Company secretary Ashley Carson has provided answers to questions relating to the proposed sale of the club to Chesterfield FC Community Trust.
Please provide a background to the takeover talks with the Community Trust…
AC: A sale price had been agreed in principle with both the supporters’ consortium and Community Trust. Depending on when completion could be made would have an influence on how much they paid, but both agreements equated to approximately the same amount of money.
At their own cost, the Community Trust provided Heads of Terms (something no other potential purchaser had produced). This was signed and entered into and completed by all parties on January 1, 2020.
All parties are the shareholders who will be transferring their shares on the completion of the club sale: Dave Allen, Sue Roberts, Ashley Carson and Mike Warner.
We were led to believe at the time of signing that the funding was confirmed and the Trust went out publicly to confirm this, however we were not privy to the details of the funding.
As Dave Allen and I wanted to conclude the deal as soon as possible, we funded an additional accountant, appointed by the Trust, to assist them in completing their due diligence as soon as possible, with the hope that we would be able to complete the sale before the Wrexham match on February 8.
What is the purpose of the due diligence process?
AC: Due diligence is for the Trust to be satisfied that the club’s finances are all correct and there are no undeclared warranties or outstanding liabilities. The process also involves a business plan being put together to justify the purchase and the running of the club to their funders and also to the National League.
What is the position now, as you understand it?
AC: Two weeks ago, the Trust’s chairman, Mike Goodwin, informed me that they would now not be able to meet the February 14 deadline, due to funding issues and timeframes for the release of the necessary funds.
The Trust met Michael Tattersall (CEO of the National League) on Thursday, January 9. Following this meeting, I was informed that one of the funders had pulled out, therefore now leaving the Trust with a shortage of funds to complete the deal. I now understand that at this point there were five funding parties involved.
Why was the period of exclusivity agreement waived?
AC: As the Trust’s plans have had to be revised, they felt it was only right to no longer hold us to the agreement and have now legally removed this covenant.
From your point of view, what is the current position regarding the takeover?
AC: Dave Allen and I remain committed to wanting the fans to take ownership of the club. Every month that goes by means that Dave needs to inject a minimum of £150,000 into the club. This month it will be over £200,000.
I am still working closely with the Community Trust and remain hopeful that a deal can be concluded with them, but I am now also talking to other potential purchasers again - including the supporters’ consortium - and we will sell the club to whoever is first over the line with the necessary funds.
Who will be responsible for paying the money owed to John Sheridan following his departure from the club?
AC: For clarification, the termination of John Sheridan’s contract will be absorbed into the monthly running costs of the club going forward until paid up. To date we have still not reached an amicable settlement.
I am still working closely with the Community Trust and remain hopeful that a deal can be concluded with them, but I am now also talking to other potential purchasers again, including the supporters’ consortium and we will sell the club to whoever is first over the line with the necessary funds.