The Wrexham Take-Over Hits The Buffers Again
With a team that is top of the table, a new manager that has just won the Manager Of The Month award for his division and a winnable FA Cup tie coming up in a couple of weeks, these should be happy times for the supporters of Wrexham Football Club. As regular readers will be aware, however, very little at The Racecourse Ground is as it seems and the proposed take-over of the club by the Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) has now hit the buffers again over clauses relating to liability for outstanding debts, which are being treated so seriously by the Football Association and the Football Conference that, once again, the WST take-over of the club might not go through. It is a story that is becoming wearyingly predictable, with further – yet again unsubstantiated – allegations being made against the club’s support which would be suitable for a libel writ were they made against a specific, named individual.
That such accusations should be being made yet again is hardly surprising. Accusations of death threats have been made against Wrexham supporters before, although, if any of these were passed to the police, no-one has ever been charged over accusations that have been made before repeatedly and very publicly. This, however, is a side-show in comparison with a further delay in the proposed take-over of the club by its supporters trust. The delay relates to contingent liability payments – in other words, the matter of who is legally responsible for any debts from the former administration which haven’t come to light as the result of the due diligence process. An FA statement last Friday (28th October) stated that, “The WST has provided the FA with information on which we have raised queries and they continue to co-operate in relation to meeting the requirements to transfer membership”. The WST has been running the club “under licence” (without having taken legal ownership of the club) for the last six weeks, and over this time it has continued its success on the pitch under new manager Andy Morrell.
The matter of liability for the debts of the club, however, remains an albatross around the neck of the club. It is understood that Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts, the current owners of the club, will take responsibility for any known liabilities from their period of ownership, but that they want unknown liabilities to be to indemnified on a limited basis. WST carried out extensive due diligence on the club’s accounts, but unknown liabilities would, of course, be considerably less likely to show in the club’s accounts. If, critics would argue, Moss and Roberts have nothing to hide, why would they be apparently willing to put the club’s future on the line over this matter? It could also be added that, considering how chaotic the finances of this particular club have been over the last few months or do, it would hardly be the greatest shock in the history of football maladministration if a catastrophic and currently unknown financial liability did turn up, at this of all clubs.
The WST is, therefore, stuck between a rock and a hard place. All business transactions have an element of gamble about them, but the buyers have a right to an understanding that the business that they are buying has at least a fighting chance of remaining solvent. The owners may counter this by saying that it is reflected in the fact that the selling price of this business is a solitary pound, but Wrexham FC is not just another business and that fact of the matter is that Moss and Roberts have a moral obligation towards whatever debts were run up in the name of the club on their watch, regardless of any other considerations. Who else’s responsibility could any such debts conceivably be?
Does the WST then agree to this latest act of brinkmanship on the part of Moss and Roberts, or does it continue to hold out for the deal that the available evidence would seem to indicate they were led to believe they would get? The stakes – the existence of this football club – could not be higher, and the trust should think very carefully about how far they should push the clubs current owners on this matter. There has been nothing to suggest, however, that WST doesn’t remain the only option to end Wrexham’s years of torment and move it forward to a sustainable future. Meanwhile, we will keenly await any police investigation into the “threats” that have been alleged against supporters of the club. We trust that these have been reported to the police, and that these claims will duly be followed up. Such allegations are very serious ones, and should be treated as such.
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