Confusion over who owns Morecambe Football Club

The Globe Arena in Morecambe.

The Globe Arena in Morecambe.

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Question marks have been revealed over the ownership of Morecambe FC as confusion continues to surround the football club.

Lawyers have been called in to resolve who actually now owns the club as it remains in the grip of a financial crisis.

Diego Lemos.

Diego Lemos.

The issue of ownership came up after a North East-based tax consultant became new sole director of a firm which bought a controlling stake in the club last year.

G50 Holdings Limited, based at Morton House in Durham, bought the shares from Shrimps chairman and former owner Peter McGuigan last September.

Diego Lemos, the football agent from Brazil who was unveiled as Morecambe FC’s new owner at the time, was then director of G50 Holdings.

But Companies House, the government’s official companies register, lists Mr Lemos as having resigned as a director on January 11.

Peter McGuigan.

Peter McGuigan.

Companies House now lists the firm’s director as tax consultant Graham Samuel Burnard who became a director on January 10.

Mr McGuigan, who met with Mr Burnard for the first time last week, said: “We can try to solve the mess but part of it is who owns Morecambe FC?

“The board is in a very very difficult position.”

Directors say Mr Lemos has been uncontactable since mid-November and has failed to provide promised investment into the club.

Mr McGuigan said he blamed Mr Lemos for the club’s current problems.

“We now realise the extent of the damage caused,” said Mr McGuigan.

“We are now looking at ways and means of bringing the club back to reality.”

The newspaper has tried to contact Mr Lemos through his last known representatives but as yet we have received no reply.

Mr McGuigan also said the board would not be continuing talks with Joseph Cala, a US-based Italian businessman who was interested in buying Morecambe FC.

Mr Cala, who showed interest in buying Portsmouth FC in 2012, met with Globe Arena officials last week.

Mr Cala, CEO and founder of Houston-based luxury hotel and resort chain Cala Corp, said his partners would invest in Morecambe FC but only if the board of directors resigned.

He said he felt Morecambe FC needed £2m to get back to being “healthy”.

“I want to purchase a British football club but I feel the club needs investment on the pitch,” said Mr Cala, speaking from London on Monday.

“There is too much concentrating on catering and weddings. The clubhouse has become a wedding hall. It should not be that way. Fans go to watch football.

“I wanted to turn the club into a world class club. The club needs money. My suggestion was for the directors to resign and then we have a group to invest in the club.”

Mr McGuigan said positive talks were continuing with Abdulrahman Al-Hashemi, the Qatari businessman who resigned as Morecambe FC co-chairman in December.

Mr Al-Hashemi, who became co-chairman shortly after Mr Lemos’ takeover of the club, said at the time of his resignation that he would be “working with Peter McGuigan and the board on a consortium basis to find a way to restructure and refinance the club”.

Mr McGuigan also said he was “feeling confident” that Morecambe FC staff and players would be paid on time at the end of January.

He said the directors had a meeting to discuss this today (Monday).

Mr Lemos became majority shareholder of Morecambe FC in September and promised “great things” for the club.

But the first inkling of a major crisis came in October 2016 when staff and player wages were paid late.

Mr Lemos apologised and said he was “committed to taking the club forward”.

But he has not been seen at the Globe Arena since mid-November.

Two directors then resigned in December - Mr Al-Hashemi and Nigel Adams, long-term Morecambe FC vice-chairman, who resigned citing a lack of financial information from majority shareholder Mr Lemos.

The club is currently operating under a transfer embargo and a company linked to the Globe Arena, PMG Leisure Ltd, has gone into administration.

PMG Leisure ran the all-weather football pitches at the Globe which were used by the youth teams and hired out to the public for football matches.

The pitches and an associated building were closed by administrators last week.

On Saturday, Morecambe FC Community Sports said it remained “fully operational” despite the closure of the facilities.

“Morecambe Football Club’s successful community trust will continue to run as normal despite the current closure of the premises,” said the statement on the Morecambe FC website.

“Staff have moved to another area at the Globe Arena and will continue to operate all its successful schemes in local schools and community sites.

“The Trust will look at alternative venues if necessary for some of its operations but will promote any changes widely.”

If anyone would like to get in touch with the Community Trust please contact them on 01524 411797.