Skeletons In The Closet & Brinkmanship At Wrexham
At least, some may choose to reflect, the team is still winning. Wrexham went to Grimsby Town yesterday and came returned with a comfortable 3-1, which left them at the top of the Blue Square Premier on goal difference from second placed Gateshead with a quarter of the season now played. This result was, however, little comfort at the end of another week which has seen tumult behind the scenes at the club and the departure of a manager who was starting to come of age in his position. As these things always seem to pan out with Wrexham, it was a week that left a sour taste in the mouth and more questions than answers at The Racecourse Ground.
That Dean Saunders should have left Wrexham for Doncaster Rovers is, perhaps, no great surprise. Even if we are to set the problems that the club has been through of late to one side for a moment, a job offer from the Championship whilst managing a club in the Blue Square Premier is always likely to cause a manager to think twice about where his future might lay. Some have sought to spin the departure of Saunders as being a reaction to the email leaked several weeks ago which seemed to indicate a possibility of a degree of fractiousness between the Wrexham Supporters Trust board and the manager, but it seems unlikely that this would have been the driving factor behind his decision to leave the club.
Notwithstanding the fact that the offer put to Saunders came from a club three divisions above the level at which he was already, we should bear in mind that football can be a ruthlessly pragmatic business. If Saunders was – as has been suggested elsewhere – on a comfortable contract at Wrexham, it seems unlikely that he would have left the club over what some may paint as a matter of principle. The most obvious answer to the question of why he left – that Doncaster Rovers are in the Championship and Wrexham aren’t – seems the most plausible. Veteran striker Andy Morrell has taken over as Wrexham’s player-manager, and Saturday’s result would seem to indicate that his appointment might turn out to be a canny one.
More troubling than this is an ongoing take-over saga that has now been dragged out for such a long time that it is starting to feel as if whatever skeletons may be in the club’s closet may have been larger than at first thought. A directors’ statement released on Friday set a deadline of the close of business on Monday the twenty-sixth of September for a non-refundable deposit to be paid by the WST in order to “to allow negotiations to continue” regarding purchasing the club. “Some of the pre-agreed points have changed”, said the statement, “with some changes appearing to be totally unreasonable and unacceptable”, but what are these “points” which are so unreasonable that Moss and Roberts cannot possibly agree to them?
The WST statement, released later on Friday afternoon, stated that “the Board of WST has offered a secured loan to the club directors to support the cash flow position of the club”, which is understandable, perhaps, considering that the club has become something of a black hole for money over the last few months or so. The matter of the “pre-agreed points” which are “unreasonable”, however, may have remained unanswerable for a while, but with this being Wrexham, it wasn’t long before a story began to emerge which may begin to shed a little light upon why the take-over talks have been protracted to the extent to which they have been.
Whatever the hold-ups to the take-over process may be, the answer could lay in the withdrawal of the Crusaders RFLC from rugby league’s Super League last month. It has been reported that there have been issues relating to commercial deals between Crusaders RFLC and Wrexham FC which may be adding burdens to the cash-flow predictions for the club in the foreseeable future. The club’s official statement states that “the cash flow of the business is still poor”, and this is with crowds having risen on account of the team’s good start to the season on the pitch. The fundamental truth – that the WST should not sign anything until due diligence is completed in full – remains the same, because the trust has an obligation not to throw money that has been raised through huge amounts of fund-raising into a black hole caused by those that are running the club at present.
It feels as if the Wrexham Supporters Trust is being forced into a Catch-22 situation with regard to the take-over of this club. It barely seems necessary to even have to state that the WST are no tyre-kickers. It still feels as if there is a game of brinkmanship going on at the moment and the WST cannot afford to lose their nerve at this stage. Moss has alternative options to offload the club, and if we have learnt one thing about him over the last few months it is that he seems to have few scruples over who he will be prepared to sell to. The complications that have emerged over the last couple of days have come about as a result of the decisions made by Moss in recent weeks and months, though, but with the feeling growing amongst the club’s supporters that they were blackmailed into paying the Football Conference’s bond money on the eve of the start of the new season, it seems likely that the anger that raised its head last season at The Racecourse Ground may well start to rear its head again.
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