Rob Fielding hopes that the club isn’t sold to a hedge fund and he believes there are options that will allow the owner to sell the club to the right people.
Rob Fielding writes…
If Norman Smurthwaite was looking for guidance from fans on what to do next, my advice would be pretty clear – sell, but sell to buyers who will look after Port Vale FC.
I would be immensely fearful for Vale’s future if we were in the hands of a hedge fund…
So, for me, it matters not if the Norwegian bidders’ sums are right or wrong or whether they exist in reality or not – the simple point is I don’t believe they will be the right owners for our club. I would be immensely fearful for Vale’s future if we were in the hands of a hedge fund.
In my view, the ideal purchasers for the club would be a local company but one with the financial resources to take the club forward. I would certainly have more trust in a local company than a hedge fund to have the best intentions for the club. After all, a local company is exactly that – local – if they don’t fulfil their pledges then they cannot hide overseas.
However, the one local bidder was turned down because, according to the Chairman, they would have to take out a loan to fund the club’s day-to-day operating costs.
So, finding the right buyer is almost certainly easier said than done especially if the club is seemingly being sold at a high price.
It seems to me there are four steps still available for Norman right now. The first three are:
- To sell the club to an organisation that could severely damage the club (e.g. a hedge fund) and get back all his directors’ loans. In my opinion, this would be a disaster.
- To make as many people as possible aware that the club is for sale (i.e. a statement on the official website would be a start) and hope for new interest. I know he did say it was always for sale but perhaps people need to be reminded again. However, this may not guarantee new enquirers especially at the expected price.
- If he wants a quick sale he may want to consider lowering the price. It may mean he doesn’t get all the money back from the loans but it may potentially open up the market and attract more bids if Vale is marketed at a lower price. However, he will lose out financially.
However, I believe the fourth option is the best for all and that is:
- Re-open negotiations with the “local company” who met his asking price and ask for clarification of their available funds. If the sticking point is their need for a loan to cover future operating costs then surely this can be discussed further. In many respects, I think fans would rather trust a local company who (apparently) have a huge turnover to be able to cope with the loan and that the club will be far safer in their hands than in anonymous hedge funds.
These are worrying times to be a Vale fan but the events off the pitch outweigh those on them. As far as I am concerned, I hope that the owner lives up to his word to have the club’s best interests at heart when he sells it.