Wednesday Weakness

By on Nov 22, 2010 in English League Football, Finance, Latest | 13 comments

Now that Sheffield Wednesday’s takeover is imminent, it is instructive to look in detail at some aspects of the tale. There is no doubt that the vast majority of the cast have been playing games of some sort while the club has sunk further into the financial mire. Chief Executive Nick Parker may have been shaking with anger at some of the when he stood outside London’s High Court last Wednesday. But even he played a game or two in his time.

People such as former director and friend of the current board Mick Wright are doing their best to let the games continue, now that the threat of administration has been averted for yet another bit. And there was a curious little background twist a couple of weeks ago, shortly after the consortium fronted by former Wednesday player/manager/you-name-it Chris Turner began to unravel. The Sheffield Wednesday Shareholders Association had an idea. And on November 2nd they “urgently” proposed the following “solution” to Wednesday’s woes:

“We would like to call on all four major shareholders of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club (Wednesdayite, Keith Addy, Geoff Hulley and Dave Allen) to pool their shareholding and make these available to any investor approved by the Bank and prepared to pay a minimum of £600,000 to HMRC.”

£600,000 was the money being petitioned for by the tax authorities in those long-ago, happier times. And as well as ridding the club of that burden, the Shareholders Association (SA) claimed a number of advantages for its scheme, with Secretary Nigel Short quotably calling it a “win-win for all parties.”

Wednesdayite, Sheffield Wednesday’s Supporters Trust, was quick to respond, within hours promising to undertake the logistically-mammoth task of “preparing for a full ballot of its members on the sale of its shareholding immediately.” And it offered “its full support to the suggestion “that the four major shareholders in SWFC Plc (in conjunction with a further 14% of individual shareholders) should offer their shares in the club, in return for the settlement of at least the outstanding HMRC debt.”

SA’s idea was a good one. Wednesdayite’s immediate support was a good move. But anyone good at those newspaper puzzles where you have to ring the “ten differences between these two pictures” will have done a double-take. The “14% of individual shareholders” were not mentioned in the SA’s initiative. They were tucked away in the extensive list of scheme advantages, with any prospective investor given the “opportunity to purchase shares from shareholders who committed to our prior scheme to co-ordinate shares.”

This was far more than semantics. The Shareholders’ Association was effectively asking everyone to make a brave gesture and take a financial hit. Everyone else, that is. “Their” shareholders could sell, or not, at a later date, if they wished, or didn’t. The SA was also, effectively, valuing the club at £1.5m, if it thought £600,000 could “buy” 40% of it. But there was no suggestion that “their” shareholders should accept such a low bid – and when a club with similar sized-support, albeit a Premier League one, has been sold for TWENTY-EIGHT times that amount while I’ve been typing this, £1.5m is low. So, why were they so keen to give away Wednesdayite’s shareholding?

Wednesdayite has never been universally popular among Wednesday fans. To this very day (November 19th), they are taking stick from individual supporters on their own website for being “a pointless organisation… while our club has struggled on for over a decade.”

And it still suffers the fallout from its predecessor, the Owls Trust, supporting Ken Bates in 2005 over… well… the details aren’t key, they supported Bates. So did the Shareholders’ Association just want to be the sole small shareholders’ voice at the club? Or, was the whole thing was an accidental oversight or a misprint? I’m desperately hoping it’s the latter. Because such division would be a disappointing microcosm of what has gone so wrong at Sheffield Wednesday this century – all power struggle and hidden agenda – and why their takeover has been “imminent” for so long, and why their demise might genuinely be imminent.

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    13 Comments

  1. Its hugely innacurate.

    The 14% of shareholders committed to selling their shares for the same price as those negotiated by the directors for their own shares. That would still apply.

    Its actually a non-story.

    Nigel Short (Shareholders Association)

    November 22, 2010

  2. And you my friend are a non-entity. It’s time for you and the rest of the self righteous supporters groups to get out of this club. Your superiority complex has done nothing but create divisions among our fanbase.
    Surely it’s time for a “Statement From Wednesdayite”, we haven’t had one for nearly a week now.

    David Wood

    November 22, 2010

  3. Nigel,

    I am relieved to hear that. Exactly what I wanted to hear, in fact.

    So, for clarification, whatever the 14% sell for, would go towards the club’s debts in the same way as Wednesdayite’s? And for the same price?

    Mark Murphy

    November 22, 2010

  4. An article full of innacuracies that reeks of agenda.

    Tony Johns

    November 22, 2010

  5. Re : David Wood (for brains)

    Personally I would be extremely embarrassed to have been led down the wrong path for so many years by someone who was pursuing his own selfish interests. You clearly don’t realise that all the vitriol against the likes of Wednesdayite was initially to further the ends of a certain individual and was based on lies and misrepresentations.

    Having been played so thoroughly for such a long period of time, I think we can reject your views as those of someone unable to form logical opinions for himself and who responds to the pulling of his emotive levers with reasoning that may be superficial or even downright false.

    The house is burning down around us and all you can do is whinge about who does what in the rescue attempt.

    Dear me.

    Dave Allen Partridge

    November 22, 2010

  6. Am I in irony hell? “Hugely innacurate”, “full of innacuracies” ??

    Seriously, though, my “agenda” is simply to find out why the two descriptions of the SA initiative differed. And I’m desperately hopeful that there is an innocent explanation and that the idea is as good as it looked at first. Hopefully, Nigel will be able to put my mind at rest.

    Mark Murphy

    November 22, 2010

  7. Nothing like missing the point is there.

    ‘the details aren’t key’

    Says it all really

    GGGGranville

    November 22, 2010

  8. GGGGranville,

    That was a flippant point about Ken Bates. Support for him is always going to upset people, regardless of the “details.”

    Mark Murphy

    November 22, 2010

  9. Matthew and Nigel,

    Help me out here? I heard that Dave Allen is prepared to give away his shares… Is this true for rest of board or do they also require 3p/share. If they require nothing, why would SA expect 3p per share?

    Ricardo Maximus

    November 22, 2010

  10. The article (and the SA proposal) is irrelevant now as the clubs position is far worse than was realised at the time the suggestion was made. For example the club had still not announced the second hearing set for Dec 1st at that point.

    The suggestion wasn’t agenda driven – it was aimed at uniting the shareholding held by 4 shareholders in order to save the club from admin. A shareholding that would have been essentially worthless had admin happened last week.

    It provided a genuine short term solution that would have kept us out of court for what we believed would have been another 2 months – to allow for takeover/investment talks to continue.

    The vast majority of all shareholding will be largely worthless regardless of whether admin or a share issue is made – the shareholders of this company have kept this club afloat in the past (the 1970s most recently) and have all seen massive devaluations – and we dont think theres anything wrong with asking those responsible to do the same.

    Nigel Short (Shareholders Association)

    November 22, 2010

  11. Nigel,

    Yes, you are right. A weekend has proven a long time in Wednesday politics (I wrote the article on Friday, and its my fault it didn’t come out until today). My concerns, frankly, no longer matter. And, presumably, the club’s financial situation regresses by the day.

    As I said, the proposal was good and Wednesdayite’s quick response was equally good. If other protagonists can be as constructive before Wednesday week, there’s hope for the club.

    Thanks for taking the time out to reply, it is appreciated. And good luck.

    Mark Murphy

    November 22, 2010

  12. No worries Mark

    Please feel free to contact me in the future if you want to check anything out.

    All the best (and UTO)

    Nigel Short (Shareholders Association)

    November 22, 2010

  13. Mr Partridge

    That certain individual put thousands of pounds of his own money into our club. Under his tenure we were reducing the debt and were a stable mid table championship club. How much did Strafford spend of his own money?
    Why are all the people asscociated with the club and all the fans groups opposing the one deal that could see us debt free by the end of the week? Instead they are supporting a consortium led by a bigot who wants to keep the current board in place.
    Is your name Strafford by the way as you certainly sound like him. Do you also look like a weeble?

    David Wood

    November 24, 2010

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