Morecambe owner: Four buyers interested in takeover

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Morecambe owner Jason Whittingham maintains there are four ‘credible buyers’ interested in a possible acquisition of the club.

He made the claim when answering a series of questions put to him by members of the Shrimps Trust fans group.

Whittingham put the club up for sale in September 2022 but hasn’t completed a deal for someone to take it off his hands.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That limbo has seen the owner strongly criticised by supporters, the board of directors and former manager Ged Brannan before his departure to Accrington Stanley last month.

Bond Group's Jason WhittinghamBond Group's Jason Whittingham
Bond Group's Jason Whittingham
Read More
Back for a third spell in charge

Responding to questions concerning the number of legitimate bids and a possible US-based buyer, Whittingham said: “There have been two legitimate bids where a proof of funds have been showed (sic).

“Unfortunately one of those bids was withdrawn recently due to some of the comments on social media and statements from the club.

“These statements have a huge impact on the ability to sell the club and can be quite damaging to the sale process.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Another reason for contacting the ST was in an effort to calm the waters whilst Bond Group make every effort to find the right buyer for the club.

“There remains interest from a US buyer and conversations are ongoing.

“Further to this we are engaged with four credible buyers, details of whom have been shared and discussed with the board.”

As well as the identity of possible buyers, another of the great unknowns is how much Whittingham wants in order to complete a sale.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Figures ranging from £5m to £10m have been mentioned on social media, while former CEO Ben Sadler – replying to a question on X in mid-May – said there was serious interest in the club ‘but nothing moves a single inch until the owner accepts an offer!’

Quizzed on what the asking price was, Whittingham responded: “There is no specific asking price.

“Bond Group paid for an independent valuation which gives a ‘bricks and mortar’ valuation as well as a ‘going concern’ valuation.

“The going concern valuation gives any potential buyer a guide and it is then down to a negotiation as to whether their offer price is above or below that figure.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Whittingham, who also claimed it was ‘highly doubtful’ Bond Group would own the club beyond the next six months, provided those responses ahead of the Shrimps Trust’s third attempt at holding a virtual meeting with him, arranged for Tuesday.

It should have been held on Tuesday of last week but, at the owner’s request, was postponed until Friday before he then sought a new date this week.

As well as communicating with the Shrimps Trust, Whittingham has also provided written answers to questions from the i regarding Morecambe’s future – which came against the backdrop of the Trust’s ‘Save Our Shrimps’ launch last weekend.

More than £7,500 has already been donated to the fundraising initiative, which aims to generate enough money so it can have a financial stake in the club and attempt to secure its future – or ‘protect the existence of a football club in Morecambe should the worst happen.’

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When asked what had prompted his recent communication with the fans’ body, Whittingham said: “The reason for contacting the Shrimps Trust is to address some of the extremely one-sided narrative in the press, social media and, indeed, some of the club’s communications.

“I have remained quiet but feel that there is now too much that is simply untrue and is also affecting the ability to sell the club.”

However, while Whittingham provided replies of varying length to 15 of the 17 questions put to him, there was no response to a query asking if Bond Group’s financial position was reliant on a club sale realising a certain value – and how much of a barrier that was to accepting a realistic asking price.

In addition, a reply wasn’t received to another question asking if he intended to replenish the emergency fund/deposit account, as instructed by the EFL in August 2023, and if the levied fines had been settled.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That doesn’t exactly address concerns of supporters who have seen the club pay wages late on two occasions in the last year-and-a-quarter, as well as being hit by a three-point deduction and having to work under an HMRC-related embargo in the latter stages of this season.

Whittingham claimed some of that frustration has boiled over on social media, something which the club’s co-chairman – Graham Howse – condemned at February’s fans’ forum and isn’t condoned by the Trust.

He said: “On a final note, and with regards to social media. I have received some utterly disgusting messages from some ‘supporters’ of the club as have my family members and friends, one of which is subject to a police matter and possible investigation.

“The level of this has at times made me question why I continue to fund the club. Targeting my family is both cowardly and intolerable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The level of that abuse is such that it has been reported to the club, who will deal with the matter in the same way they would if it were abuse of an employee.

“The club has specific policies about this, which will be applied to the individuals responsible.”

Related topics: