Documents disclosed to OVF appear to confirm fears that Directors Peter Miller and Perry Deakin may not have signed personal guarantees when they joined the Port Vale boardroom. Miller and Deakin caused a storm when it was revealed that, despite club statements to the contrary, they had not paid for their shares when they sought election to the board.
So far, no evidence has been provided to show that the duo have indeed paid for their shareholdings, despite both being members of the board for several weeks.
Now, information provided by North London Valiants’ Malcolm Hirst casts doubt on whether the pair were asked to sign personal guarantees as is standard practice for Vale board members.
Hirst asked Vale club secretary Bill Lodey to confirm whether Deakin and Miller had signed guarantees. Lodey’s reply, forwarded to OVF, merely repeats the club articles which state that guarantees are required at “board discretion.”
The full article which Mr Lodey quotes in his email reads: “Article 22(b) requires that on or before appointment and for the duration of office, a director shall be required to enter into such personal guarantees of the obligations of the Company ‘as the Board’ shall from time to time require all directors of the Company to enter into. It is therefore a matter for the board (acting by board majority) to determine policy in relation to personal guarantees from directors and all directors must adhere to board policy. I can confirm that all directors adhere to board policy in relation to personal guarantees.”
North London Valiants member Hirst told OVF: “Sadly, we find that once again our club refuses to be open, transparent and honest in its dealing with shareholder and fans. The more they try to deflect and ignore the questions and concerns of the fan base, the more suspicious people will believe the board have something to hide. The fans do not trust the board; we will not give up the fight for our club and the removal of the Valiant 2001 directors. The directors need to know we will continue to fight until each and everyone of them has gone. It is our club not yours.”
If the pair were not asked to sign personal guarantees then this smacks of rank hypocrisy from the Port Vale board. Fans will recall that Mark Sims, a duly elected director via the EGM, was not allowed to perform due dilligence on the club and yet was also expected to sign a personal guarantee when he joined the board.
A club statement on the 8th June made claims about personal guarantees which indicated this was a usual practice and that guarantees would continue to be asked of new directors. In the statement, the club says:
“Mark will also note that the “financial obligations, guarantees, responsibilities” which he would be required to assume are exactly the same as those which the present and preceding Directors have sustained for many years, and which the present Directors continue to sustain now.
“Mark will further note that those “financial obligations, guarantees, responsibilities” are rational and well-considered, and are also absolutely essential for the successful operation of the Club.
“Every new Director of Port Vale is required to take on an exactly equal share of those “financial obligations, guarantees, responsibilities”, and Mark Sims will also be so required.”
So has this policy, spelt out so clearly in the club’s own statement, changed?
Unless the club can answer Hirst’s question about Deakin and Miller’s personal guarantees with a “yes” or a “no” rather than quoting club articles, it is only fair to assume that the club has something to hide over this issue.
Furthermore, many fans will come to the conclusion that the personal guarantee rule is therefore only applied when the club feel like it.
How can that be open, transparent and honest?