It is public record and a genuine fact that I am willing to sell my stake and shareholding in the club.
Accordingly, there has been very limited and disjointed discussions with a representative on behalf of the Tom Shutes consortium, which broke down this afternoon after principal terms were already agreed.
The basis of the agreement reached, was that my shareholding would be acquired at par value i.e., £1 per share (agreed) and the loans would be repaid (agreed).
However, the terms related to the repayment of my loans were not acceptable as they were performance-related.
Essentially, my loans were proposed to be paid back 1/3 at the end of this season, 1/3 at the end of the second season, and 1/3 at the end of the third season. The deal-breaker was that if the club did not achieve League 2 status or above, in any of those seasons, further loan repayments would fall away.
With only 19 games played this season, and a transfer window left, I am being asked not only to continue funding the club for someone else, but also to take a risk that if the new regime takes the club down, then my loans would be written off.
Honestly speaking, I would have expected the Tom Shutes consortium to have more confidence in their potential running of the football club.
Aside of that, I explained the rationale of why my loans should be repaid at the end of this season. The Club is financially very sound (with no liabilities - other than the loan to directors) and in addition, I have always been assured by the consortium that they are gentleman with sufficient funds to acquire the club and they have always been aware that this would include the repayment of loans
Even further to that, I asked, if the club had debts of a bank overdraft of £650,000 and a £720,000 debt to HMRC would you expect to take that on? The answer was - well that would be part of the business, so yes!!!. What’s the difference I asked, as in-effect, I have been the bank for the club without charging any interest for over 15 years.
In all that knowledge, the Tom Shutes consortium rejected the deal that had been agreed in principle because their proposal demanded me to continue to fund their football club, beyond this season, of which I am not prepared to do.
15 years ago, I inherited the following debts, a bank overdraft of £650,000, a £720,000 debt to HMRC and further have paid off £700,000 of previous directors’ loans. The debt I took on was approximately £5 million in today’s money. Every other Director has, on leaving the Board, seen their loans repaid - so why not me? The Club is in a far healthier financial state than when I acquired it - and yet I am being asked to continue to finance it with a potential of no repayment in the event of matters beyond my control.
So, I do not think I am being unreasonable at all. I know that at least two of the consortium members are very wealthy indeed, so I do struggle to understand why there is all the faffing around.
This negotiation was supposed to be on an open book confidential basis at the request of the consortium, so it is very disappointing that it’s been played out in public.
The last two years, with all the distraction of potential takeover, makes running the club a doubly difficult job, to assist moving things forward here’s the deal.
To the Mr Shutes consortium, my offer to sell the club is on the basis that you acquire my shares at per value as already agreed, and that you agree to repay my loans in full at the end of this season, and no interest will be payable. A sum of exactly £1.5 million.
This offer is there for all to see and is on the table until 4pm on 24th December 2020. Please respond to the chairman of the football club with your decision.
If this is agreed, we can draft a short form sale and purchase agreement for all parties to agree and sign which will be subject to EFL requirements, which should be a formality.
The club cannot endure further procrastination of this matter, so I hope you understand the basis for applying the deadline publicly, beyond which if it passes without resolution, then the current board must get on with appointing the new manager without the extended offer for the Mr Shutes consortium to be involved in the process.
I am truly very sorry that this is being conducted in public, this was not my intention.