Morecambe FC bosses united ahead of sale talks

Morecambe FC chiefs are back on the same page after a rocky week when it was revealed that at least two offers are on the table to buy the cash-strapped club.

Monday, 30th October 2017, 10:56 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 4:24 am
Graham Burnard and Graham Howse.

Representatives of the club’s owning company and the board of directors will look at the takeover bids for the struggling Shrimps at a crunch meeting at the Globe Arena on Wednesday – days after they smoothed over cracks in their relationship.

It has not been revealed who the would-be purchasers are.

Meanwhile Rod Taylor, long-standing board member at Morecambe FC, said he would be willing to resign if it would benefit the club.

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Rod Taylor.

Mr Taylor also called on Shrimps fans to rally behind the team at this coming Saturday’s FA Cup First Round match with Hartlepool United at the Globe Arena because he said a good cup run could be worth more than £1m to the cash-strapped side.

The Shrimps, currently second from bottom of League Two, had been enjoying a period of behind-the-scenes stability after last season’s off-field chaos, which included late payments of staff wages and an ownership crisis.

But tensions resurfaced on Thursday when Durham businessman Graham Burnard, whose company G50 owns an 82 per cent controlling stake in Morecambe FC, said he’d received a takeover offer which was on condition that the board resigns.

Issues were resolved the following day when Mr Taylor and fellow director Graham Howse met with Mr Burnard and his son Jordan.

Rod Taylor.

Later, they put out a joint statement which acknowledged a “lack of communication and understanding by the two parties” and said that issues had been “fully addressed and resolved” and that Mr Burnard conceded his statement had been made “slightly in haste”.

It also said staff had been paid on time for October despite “speculation about possible non-payment” and that some of the club directors had put money in to ensure wages were paid.

Mr Burnard’s original statement, released on Thursday evening, said his potential buyer was prepared to pay off all football creditors, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the club’s overdraft and then continue funding the Shrimps.

It also said that Abdulrahman Al-Hashemi, the Qatari businessman who has been keeping the club afloat in recent months, “is willing to secure the future of the club, to agree that G50 Holdings sold for £1 and to forego repayment of his loans”.

The offer was on condition that the directors, headed by chairman Peter McGuigan, give up their loans and resign, and that the purchaser gained an exclusivity agreement to allow the English Football League (EFL) to approve the takeover.

“If this offer of refinancing is accepted, the wages will be paid next week and Graham will continue, as the person approved by the EFL, to run the club until the transaction is completed,” the statement continued.

“However the board have rejected this offer and say that they have another purchaser and that there will be a board meeting next week.

“This is too little too late when the club is faced with paying wages and HMRC and if not paid the only alternative is administration, resulting in a 12-point automatic deduction and EFL withholding league distributions and solidarity payments which is the lifeline of the club.”

A spokesman for Morecambe Football Club’s directors then said that Mr McGuigan and Mr Burnard had spoken on Thursday afternoon about the offer and they had agreed to a meeting “to agree the way forward”.

But, they said they had no idea Mr Burnard was going to release a statement and the subject of the board resigning hadn’t been discussed.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Taylor said: “There is more than one offer out there.

“On Wednesday we’re going to look at everything that’s on the table and see where we go from there.

“I think you’ve got to consider everything, as long as it’s right for the club and financially secure.

“If it was to the betterment of the club, I would resign. It’s not about individuals. It’s about the continuation of the football club.

“We need the fans to come and support us on Saturday. Last season Lincoln City made over £1m from their cup run. It’s as simple as that.”

Mr Taylor also said that none of the offers were from controversial Italian businessman Joseph Cala, whose takeover bid earlier this year caused uproar at the Globe Arena.