After a 72 hour period of incredible drama, OVF editor Rob Fielding believes most fans will want an end to the soap opera.
Rob Fielding writes…
If like me, you’ve witnessed the traumatic events of two spells in administration, you’ll be forgiven for hoping for a prolonged period of stability for the football club. Sadly, following recent events, it appears that stability could be a long way away.
For those in need of a catch-up of events since Sunday: we’ve had an awful cup defeat to Exeter; the owner speaking to fans on a supporters’ coach – comments interpreted as “we’re getting a new manager” – then a denial that manager Rob Page would be sacked by owner Norman Smurthwaite (although manager Page hardly received a ringing endorsement from the chairman); then we’ve had tweets from Norman Smurthwaite that he doesn’t feel he’s the “man to take Vale forward” followed by his revelation live on local radio that the club is up for sale.
Phew! Most clubs wouldn’t have that in a season. For unsurprised Vale fans, used to a soap opera at Vale Park, the above events have all occurred in less than 72 hours.
I guess the key question now is – if Smurthwaite is determined to sell, who, if anyone, would be willing to take the club off him and will they be the right owners for the club?
Norman has courted controversy and praise since he took over. There have been unedifying rows with local newspapers, frequent tweets and complaints about attendances but there have also been many moments of largesse such as adding additional funds to secure players (not something to be taken lightly) and some sensible long-term measures such as improving the floodlights, building a new club shop and the (albeit still controversial) more modern ticketing methods. Should he leave in the near future his legacy will be establishing Vale in League One, with better facilities than ever and also providing a stark contrast to previous regimes with his unfettered and direct pronouncements to fans and media alike. He has been a character and I would argue, one who has taken the club forward.
Now, the future of the club rests firmly in Norman Smurthwaite’s hands. If he decides to sell, it is crucial that it is to the right person – someone who has the resources, knowledge and determination to be at the helm long-term and to take the club forward. Smurthwaite aside, we’ve had enough owners promising much and delivering little to want to add another to the list.
Some fans will no doubt dream of rich, committed owners with a vision who can take the club to the next level. My worry would be – what if there is no interest in the club? What happens then?
I sincerely hope that we are not drawn into a long period where the club is “for sale” but there are no serious takers. After all, with two administrations since 2003, what Vale really needs right now is less drama and more stability.