Port Vale’s former club sponsors, Harlequin Property, are the subject of a formal alert issued by the Financial Services Agency (FSA).
The alert (which is available here – http://www.fsa.gov.uk/smallfirms/your_firm_type/financial/pdf/alert-harlequin.pdf) warns investors who have put money into Harlequin’s resorts that they would have no access to official compensation if the schemes collapsed.
The FSA document explains that as Harlequin is not authorised or regulated by it, there is no Government-backed protection scheme.
Harlequin’s solicitors told the Southend Standard that: “Harlequin fully endorses that [FSA] guidance, both for regulated Independent Financial Advisers and non-regulated agents who are selling its properties. Harlequin worked with the FSA in drafting the notice. This guidance is also reflected on Harlequin’s website. Such guidance reflects best practice and is entirely commonplace for investments of this kind.”
Harlequin were brought to Port Vale by then Chairman Bill Bratt and were unveiled as the club’s main sponsor in 2008. In 2009, there were repeated claims by Bratt that Harlequin were poised to invest £500,000 in the club but the claims never came to fruition. The claims were subject of much scepticism at the time prompting Bratt to complain about reports on a “fans’ website” and to claim that “via a website, the best sponsor this club has ever had is being unfairly maligned.” The proposed investment in Port Vale never materialised.
In 2010, Harlequin agreed a two-year extension to remain the club’s main sponsor. However, the firm’s relationship with Vale ended badly in 2012 when the Sentinel newspaper revealed that Harlequin were sueing Vale over the repayment of a £125,000 to the Valiants, which had reportedly been agreed by Bratt.
At the time, then Vale director Perry Deakin told the newspaper: “We’re in dialogue with Harlequin. I fully expect the matter to be resolved within 14 days.”
Bratt: ‘Same values’
While the firm were Vale’s main sponsors, the Harlequin website contained a glowing testimonial from Bill Bratt which read:
“I am extremely pleased that you [Harlequin] share the same values and principles and have a community ethos as we do… may I add that I think that the properties you are selling in Barbados, St Vincent and The Grenadines, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic are excellent value for money and the potential for capital growth on the properties is tremendous.”
Link: Bratt’s testimonial