The departure of Dean Saunders, and the board’s subsequent announcement that all is not smooth on the takeover front, has given us another Grim Friday to add to the pile. After another unhelpful statement, it’s still a struggle not to take the position of the board without a pinch of salt though.
I’m sure the argument behind the latest pronouncement will be that the fans should be kept in the loop. Transparency hasn’t been a particularly strong suit of the club over the years though, except when it suits its needs. With Saunders walking and a need to evade being cast as the bad guys, it’s perhaps no wonder that there was swiftly a statement put out saying the blame lies elsewhere.
There’s a not too subtle line between keeping the fans informed and scoring propaganda points though. There’s a real possibility that this latest statement will succeed in adding to a negativity about the trust and their bid which is worryingly becoming more and more prevalent. But what have the trust been guilty of? Wanting the full picture before spending their money? Wanting to pick apart the ludicrous mess between the club and the parasitic Crusaders-which Ian Roberts described as a merger in a public meeting, let’s remember-before coughing up? Wanting clarification over the sponsorship deal Greene King have with the club, which according to Dismal Jimmy’s tweets merits serious investigation? If those sort of issues are what’s holding up the deal, only a fool would put the blame at the trust’s door.
The content of the statement is alarming. Were the WST made aware of the demand for a deposit before it was made public? If not, that seems a rather odd way to conduct a negotiation. The phrase “It is the intention of the current directors to request a non-refundable deposit” suggests that’s the first the WST are hearing about it, and considering the club’s complaints that the Conference’s deadline for its bond demands at the start of the season was unrealistic, it’s interesting to see that the club “intend” to demand cash by the end of the next working day. Perhaps they’re hoping the fans will all rush to the ground to hand them their cash again!
I’d assume the trust, being aware that they must use our cash wisely, will not be desperate to hand a chunk of it over with no promise of seeing it again. Indeed, they probably wouldn’t be able to. So what then? And what of the cash the fans flocked to hand over to allow the club to begin the season? It’s not feeling like they’ll see it back any time soon right now.
The statement treads eagerly on a number of other areas of thin ground. It points out that the cashflow of the business is poor and therefore the trust ought to get cracking and take over. Well, it certainly isn’t the trust’s fault that the cashflow isn’t aided by the crucial revenue stream of a flourishing commercial department, but as it stands we have a club shop with no stock, no replica kit to sell to fans, and many other fundamentals of a successful football club lacking. I’m sure Manchester United would notice if suddenly they failed to bring in any money through their merchandising.
As for the notion that the takeover process has played a role in Dean Saunders walking, I have to confess that it might hold water. It’s relevant to point out, though, that the manager’s likely to have been getting most of his information about the current state of play via the board. Maybe that’s the WST’s fault; there has certainly appeared to be a lack of communication between them and Saunders at points during this process. However, it’s equally fair to say that the club’s board have consistently offered up public statements which have been cast doubt on the Trust’s credentials. It would be rich to argue that they lack the ambition and ability to match Saunders’ ambitions though, when the board have already stated they intend to put no more money into the club! Still, if Saunders is constantly hearing how unlikely it is that the Trust isn’t meeting its requirements and might not allow him to bring in new players, with no voice from the other side to suggest otherwise, is it any wonder that he views their takeover with trepidation? And having put up with the leaked email scandal last month, is there any great motive for him to stick around anyway?
Some argue the trust have frozen like a rabbit in the headlights, so close to pulling off a takeover, and need to ignore the detail in favour of a swift assumption of responsibility. But I come back to the position I’ve always taken over their actions; they are holding our money in trust and are responsible for using it wisely.
If they are cautious because they wish to do things the right way, if they are slow because they are serious, if they are naive because they are honourable, then they are to be applauded and supported, not castigated. It’s always darkest before the dawn, after all. Play the long game and back a takeover which will forever rid our minds of the question; “what are the real reasons why the club did that?”