Truth can be stranger than fiction, and the news today that Van Morton Investments Ltd have decided not to take up the chance to buy Wrexham Football Club may be, in football terms at least, the definitive proof of this. As regular readers of this site will remember, the organisation that had agreed the purchase of Wrexham from Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts – who are already well advanced in the process of separating the club from its home since 1872 – hadn’t actually been registered at Companies House last week. This means that we have seen over the last couple weeks the disbelief-suspending spectacle of a company that doesn’t even exist withdrawing from the race to buy a football club.
What the outside world is supposed to think of this decision was made perfectly clear from the words of the club’s official statement on the subject. The three men named as having been behind the bid have all been granted official positions within the club – Tony Allan as the Chief Executive, with Robert Bickerton and Jon Harris in roles as yet undisclosed by the club itself – and the claim made within the statement are that they ended their interest on account of, “negative and adverse publicity that they have witnessed”. Meanwhile, the directors of the club added that “they are aware of the abuse and threats that the current owners have received over this matter” and that “they now plan to look elsewhere”.
As ever, with any official statement from those currently running Wrexham FC, something approaching an attempt at providing some degree of clarity only ends up provoking many more questions that it answers. The world, apart from a handful of people that were never going to say anything of any use on the subject in public, remains singularly unaware of who, exactly, was behind Van Morton Investments Ltd. If Bickerton, Allan and Harris are all staying on at Wrexham, who is left to “look elsewhere” for another club to invest in? Much was made of the anonymity that these investors craved, but talk like this will always make people concerned. For many months, the craving of anonymity was the stated reason behind Munto Finance not revealing exactly where the funding for their near-ruinous takeover of Notts County was coming from until the truth finally emerged. There wasn’t any.
The issue of “the abuse and threats that the current owners have received over this matter” is also a serious matter. These should be reported to the police, who should carry out a full investigation and prosecute anyone that has been “threatening” Moss and Roberts. We look forward to them submitting their evidence to the police and are certain that Wrexham supporters will assist in any way that they can. The alternative, of course, would be that any such allegations are completely overblown (if, indeed, they exist at all) and that they are being made in order to discredit those that legitimately criticise them. Such allegations would be considered libellous if they were made against an individual in public and were false. Since these allegations are so serious, though, we can assume that the inevitable police investigation will result in the individuals concerned being identified. They must be serious, if they are a factor behind a company seeking to purchase a business with, presumably, a view to turning a profit on it
Meanwhile, the Wrexham Supporters Trust’s membership continues to grow. It remains essential that supporters of the club are unified as this situation plays out. To give two examples of how such membership can succeed or fail, Wrexham supporters need only look either up the road or to another club in a wretched position at present. At Chester City, a support that had previously been divided came together and forced its will under the banner of Chester Fans United. At the other end of the spectrum, Blue Square South club St Albans City, who are staring down the barrel of extinction at the moment, the supporters trust has been hamstrung by divisions within a far smaller support which has meant that any talk of protest against those that have been mismanaging the club has thus far been largely fruitless. Unity, at this stage, cannot be understated and there are scores of examples of clubs at which arguments within a club’s support have been allowed to cloud a broader princple.
It’s not all bad news for the club’s supporters, though. The dread prospect of Stephen Vaughan becoming involved in Wrexham seems to have receded a little this evening. There has been a link of some sort between everybody even semi-publicly connected with the takeover and Vaughan, but those concerned were never likely to explicitly admit of his involvement. For one thing, mention of his name in public would have pricked the ears of one or two at The Insolvency Service. Of that much we can be certain. Still, if he is not involved in this at all, was never to be involved in this at all or has been put off becoming involved in this at all, such non-involvement should be a cause for celebration, of sorts.
Where the story of Wrexham FC during the 2010/11 season will end up at this point in time is anybody’s guess. The team won again on Saturday – which makes seven in a row, a run that has pushed them up to fourth place in the Blue Square Premier – and might yet end this season winning its place in the Football League back. On the other hand, it could end with an asset-strip having been completed, the ownership of the club unknown and, for all the fine talk of options to “buy the Club, the Stadium and the training ground”, nothing having become of talk that has sounded like so much hot air on account of any one of a number reasons, ranging from these owners not having the money to do this to the football club itself being to all intents and purposes insolvent. Wrexham’s season has a long way to go, in many different respects.
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