Monday, 23 May 2011

I'm Right Naive Me!

As Reeves and Mortimer used to say "I'm right naive me".

You see, I assumed that when a bid to buy a business is turned down, it's because a better plan has been submitted by someone else. Judging by the last few days, perhaps that's not always the case.

The WST were, of course, the losers in the bidding process for Wrexham Football Club. They were rejected, according to Geoff Moss, on two grounds: a lack of experience in running a football club and a financial inability to fund it in the medium term.

As a key tenet of the WST's bid was that they would appoint professionals to run the club, the argument that they could not do the job as "the people who run the Trust all have full time jobs" is surely irrelevant. And as for the lack of a financial plan, well if the thoroughy professional pitch, supported by a top table packed with experience in running football clubs, made in the William Aston Hall wasn't good enough, then Jon Harris' must have been stunning! Considering the fact that he seems to have nothing in his background to suggest he's worth more than the trust, he must be able to sell icecubes to eskimos! And we all know he's operating alone, apart from the odd expert advisor, of course.

And there's the strange thing. It seems Geoff Moss has, since opting for Harris' bid, has asked for funding from the trust. That seems a bit like Simon Cowell picking Leona Lewis as his winner and then asking the runner-up to sing us out! But wasn't Harris' bid water-tight? Didn't it contain sufficient funds to provide for the club's medium and long term future? And isn't long term future what the Centre of Excellence is all about?

I know there's been a funding gap at Colliers Park since the Football League's money dried up. I also know that it's sometimes hard to get people to invest in the future when they're fixated with the present, something football fans are more guilty of than most. But I also know that if you want to raise funds, it helps if you have credibility. If there's one body which fans are happy to give their money to, it's the trust. Pity they weren't in a position to run the club and tap into that deep well of goodwill, eh?

But like I said, I'm naive. I'd have thought the sheer professionalism of the WST bid, its moral mission to give something back to the community, and its enhanced financial potential as a result of the goodwill the trust enjoys, would have made it a very attractive bid. Yet it turns out a bidder who's begging for funds before the contract's even been signed is more attreactive. Like I said, I'm right naive, me!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Long Summer Begins

So now the football season is over, and the real action begins.

What's happening now is far more important than whether we go up or not at the end of a long season of endeavour. It's about the long-term future of the club, and indeed whether it has a future or not.

While the armchair fans have been enjoying the drama of the last day of the Premiership season, we've also seen a weekend of remarkable drama as the Dismal Jimmies paid a visit to Colin Poole, a man who seems happy to make it plain to everyone that he's the power behind Jon Harris' throne despite the fact that he's legally precluded from such a position.

Poole is the latest in a long line of suitors for the club who have a history which is less than saintly. In fact, stop me if I'm wrong, but isn't the WST bid the only one which isn't backed by at least one person who is currently banned from acting as a company director?

The reaction to their visit was highly illuminating. Let's get something straight: I'd never condone the actions of anyone who broke the law or acted in an intimidating way; even if they felt their target deserved it, behaving like that means they stoop to their enemies' level.

However, there's been absolutely no suggestion that the Dismal Jimmies did anything illegal or intimidating; they attended what appears to be a public event and there's no report that they were threatening in their behaviour. Yet they report that Wrexham fans were characterised as "peasants" by Poole's wife, who exhorted her husband to bankrupt the club in a manner which suggested this was something which had already been discussed.

It would have been a massive PR disaster for Poole in other circumsances: quite apart from the alleged bankruptcy threat, it would be easy to present this as a case of the landed classes looking down their noses at the grubby oiks who support football teams and disrupt their cosy lives. Yet there won't be any PR repercussions from this: the mainstram media are unlikely to pick it up, and anyway, football isn't a democracy: the club has been sold to whoever the owners fancied as their successor. Public opinion didn't come into it.

There has been some crucial fall-out from the affair, although it's difficult to interpret. A purported press release from Harris has appeared on Red Passion, claiming to reveal that Poole has withdrawn his backing. Heaven knows if the press release is genuine, and if it is, whether it's a sincere message or a smokescreen to deter further interventions into Poole's private life. If it is genuine, the Dismal Jimmies' intervention has clearly had a dramatic effect.

It's hard to imagine Poole would get cold feet so easily though. Having surfaced, sunk and bobbed up again during the bidding process, surely he wasn't put off by this incident; indeed if he'd done his research he must have expected it. More likely he's retreating into the background, as you'd think a banned director would have done in the first place, in the hope of returning to the easy life.

We'll soon know the truth, because if Poole's money has gone Harris' bid surely collapses. Should Poole actually withdraw his support, we're back to square one, except that the WST now know that they can afford the club if they set £1 aside from their funds!

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