Last weekend on BBC Radio Five Lives Non-League Show, the owner of what is left of Northwich Victoria Football Club, Jim Rushe, made a guest appearance full of claims that he was “more determined than ever” to return his club back to the town and making typically disrespectful comments regarding the Northwich Victoria Supporters Trusts decision to break away from his discredited organisation and start their own club from the start of next season. There was, however, one small event in his life which somehow managed to slip his mind over the course of his interview. On the fifteenth of November at Wigan County Court, on the same day that supporters of the club were voting to form their own club from the start of next season, Jim Rushe was declared bankrupt.
The petition was not one that he raised himself. Rushes bankruptcy petition came from the Burton-based Else Solicitors, who had acted as the clubs legal advisers until earlier this year. The firm had been acting for the club as recently as January of this year, when they issued a public statement for the club with regard to its eviction from The Victoria Stadium, and the unanswered question regarding this is that of, if this bankruptcy order is a result of their involvement with the club, why was it made against Rushe personally? If the debts for legal expenses had come about as a result of Northwich Victorias unpaid legal fees, we might have presumed that these debts would have been in the name of the club rather than any named individual. Whether these debts were a result of a personal guarantee made on behalf of the club or as a result of something else is not known.
Regardless of any plans that Rushe may have had for the future of the club, one thing is for sure. He now fails the Football Associations Owners & Directors Test. His bankruptcy is obviously an “insolvency event” as defined by the FAs rules on the subject, and this is what the authorities have to say about what happens in the event of a director failing the test:
3.2 Notification of Director becoming subject to a Disqualifying Condition.
3.2.1 Upon the happening of an event that results in a Director becoming subject to any Disqualifying Condition(s) contained in a submitted Declaration, or that results in a change to any other information contained in the Declaration;
• the Director in respect of whom the Declaration was submitted shall immediately give full written particulars thereof to his Club; and
• the Club shall thereupon immediately give such particulars to The Association.
3.2.2 Upon The Association becoming aware by virtue of the circumstances given in above, or by any other means, that a person is subject to a Disqualifying Condition, The Association will:
• issue the Instruction to the person that he is disqualified, and requiring him to resign as a Director within 7 days of the Notice;
• issue the Instruction to the Club that, in default of the Director’s resignation, it shall procure the removal of the Director from that position within 28 days of the Notice.
At the time of writing, there is no official announcement on the FAs website which makes any reference to this, but another individual who may be taking an interest in how Jim Rushe deals with those with whom he does business may well be Graham Bean of Football Factors (in administration), who has been advising Rushe with regard to fighting the FAs decision over Flixton. Somebody seems to have got under the skin of Bean, who has now protected his Twitter account so that only his followers – seventy-five of them a the time of writing – can see what he has to say, but shortly before this happened he did manage another gem:
The age old adage -supporters support clubs, directors and owners run them. True supporters remain loyal to their club no matter what.
This coming, of course, from a former Football Association Head of Compliance and chair of the Football Supporters Association, is a striking irony. Such attitudes would not be particularly welcome, we suspect, within its successor organisation the FSF these days. After, all the FSF jointly hosted their annual conference this year with Supporters Direct, who have been assisting the Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust for some time now, and who even had staff at the meeting last week at which they voted to break away and form a new club of their own. The supporters of AFC Wimbledon, Exeter City, AFC Telford United, AFC Liverpool, AFC Croydon Athletic, Cambridge City, Chester FC, Enfield Town, FC United of Manchester, Fisher, Hendon, Lewes, Newport (IOW), Runcorn Linnets, Scarborough Athletic, Wrexham and Wycombe Wanderers may also beg to differ with him.
Perhaps now would be a good time for Rushe to seek to hand Northwich Victoria over to its supporters trust, but it is doubtful whether they would want anything to do it with it in its current condition. The trust is currently understood to be in negotiation with three Cheshire clubs with a view to a ground-share, and a lively debate is currently taking place on the subject of what name the new club should take as we speak. For the supporters of this club, Jim Rushe is already a relic of the past. It should now only be a matter of time before Rushe himself is removed from the game altogether.
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