Rob Fielding thinks the club was wrong to dismiss the Chaudry offer and here are his reasons why.
In a Sentinel article dated May 2nd, Port Vale chairman Bill Bratt has rejected the latest joint-bid by Mo Chaudry and Mark Sims without personally responding to either of them.
In the article, Mr Bratt was quoted as saying: “Mr Chaudry appears to be repeatedly subject to the misapprehension that simply because he arbitrarily announces yet another deadline to respond to one or another of his many pronouncements, that the club is obliged to jump to attention and meet that deadline.”
The article goes on to explain that Bratt purposefully snubbed the deadline.
My opinion is that the club was wrong to dismiss the offer (and I know I am not alone on that). However, even if you have doubts about Mr Chaudry and Mr Sims and support the current board, surely you would have to agree that to not personally reply to their enquiry is childish and rather pathetic.
In my view, the Chairman’s snub is fundamentally wrong on so many levels that it is difficult to know where to begin with my criticism. Nevertheless, here are just ten reasons why I find his comments to be ill-advised.
The most obvious reason why ignoring deadlines is wrong is simple: politeness. Mr Bratt is in a privileged but public-facing position and in the past he has welcomed new investment. So, is it really that difficult to communicate with potential investors when they ask for a response?
2. Communication is simple
I would assume Mr Bratt has the services of the Vale Park secretary, therefore would it really be too much trouble to draft a quick reply, even if that response is a rejection letter? Would it take any longer than ten or perhaps fifteen minutes to prepare and print a response?
Mr Bratt makes it sound like responding to demands is an ordeal (note the use of the phrase “the club is obliged to jump to attention” which implies that it is an inconvenience). Well, sorry Bill, but this fan *would* expect the club to jump to attention if someone wants an answer on whether his multi-million investment is acceptable.
On a similar note to point three, I would also point out that as Chairman of Port Vale, Bill Bratt is, in effect, the figurehead of Port Vale FC. The Chairman has a duty and responsibility to shareholders and fans to represent the club in a positive light. Snubbing investors means he is failing in that duty.
In our working lives, I am sure we all have to deal with people that we do not like or respect. Regardless of Mr Bratt’s obvious personal issues with Mr Chaudry, there is still no excuse to not treat his enquiries professionally and courteously.
This is a serious enquiry about investment in the club and it should (at the very least) be welcomed and treated with respect, even if this bid does not meet with board approval.
What message would this send to other potential investors if the chairman feels it’s too much work to even deign to reply to a prior investment offer? Snubbing offers will further damage the club’s reputation.
8. What does he expect?
Let’s put ourselves in Mr Chaudry’s position (or indeed that of any other investor). Does Mr Bratt really expect serious businessman to just hang around on the off-chance that their bid is accepted? It is only natural that bidders will impose deadlines both to force the issue and so they can potentially have closure and move onto other matters if the deadline expires.
9. Do unto others…
I am not a Christian (after thirty years of watching Vale, I fall foul of the “taking the Lord’s name in vain” bit too often) but there’s a lot of sense in the Bible verse “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Would Mr Bratt be happy if he asked another party for an answer to a set deadline and was ignored? I doubt it!
10. Making more work, not less
For a couple of years I worked in customer services, dealing with escalated complaints. I was always told that one of the golden rules was “Answer a complaint quickly, preferably with your first communication.” The reasoning was that if you don’t not only is it likely the complainant will send another complaint (taking up more of your time) but they are likely to publicise their complaint which in turn can lead to even more criticism.
This very much applies in this instance. Even if the club do not like the deadlines imposed, they should not simply fail to respond. That is sending out entirely the wrong message and makes the club look both amateurish and arrogant.
In my opinion, by simply ignoring the issue, Mr Bratt isn’t making it go away, he’s actually just making things a whole lot worse for himself.
Rob Fielding has been a Port Vale fan for thirty years. He founded the award-winning onevalefan.co.uk website in 1996. These are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.