In his latest “One Vale View” column, Rob Fielding looks at the latest official statement by the club, which contains Port Vale’s response to the allegations by Nantwich Town.
Town have accused Vale of cancelling a pre-season friendly and not paying a bill for their use of the club’s training facilities.
Well, at least we are getting regular news on the official Port Vale website these days. There seems to be a new statement from the club almost every week. The latest is Perry Deakin’s response to allegations from Nantwich Town 
For those that don’t know the details of the saga so far, here, in brief, are the Nantwich allegations made by Chairman Jon Gold:
1. According to Gold, Vale “committed in writing to playing a strong team in a pre-season friendly this summer” as part of the deal when Vale signed Ritchie Sutton from Nantwich. 
2. According to Gold: “Vale cancelled the friendly because we wouldn’t wave the bill for the hiring of our pitches, but the two issues are separate” 
3. Nantwich lost around £6,000 from the fixture cancellation
4. The bill for Vale’s hire of the plastic pitches which they trained on during the icy winter was around £1,600 and remains unpaid
With those allegations in place, let’s look at Vale’s response…
Vale Statement: According to Deakin, Vale already have a “gentleman’s agreement” to play a summer friendly at Nantwich (with Nantwich keeping the gate receipts) which has been in existence for two years.
OVF view: This may be the case, but this was a specifically agreed one-off friendly which would act as part-payment in kind for the Ritchie Sutton transfer. And according to Nantwich Chairman Dave Gold, when Sutton moved, Vale “committed in writing to playing a strong team in a pre-season friendly this summer.”  If Nantwich have Vale’s letters, then an officially written agreement is a far, stronger legal commitment than a gentleman’s agreement, which, by its very definition, is not legally binding.
Vale statement: According to Deakin, the “gentleman’s agreement” also includes free use of Nantwich’s training facilities if Nantwich keep all the receipts from the pre-season friendlies. Furthermore, the club were never charged for using the training facilities in 2009/2010 and have never received a purchase order for the 2010/2011 use.
OVF View: Vale are on slightly stronger ground here. If, as Vale claimed, Nantwich did not charge them in 2009, then why charge them now?
However, even so, a gentleman’s agreement is not legally binding and as there is now no pre-season friendly this summer due to Vale pulling out, Nantwich have no friendly match revenue to compensate them for Vale’s use of their facilities and are therefore within their rights to seek an alternative payment method.
Vale statement: Vale were in contact with Mr Gold and this makes his comments “disappointing as well as unnecessary”
OVF view: Unnecessary for whom? Mr Gold is perfectly entitled to put his club’s point of view across and is probably doing so in response to fans’ questions. Do Vale consider themselves so important that only they alone can comment on such disputes? We would also imagine that Mr Gold finds Vale’s need for a statement similarly “disappointing” if the two sides are talking this through.
Vale’s recent statements have shown a depressing tendency to end with a rather condescending put-down of the other person (both Mark Sims and North London Valiants have received similar comments). Perhaps Vale could learn from their own words and understand that to continually criticise other people in club statements is both “disappointing and unnecessary?”
1. Port Vale Statement – http://www.port-vale.co.uk/page/News…407971,00.html
2. Stoke Sentinel article – http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk…ail/story.html
About the author: 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.