In Rob Fielding’s latest opinion piece “One Vale View” the OVF founder responds to recent comments from Chairman Bill Bratt in the Sentinel newspaper.
In the Sentinel newspaper, Chairman Bill Bratt conceded that potential sponsors Ameriturf Global Systems have yet to provide proof of funding. Bratt told the newspaper: “Let’s not forget this is a sponsorship, they are not trying to take over the club, and they don’t have to have proof of funding for sponsorship.”
Well, Mr Bratt may want to consider his words carefully. Perhaps he can recall the club’s dealings with mobile phone providers Tricell in 2005?
At the start of the 2005/2006 season, Bill Bratt said of the shirt sponsors: “The sponsorship payment terms have been renegotiated for this season and we have no reason to believe the agreement will not be honoured.”
However, due to a stock market crash Tricell incurred debts of around £1.5m and later that season Bratt was forced to concede: “They are still saying they are going to pay but it’s very much in doubt, we have had absolutely nothing and it’s causing us a very big problem.”
While I appreciate the circumstances of the breakdown of the Tricell deal were different, nevertheless, the net result – a loss of sponsorship money – is the thing the club should now be attempting to avoid at all costs.
It is surely prudent and wise for the board, in their role representing Port Vale’s interests, to undertake all safeguards and undergo all due dilligence to ensure that another “Tricell moment” never occurs again? In my opinion, that due dilligence should definitely include acquiring proof of funding (regardless of whether it is legally required or not).
If it can be provided, then fair enough, a potential £1.6m sponsorship deal is not to be sniffed at and there should be credit due to the people involved in acquiring it.
But if it’s not, the Tricell fall-out will rightly have fans worried that without proper and thorough financial due dilligence, the club cannot afford to have lightning strike twice.
Rob Fielding has been a Port Vale fan for thirty years. He founded the award-winning onevalefan.co.uk website in 1996. These are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.