During a highly charged Q&A session with supporters, owner Norman Smurthwaite claimed that Port Vale was losing up to £160,000 per month and would need £820,000 to stay afloat until the start of next season.
Smurthwaite made the claim during a packed meeting at Vale Park on Thursday evening.
Answering a fan’s question he said that:
- Gate receipts are only just covering match costs
- The club from January to April is losing £140,000 to £160,000 a month.
- The first instalment of the Jordan Hugill transfer sell-on money is helping with this but will run out in April.
- This means Port Vale will need £820,00 to stay afloat between May and July
- He added that any potential buyer would therefore have to meet the asking price AND “put £820,000 in the coffers to see us through”
In other replies to questions Smurthwaite claimed:
- He found goalkeeper Jak Alnwick (who subsequently was sold to Glasgow Rangers for a reported £250,000 fee)
- Former manager Rob Page was six players short having spent his budget so he gave Page an extra £450,000 to his budget and was therefore incensed when the club lost to Exeter in the cup.
- He said that Micky Adams advised him to appoint Graham Westley as manager and the appointment of Neil Aspin had nothing to do with Adams.
- He will back Neil Aspin with his “wishlist” for next season “to try and get us back to League One.”
- John Rudge had advised to speak to Gavin Gunning a month before and he wanted the defender to stay. But if they had paid Gunning what he wanted there would have been a “rebellion”
- He claimed he didn’t want to appoint Michael Brown as manager
- If we don’t stay in the League manager Neil Aspin should not be made a scapegoat.
- The FA has been in touch over the trouble at the Grimsby match but the outcome is unknown.
- He said that Neil Aspin is here for a long time regardless of where the club end up this season.
- “Backstabbing”issue at the club will be dealt with but he said it wasn’t him.
- He claims he won’t get involved in signing the players but Aspin will be financially backed.
The Synectics bid:
- He said negotiations with Synectics broke down because of propaganda on social media about him not owning the ticket office
- He said he rejected Synectics after they lowered their price following social media coverage regarding the ownership of the club shop.
- They approached him again and had done due diligence but he claims he rejected them as they required finance.
- He claimed that Carol Shanahan is the right person to own the club but that is conditional on her having the means to do so.
Other bids and finance:
- He will cover the costs of the Ribeiro mistake but claims club is only afloat due to director’s loan
- As of June 30 2017 his director’s loan is £3.4m.
- He holds himself accountable for the club’s predicament
- As long as he is in charge of the club he is liable to keep it solvent.
- He refused to name a price for the club but said the club is for sale to the right person.
- Norwegian bidders connected to Bruno Ribeiro’s agent wanted to buy the club but after Smurthwaite asked three fans for advice the deal was publicised in the local press and the group then pulled out
- He said – forget how much the club is sold for – it’s who it is sold to which is important.
- He claimed that there is an unidentified party interested in buying the club.
- He said he is not charging interest on his loans to the club.
- He said the club has 3,000 hardcore fans. If the fans cover the shortfall (of £820,00) at £270 per head then he “doesn’t need to be here.” He said that is a positive way of showing the fans don’t want him.
- He said fans won’t influence what he sells the club for, but you will who he sells it to. Subject to health he said he will be “here until we are back to League One”
- He claimed he loves the club and doesn’t want to go.
The club’s long-term plans:
- He said decreasing fanbase is largely dictated by events on the pitch.
- Club needs to reach beyond hardcore fanbase.
- Port Vale’s fanbase makes it a League One club.