the club!”
Notwithstanding the grossly offensive nature of Mrs Poole’s final comment above – which was presumably made with reference to Stephanie Booth, and Booth has suggested that the police have been notified of this, although whether anything will come of this is a matter for debate – it is the other two that may – may – have led to a rapid change of events at the club over the last couple of days or so. It was reported this afternoon, again on Red Passion, that a member of the forum had received an email to be posted on the forum. It read as follows:
—–Original Message—–From: colin poole <*****@*******.com>
Date: Sat, 21 May 2011 15:05:51
Subject: press release immediate
I regret that due to the actions of a few misguided individuals who purport to be supporters of the club Mr Poole has indicated that he is not prepared to help me any further with trying to turn the fortunes of this club around.Mr Poole is a genuine football supporter and his help had been invaluable a few thugs may think this is a victory but this mindless minority have once again driven someone away from this club who had the experience and resolve to make a real difference.Without the help of people like Mr Poole this club will not survive but perhaps that is what these people really want.
In other words, whilst blaming the Dismal Jimmies that had turn up at Netley Hall on Saturday afternoon (and it is worth pointing out that there is nothing suggest that they acted illegally in attending a public event nor that they had acted “thuggishly”), Poole, on the surface at least, is out of the Harris bid for the club. There is, of course, the possibility that such a press release is merely a diversionary tactic (it seems odd that such a statement was not made through the club’s official website, which is, at the time of writing, staying silent on the subject), but what are the implications if he is? What Harris’ financial circumstances are remain unknown, but it seems unlikely that he has the money to pay to finance its losses. If Poole is no longer to be involved with this bid, who will be funding them? As ever, there are more questions than answers with every twist that this most peculiar of tales takes.
The Dismal Jimmies may well turn their attentions to Harris next. Presuming that they stay within the confines of the law, there is nothing wrong with this, and it seems inconceivable that anyone would get involved with Wrexham FC without knowing their propensity for direct action. Furthermore, not all direct action is illegal and not all direct action is thuggish. This, however, is not our main concern. If the ongoing saga at Wrexham FC proves nothing else, it proves that this ongoing idea that someone is going to step in and, purely from the goodness of their hearts, apply a sticking plaster that makes everything okay at the club is a fantasy. The WST remains the best placed bid for the long-term custodianship of Wrexham FC, and the supporters of the club still have the capability to make this a reality. Then, and only then, might the smoke and mirrors that currently hang over The Racecourse Ground start to lift.
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