Morecambe supporters set to meet club owner

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Morecambe’s supporters’ group is preparing to meet the club’s owner tonight amid another summer of upheaval at the Mazuma Mobile Stadium.

Shrimps Trust representatives will have a virtual meeting on Friday with Bond Group’s Jason Whittingham, who put the club up for sale in September 2022 but hasn’t managed to offload it since.

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A request for questions from Trust members has seen somewhere between 40 and 50 submitted ahead of the meeting.

Bond Group's Jason Whittingham is Morecambe's ownerBond Group's Jason Whittingham is Morecambe's owner
Bond Group's Jason Whittingham is Morecambe's owner
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That response was described as ‘amazing’ by Trust chairman Richard Allan, who has no preconceived idea as to what will be said tonight.

Asked what he hoped to hear from the owner, he said: “The fans’ overwhelming opinion is that all they want to hear is he’s either won the EuroMillions and is going to spend £2m on making us a viable business proposition – or he’s sold it.

The Trust has regularly been asking him to meet us and at least he’s now doing that – and it’s our job to give him the same fair hearing as we give the board of directors each month.”

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Last week saw the club’s board of directors call on Whittingham to accept an ‘apparently serious offer’ from a US-based potential buyer.

It’s the second time in five months they have publicly challenged the owner, following on from December’s statement outlining their lack of confidence in the sale process.

Usually, when a club owner is unpopular, that also extends to the board but the oddity of Morecambe’s position is the directors aren’t the ones coming in for any criticism.

Instead, they have overseen the club’s development into what should be an attractive proposition; culminating in last week’s highest EFL Family Excellence rating yet.

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Allan said: “I think they should be knighted frankly; they work for nothing and all have their own businesses and families to look after.

“They are working with the owner the club has but, since Charlie (Appleyard) and James (Wakefield) came in, we’ve had three FA Cup third rounds, we’ve been promoted, we’ve stayed up and sold nearly £2m worth of footballers.

“Ben Sadler (CEO) has come in and, having been bottom of every single customer experience, that’s improved massively and we have a professional-looking club shop that makes money.

“Of course, Rod Taylor and Graham Howse (co-chairmen), who have been doing this since well before a chunk of the fan base were even born, continue to work tirelessly in the background.

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“The biggest compliment I can pay them is I used to have to drag people to Morecambe with me.

“Now they want to come because the bar is busy, the food offering is great and everything has been done to make it feel like we’re going to a proper football club.”

The Shrimps aren’t unique as a club in experiencing tough times but, as the Trust has found out, situations like these are when fans join together – irrespective of their loyalties.

“We’ve spoken to lots of other Trusts who have been in similar positions and you wouldn’t believe how much people want to help,” Allan added.

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“The FSA (Football Supporters’ Association) have been very keen to try and help, while Portsmouth and Blackpool – among others – couldn’t have been more helpful, especially when we started the Trust.

“Bearing in mind Blackpool were boycotting because of the Oyston situation, they came along and helped us set everything up.

“Reading and Sheffield Wednesday have both reached out recently. The football family has really rallied around.”