In the end, she couldn’t leave without one final sideswipe. Stephanie Booth, whose attempts to take control of Wrexham Football Club – or, perhaps, just The Racecourse Ground – have been characterised by what has occasionally looked at times like a pathological inability to keep quiet when she should have, has exited the ongoing soap opera at The Racecourse Ground with a press statement which invites, as so many of her previous press statements have, more questions than answers. Booth had been initially been greeted with a degree of warmth by supporters of the club, but this turned to scepticism and eventually outright hostility as time came to pass and, although she seemed more than happy to blame many people for the ultimate failure of her interest in getting involved at the club without admitting a great deal of culpability for this herself, it is difficult to avoid the ultimate conclusions that there was never a serious bid put forward by herself and that she only really has herself to blame for the supporters of the club choosing, quite categorically, to not “Back The Booth”.
Booth’s full statement can been here. In it, she claims that she, “offered the WST a majority and controlling stake in the football club despite the fact that I would invest most of the money to clear debts leaving their investment for pure equity”, none of which explains why, when she initially handed out flyers with an outline of what she seemed to believe constituted a plan for the take-over of the club, it had bank details for people to pay money into at the bottom of it. One could be forgiven for wondering whether any money was actually paid into that bank account and, if so, what became or is to become of it. She then returns to a familiar theme of “enduring libellous comments, personal abuse and threats” made against her – at the time of writing, it is unknown whether any of these have been reported to the police and, if so, whether they are to be acted upon – before going on to state that, “I do not begin to understand the WST motives”, which seems like a remarkable statement, considering that the WST (Wrexham Supporters Trust) has clearly stated aims and goals, which are publicly available on their website.
The WST, which is reasonably well-versed in batting away this sort of statement by now, responded swiftly with a reactive statement of its own this morning. What has been absolutely clear about Booth’s involvement in the situation at Wrexham FC is that it was initially reasonably popular amongst the club’s support, but that it caused deep division which has proved to be enormously damaging to the WST’s chances of securing ownership of the club itself. Many people were willing to give her the opportunity to prove herself but, as the WST itself states in no uncertain terms, “a formal proposal from her … never materialized”, and the initial suspicions of some dissenters – who themselves had to put up with a considerable amount of abuse for speaking out – that Booth was largely involved in this for her own PR purposes started to look truer and truer as time progressed. We may never find out what the exact motives for her involvement were. What we can say, however, is that the fact that such a statement even needs to be made says everything necessary in itself about the substance – or lack thereof – of the “Back The Booth” bid.
Booth, then, is – unless she changes her mind, which can’t be fully discounted, considering everything – out of the picture for the time being. More troubling than even her, though, for Wrexham supporters, is the apparently renewed interest of the Colin Poole’s consortium in buying the club. The club itself has thus far remained tight-lipped on the subject, but it is now being widely rumoured that Poole and the former footballer Ashley Ward are planning their bid for the club. They will need thick skins, should they be successful. The overwhelming feeling coming from the club’s support if of outright hostility, and should they choose to buy the club and not merely asset-strip it, it seems sifficult to believe that they will ever enjoy much peace at The Racecourse Ground.
The question of what form such a take-over would take remains open to question. Poole is, as you may remember from our previous articles on the subject, barred for being or acting as a company director until 2018. It has also been rumoured that the ultimate bogeyman, Stephen Vaughan, may be involved, but he is in prison at present and will also remain barred from acting as a company director upon his release. We will return to the subject of their bid if or when absolute confirmation of it is made public and in the event that they do bidm, it seems unlikely that the support will take their involvement in their club lying down. Some Wrexham supporters are already understood to have furnished some of the authorities with details of their behaviour and talk over the last few months, and it will be interesting to see what their response would be to such information having been passed to them.
We cannot say to what extent there is a will on anybody’s part to keep people such as these away from football clubs but, after the Chester City debacle – and their involvement in the 2009/10 Blue Square Premier season was exactly that – we may have had cause hope that the likes of the Football Association and the Football Association of Wales (Wrexham are still registered with the North East Wales FA) would say “never again”. Such a scenario would be a good opportunity to find out whether they did or not. What Companies House would make of it all, meanwhile, is another matter altogether.
Meanwhile, the WST bid continues apace. With £400,000 in the bank and a further £200,000 pledged, they are making progress towards securing the money required to fund this and an open meeting has been set for Tuesday 17th May to discuss this in further detail. The decision over where the ownership of the club ultimately lies with Geoff Moss, but there is still plenty of cause for optimism. With the lion’s share of the division amongst the club’s support over the ownership issue having slowly dissolved away over the last few weeks as Booth’s behaviour became less and less palatable whilst the WST continued to act with the utmost dignity and decorum, the possibility of the club entering into supporters trust ownership – at which point a new, but considerably preferable set of challenges will arise – remains somewhere between a possibility and a likelihood. Should it happen, the club’s supporters can finally get on with all that they really want. To support their club. To be football supporters. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
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