Rob Fielding says that neither the Supporters Club, nor pro-change groups are to blame for this sorry mess, but the blame does have to be laid squarely at the feet of the club’s administrators.
Rob Fielding writes…
I really wish I didn’t have to write this.
However, with the collapse/delay * of Keith Ryder’s takeover bid, it now seems like Port Vale FC is in deep, deep crisis.
* Delete as applicable depending on time of day
Many accusations abound – some misguided individuals want to blame fans who wanted change. But comments like “we warned you to be careful what you wished for” are both condescending and wrong. It was the previous board were unable to pay the taxman and the staff wages. It was the previous regime took us into administration, despite pleas from concerned fans to stand aside before it was inevitable.
A popular expression is “the buck stops here” and as the previous regime was in charge when the club went into administration. It is therefore the board who must take ultimate responsibility for starting the current sequence of events. They should all hang their heads in shame.
Similarly, blaming the Supporters Club is both nonsensical and wrong. The group is merely trying to represent fans’ interests and have been the only organisation to communicate effectively with supporters. I feel that the Supporters Club have behaved with dignity despite considerable pressure and I am sure there must be hours and hours of hard work behind their efforts.
Clearly, many fans are crying out to be informed and in some cases that has led to the Supporters Club copping some flak. That’s most unfair, akin to shooting the messenger for delivering bad news. The Supporters Club are not in charge of the club, effectively they act as well-meaning bystanders, offering assistance, representing fans’ interests and keeping them informed.
So, who is to blame for this mess?
In my book, there’s one party and that is the club’s administrators.
Leaving aside the confusion over season tickets and the sheer ineptitude of not preparing the ground for pre-season friendlies, the administrators’ performance since they took over on March 14th has left an awful lot to be desired.
I have previously criticised the administrators for an alarming lack of PR ability. Even now they continue with a scattergun approach of talking to the local media on most occasions with the occasional official statement direct from the club.
I think Port Vale fans want first-hand communication, via clear, official statements, not a few sentences that have potentially been chopped and changed at the hands of the newspaper sub editor’s desk. I also don’t think it would have been that difficult for the administrators to offer a regular updates on the process rather than leaving fans in the darks for day after day. They are after all, being paid an awful lot of money, so surely it’s not too much to expect?
Not only have that, but the few comments that we have had from the administrators seem to be contradictory. Several weeks ago, we were assured the deal was fine and it was the Football League holding it up. All that was required was a signature. Now, it appears, that quite apart from the Football League agreement, the club are still waiting for payment from Keith Ryder.
Why wasn’t that payment demanded weeks ago?
Why weren’t clear deadlines included in any contract with Mr Ryder?
If Mr Ryder’s original deadline was early July (as a statement on the official website indicates) why were talks with any other interested parties not accelerated then in preparation for Ryder reaching the end of his exclusivity period?
Why did Bob Young say all that was required was sign-off from the Football League when clearly it wasn’t?
Why has there been no communication over season tickets despite many fans shelling out a considerable amount of money for them?
Why all the mixed messages?
In my view, for all the money the council has put forward to secure administration, they have received very poor value from Begsbies Traynor.
Should Mr Ryder fail to deliver and the administrators now produce a “Plan B” I am sure that every Vale fan will be demanding that Mr Young and Co. up their game and start treating fans with a lot more respect.
* Note: this feature has been edited to remove an incorrect reference to the takeover’s exclusivity period.