This article was published on the When Saturday Comes website on the 11th June, 2011.
11 June ~ The long-running soap opera that has been going on at Port Vale shows no sign of abating over the summer months. Centre-stage is the vastly unpopular Port Vale board. Despite regularly professing to be “for us all” and being a “supporters-led board”, the three current directors gained just the support of just 14 fans among over 900 who responded in a recent poll.
An EGM called by the supporters was held, at the board’s request, on a Wednesday morning in the middle of school holidays. The board – comprised of five men at the time and nicknamed the Jackson Five after one of them, Peter Jackson – insisted on a ballot conducted on a “one share, one vote” basis, despite the group’s founding principle being “one shareholder, one vote”. This enabled a handful of large shareholders – chief among them, local businessman Rob Lee – to keep three of the board in power, although two other directors were ousted and the board lost an overall vote of no confidence. Remarkably, despite publicly declaring on no less than 14 occasions that he would “happily stand down” if he lost the support of the fans, chairman Bill Bratt duly ignored calls from shareholders to resign, and remained on the board.
The EGM left the club with a non-viable board of just three directors. Manager Micky Adams, back for a second spell at the club after a few months with Sheffield United, was controversially asked to stand as a fourth director, thus allowing the board to function legally. But it then came to light that Adams, who is not a shareholder, would have his directorship sponsored by Stan Meigh, one of the directors deposed at the EGM. The news immediately lead to accusations of Adams being a board pawn and calls for a man who confesses to have “no interest in club politics” to stay out of the boardroom.
The Sproson Fund has spent ten years raising funds for a statue of late Vale legend Roy Sproson. Roy made 844 appearances in 20 years with the Vale, his only league club, who he also managed. In many fans’ eyes, he was/is the ultimate Port Vale ambassador. The board delayed work on the statue’s foundations, citing a lack of proper “paperwork”. The Sproson Fund were furious and saw this as the board hitting back at the group for supporting the pro-change lobby. For many Vale fans, it is the ultimate insult. It’s one thing to remain in power when hugely unpopular or to not resign when you’ve promised to do so on many occasions, but to denigrate the memory of a Port Vale legend is simply a step too far.
Robert Fielding onevalefan.co.uk