All of quiet on the Western front at the moment. Since we last reported on the subject of Wrexham, things have been comparatively quiet. This, however, is “quiet” by the standards of Wrexham AFC, and this means that, by the standards of most over clubs, it has continued to be a busy time of statement, counter-statement, accusation and counter-accusation. At this stage, we wouldn’t expect anything less and the future of the club remains completely in the dark, and it is starting to feel as if the club’s owners are likely to frustrate any sale of the club until it knows whether it has been promoted into the Football League at the end of the season.
Two weeks ago, the Wrexham Supporters Trust laid out their plans for the club, even though their meeting was somewhat troubled by the fact that they were unable to answer every question that they were being asked. To the extent that they could answer the questions that they were being thrown at them from the floor, though, it seems that they made a reasonable job of stating their position. Unfortunately, though, their continuing lack of access to the clubs’ books means that they are still unable to exactly clarify exactly what form their bid for the club will take.
If only such discretion was possible from Stephanie Booth. Booth has, in spite of several claims that she will, in the interests of the bid, remain quiet, made several comments of a troubling nature regarding the finances of the club as they stand and generally given the impression of being something like pathologically unable to prevent herself – or somebody acting on her behalf – from keeping quiet on various different subjects. It has now reached the point at which it is nearly impossible to decipher what is true and what isn’t, and this apparent inability to keep quiet could yet derail any attempt to take the club over.
Initially, there was cause for cautious optimism that Booth and the Wrexham Supporters Trust could work together, with statements from both groups confirming that they would be working together to make a bid to purchase the club and The Racecourse Ground. Within a couple of days, however, Booth had posted on her Facebook page that the club is losing £85,000 per month (around £1m per year, and information that one can only believe that the club wouldn’t have wished to be made public) and this seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, as far as the club was concerned. They issued a terse statement, stating the following:
The Directors of Wrexham FC are disappointed by allegations made by Stephanie Booth that the Club is ‘days away from Administration’. These are totally without foundation. We consider these remarks to be very damaging to the business of Wrexham Football Club. In view of this, all negotiations concerning Stephanie Booth’s bid will be temporally suspended.
Now, there may have been a degree of temporary memory loss on the part of Moss, here. After all, he did say as long ago as the twenty-third of February that, ““If the fans are going to make a bid, it needs to be in the next seven days. There are bills and wages to pay and the fans need to step forward and save the club”. This may not be the same things as saying that administration is imminent, but it certainly seems to betray a degree of urgency on his part at that time and it’s difficult to believe that the club’s financial condition has improved since then. For Booth to make such a statement on her Facebook page, however, betrays an extraordinary degree of unprofessionalism on her part, regardless of one’s opinion of Geoff Moss.
Moreover, Booth’s Facebook page then posted a further statement from her, stating that a seven day notice winding up order has been issued against the club and that she had seen it. The problem with this is that there is certainly no such legal document. Ordinary protocol under the Insolvency Act 1986 requires a creditor to issue a Statutory Demand, which gives the defendant twenty-one days to either clear their debt or offer security against it (this page gives a reasonably clear overview of the legal process). At that point, the creditor may present a petition to wind up the company at the High Court in London (for companies of the size of the share capital of Wrexham FC) and advertise it in the London Gazette.
In the meantime, the club has been hit with a transfer embargo, and recent interviews with the team manager, Dean Saunders, have shown his increasing exasperation at what is going on behind the scenes at the club. It is likely that Wrexham FC is in serious financial difficulty – why would it be up for sale with such little interest apart from various vultures otherwise? – but how serious the situation may be is almost impossible to gauge. Is the club weeks away from a receiving a winding up order? If so, will this force it into administration? Neither of these are a given at present, but both could threaten the very existence of the club.
At times, the situation at Wrexham has descended into absolute, utter farce. At the beginning of this saga, we were of the opinion that talk of Booth being more interested in creating publicity for herself may have been overstated. As time has progressed, however, this argument has become a more and more difficult one to defend and Booth has long since started to look like someone that is far more interested in creating a scene and the sound of her own voice than the best interests of Wrexham FC. Meanwhile, the future of the club remains in the air, quite possibly hanging by a thread, and Booth’s indiscretion in her public statements can only be regarded as extremely damaging to the likelihood of the club’s sale ever being finalised to the satisfaction and in the best interests of the supporters of the club. Geoff Moss may merely be stalling, waiting to see if the club can win back its place in the Football League. If Booth is serious, she should either put up or shut up. This pantomime has gone on for too long.
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