Deal or no deal – it’s a crucial week in Vale’s history

Deal or no deal – it’s a crucial week in Vale’s history

All Vale fans know this already… but Rob Fielding ponders another crucial week for Port Vale FC.

And Fielding repeats his appeal for the club’s administrators to help calm anxious fans and keep them updated as events unfold.

Rob Fielding writes…

So here we are again. Another week, another Port Vale controversy amd another vital seven days in our club’s history…


Rob Fielding has been a Vale fan for 31 years and has been editing OVF since 1996. These are his personal views

This time, some off-the-cuff remarks from administrator Bob Young, coupled with a delay in the Keith Ryder deal being completed have sparked much speculation about whether the Ryder deal will actually be completed by the end of this month.

For those of you who have missed out on the drama, here’s a recap of what happened on the 21st June…

A Football League spokesman told the Sentinel that the League were still waiting for Ryder and club administrators to provide documents requested back on the 30th May (prior to the FL statement, many observers were confident of a 22nd June completion date).

Ryder responded via a Supporters Club statement and an official statement on the Port Vale FC website. He says that the document required is a ‘Deed of Covenant’ from Stoke city council (guaranteeing football atValePark) and this has caused the delay. Ryder calls rumours of the deal collapsing “nonsense” and says “we are working towards a completion date of 30th June”

And then on the 24th June… BBC Radio Stoke spoke to administrator Bob Young who indicates that there is a second bid that can be revived should the Ryder bid fall through.

So, with the background history lesson out of the way, this is undoubtedly a big week for Vale supporters.

To be fair to Keith Ryder, he was open and honest on June 21st. You cannot ask for much more than Ryder explaining the delay and then giving us a date that he expects the deal to be completed by. Ultimately, Ryder will be judged on whether or not his deal completes by the end of the month. We’ll know how exactly much his words are worth on July 1st.

The one worry for Ryder is surely that the key document – the covenant – is out of his hands as it has to be provided byStoke-on-Trent city council. But surely it’s not in the council’s interests to thwart Ryder’s deal? The deal represents the best chance of the council claiming back at least some of the money it lent Port Vale FC.

And I suspect there was a little mischief making from BBC Radio Stoke following the comments from Bob Young. Most fans would be aware that administrators have to cover all options, so it would be standard practice to have a back-up plan waiting in the wings. I suspect Young was actually trying to do the right thing and reassure fans, but it’s backfired. Media manipulation of these comments can be misinterpreted by anxious fans and can cause a panic (indeed there are two articles circulating right now speculating that the deal could be dead and both seem to have been sparked by Young’s remarks).

So, where does this leave us?

Well, it definitely leaves us with an anxious wait, that’s for sure.

But I do think there is one thing that the club and Ryder can do to help quell speculation and panic and make that “anxious wait” a little less anxious.

I’ve mentioned it already, but I only feel it’s fair enough to do so again. As this is such a crucial week in Port Vale’s history, is it not too much for the club’s administrators to attempt to give us regular updates?

Yes, I know there is only so much that can be said thanks to confidentiality and yes, the Supporters Club continue to do a fine job of sending through messages anyway, but ultimately fans want updates, not from the hard-working Supporters Club, but from those actually involved in these meetings – the administrators and Keith Ryder.

Surely a few simple messages would not be difficult?

For example, if the deal is still going ahead as planned, would it hurt to publish a “Keith Ryder still remains confident that the deal will be completed on schedule” message?

Once the covenant has been agreed, can the club not let fans know ? Again , it could simply say: “Documents that were requested by the Football League have now been sent to them by Keith Ryder.”

Can the club make sure that a statement (one way or the other) goes live on Friday (the date the deal is supposed to be completed)?

Yes, these statements are not going to answer all the fans’ questions and therefore won’t stop all the rumours. But, in my view, they will go some way to helping to calm down anxious fans during one of the more crucial weeks in the club’s history.

In the meantime, fingers crossed and roll on June 30th. Here’s hoping for a happy ending.

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