Monday, 07 February 2011 08:31

Update 1

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wstlogosmallThe past few weeks have been one of the most turbulent times that our club has had to endure in living memory.

We have learned that Wrexham Village have no intention of diverting development profits back into the football club.

We have learned that Wrexham Village is intent on taking the Racecourse Ground away from the football club and intends to charge the club a rent for the privilege of using its own ground.

Furthermore we are also now aware that the Rugby League authorities have a mortgage over the stadium. This is a security for a loan that they have made to the new owners of the Crusaders. The new owners happen to be the old owners of the Crusaders, wearing different hats.

Finally we found out last weekend that Wrexham Village have granted options on the club, ground and Colliers Park to the former Shrewsbury Chief Executive, Rob Bickerton.

We will deal with the last point first. We have spoken to Mr Bickerton and look forward to meeting him at an appropriate time. He has stated that he welcomes Trust involvement at the club and we see this as a positive, following five years of a secretive, closed door policy.

However, we have been disappointed with Mr Bickertons handling of the many questions surrounding his bid and in particular the lack of detail regarding his backers. We would urge Mr Bickerton to deal with this matter as a matter of urgency. His ownership of Wrexham FC will not progress as he would wish unless he adopts a more transparent approach.

Turning to other matters raised.

The apparent about face regarding the profits from the Wrexham Village Development will come as a shock to many. In particular those people who have studied the claims made by Wrexham Village in support of the development planning application.

In particular this claim which is still on the clubs website today. (1)

What percentage of the development money will be used for football purposes and what percentage will be taken as dividends by the shareholders?

All development profits will be retained for the benefit of the Football Club. For the avoidance of doubt this means 100%.

As has already been stated by the Board, all monies raised from the development will initially be used to pay off the club's debts and provide working capital to the club, with the balance to be invested in a new 'Kop' stand. Assurances on this have already been given to Wrexham Borough Council.

It is now apparent that this is no longer the case and Wrexham fans can be forgiven for wondering why this promise has not been kept.

We understand from the Daily Post (2) that Council officers are examining the claims made by Wrexham Village prior to the planning hearing. The Board of the Society welcome this move and will help in any way that we can.

The local authorities objective is to secure and develop an International Stadium and it is not clear how the more recent changes, and proposed changes, will facilitate this. The local authority made many concessions to enable Wrexham Village to develop the land around the Racecourse and they may well ask what they have received in return.

The proposal to split the football club from its ground is not a proposal that we can support in any way. Wrexham fans fought long hard battles to reclaim the ground from property speculators and the thought of it being taken by another property development company fills us with apprehension.

If Mr Roberts quotes are to be believed the intention is to form another company to hold the freehold of the Racecourse and charge a rent of £300k per annum to the club and the rugby franchise. It is also proposed to grant the club a 25 year lease under these terms.

There is no benefit, in these proposals, to Wrexham FC. No benefit whatsoever. The club would be at the mercy of a landlord who could charge whatever rent they saw fit. The 25 year lease can be compared to the 999 year lease granted to Manchester City and the 125 year lease granted to Cardiff City. This proposal is only to the benefit of the shareholders of Wrexham Village and should be opposed by all Wrexham supporters.

The news that Mr Moss and Mr Roberts have used the Racecourse as security for a loan taken from the Rugby League came as a shock to all of us. It is disappointing that these two multi millionaires should feel the need to risk the football clubs only real asset in order to support a private business transaction. We still await an explanation of the benefits of this transaction to Wrexham FC.

 In summary we believe that all of these proposals, taken together, will adversely affect the club that we love and hasten its demise.

We do not say this lightly.

So what are we doing?

Let us look at the club first and then we will discuss the football ground.

 The WST has spent some time examining the financial state of our club. It is a total and utter mess. The club is currently losing between 10k and 30k per week and at that level of losses is both unviable and unbuyable. Should the WST have been able to obtain ownership of the football club from Wrexham Village we estimate that our funding would run out in as little 3 months.

We were never given that opportunity as the Directors of Wrexham Village were unwilling to share any financial data with us. The football clubs finances need to be restructured to a level that is sustainable and, in our estimation, this could take up to two years.

There is no reason that Wrexham FC cannot be sustainable on its historic income. The current custodians of the club need to examine their consciences and ask themselves if they have served our club to the best of their abilities. They have failed our club.

The clubs abilities to generate future commercial revenue would be severely restricted by losing ownership of the stadium and the commercial deals struck with companies such as Kukri and Greene King.

On these terms the WST could not purchase the football club. However we are prepared to work with the current and future owners on an agreed plan to return the club to profitability. Any owner with a realistic business plan that creates a long term sustainable future for the club will get our support. This may be painful for some but the club cannot continue to make the losses it has accrued under Mr Mosss stewardship.

The Racecourse

There are no clubs that have succeeded after having their ground removed from ownership. Clubs such as Cambridge, Stockport, York and Weymouth have all suffered years of misery after losing their grounds to supposed benefactors. There are a host of others but the point is made.

It is painfully obvious that the Directors of Wrexham Village are intent on maximising their profits from the Racecourse project. This approach to managing the football clubs assets leads us to believe that the ownership of the Racecourse should be vested in a community vehicle that will serve the wider needs of the local community.

To this end the WST has been engaged in a series of presentations to local and national bodies in which we are seeking to sell a vision of a Racecourse Stadium that will be safe, secure and a real asset to the people of North Wales.

These meetings are still at an early stage, and are ongoing, and it would be premature of us to discuss this in much detail at this stage. We intend to call a public meeting in the town in the first week of March in order to report back on our efforts. We will outline all actions that we have taken and answer any questions that you have. We will ask for your support for these proposals. We believe that there is a way forward but we cannot do it alone. There is a lot of talking to be done.

Without a ground there is no club and if we can secure the Racecourse we can then focus our attentions on helping the club to sort out its finances.

 The current situation at the Racecourse is hugely complicated and there are no easy solutions to the problems created. Our message is not a particularly upbeat message but we believe that it is an honest assessment of the problems we face.

We will examine every aspect of the transactions at the Racecourse and will, as ever, seek legal and professional advice as appropriate. We are grateful for the support of our parent body, Supporters Direct, as well as input from fellow Supporters Trusts.

We also welcome feedback from the wider fan base and invite comment on our strategy. Fans can contact the WST by a variety of means, all of which are contained at the end of this message.

We view the gravity of the situation in a similar light to the threat posed by Alex Hamilton. We would urge all Wrexham supporters to join the WST and make it a stronger voice for your club



PO Box 2200, Wrexham, LL12 9WG

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