David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Administration’

At last!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

I can’t tell you how long I have waited to write this. Well, actually, I can. 8 months. 252 days. It’s been a long wait, but I can finally say it.

Port Vale are out of administration.

It feels so good to finally be able to say it, and it caps off what has been a truly fantastic week for the club. While the results on the pitch hit a sticky patch (frittering away two goal leads twice is not what promotion chasing teams should be doing), the unveiling of the Roy Sproson statue on Saturday, and now the finalising of the purchase today has made it a 4-day period to remember. On the subject of Roy, I am so happy that he has finally been recognised for the loyalty he put in at Port Vale. Over his career he made 837 appearances, all for Port Vale. A one club man, and a true legend.

So, where do we go from here? As a fan, it will be nice to be able to concentrate on what is happening on the pitch, instead of the constant worries about off field turmoil. The continued form of Tom Pope is something that no-one saw coming (And indeed, he just broke the record for the quickest Port Vale player to 20 goals in a season) but he will obviously have clubs sniffing around him come the January transfer window.

Micky Adams has worked wonders with a tiny squad, and to continue our form, we really do need to get a couple of squad players in. Having started the season with no recognised left backs in the squad, I would argue that this is the first area that needs looking at, as well as potentially another ball winning midfielder. After that, potentially another striker to complement Pope, as there is always the worry that his goals will dry up.

But who am I to question. I am sure that Micky has a plan, and it will be a lovely change of pace to be able to sit back and watch the football without worrying about who will be balancing the books. We are second in the league, with the best goal difference in the country, and a 4 point cushion to third place, so Micky is obviously doing something right.

As a final thought, I can honestly say that having your team go through the administration process is one of the worst feelings that you will ever have as a football fan. The constant uncertainty, the worries over the very future of your club, it is horrible. I can only hope that, if you are reading this, your club never has to go through it.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

How to enjoy the good times?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

As a Port Vale fan, I am used to highs and lows. Last season, we were flying high in the league, and then Administration hit. 10 points lost, a season over. This has become normality to me, almost like Karma. We won the LDV trophy, then we went into administration at the end of the next season. We are top at Christmas, Micky Adams leaves and we appoint Jim Gannon. So you can appreciate my trepidation at writing this blog. Things seem to be going well at Vale Park, second in the league, top scorers, and playing good football. Things even seem to be progressing on the buyer front, with talk from the administrator that a deal could be completed by the end of October.

So why do I not trust this? I appreciate that form is temporary. Tom Pope, for example, currently sits on nine goals this season. In his 53 appearances for previous club Rotherham, he scored four. No-one expected this start, and I know that as fans, we should appreciate the remarkable job that Micky Adams is doing. He has got the squad of 18 senior players (Including no recognised left back) and has morphed them into a unit capable of winning games. Ashley Vincent and Jennison Myrie-Williams have torn teams apart with their pace, and Louis Dodds seems to have finally found a position that suits him, playing just behind Pope. For the first time in what feels like years, we seem to be playing football that is easy on the eye, is rewarding us with goals and finds us challenging for top spot. I should be cheering from the rooftops, but instead there is that lingering doubt. That word. Administration.

My last blog painted a very sombre picture, worried for the very future of my club. Since then, the administrators have come out and said that the Keith Ryder deal is dead. This is no surprise as many fans assumed that it had died a long time ago, and had stopped holding out hope for it to be resurrected. Since then, the news has been somewhat positive. The supporters club have constantly been in contact with the admin team, and have put fortnightly statements out. While there may not always be the words we want to hear in the statements, the fact that we have them at all is a refreshing change from the shrouded nature of the previous board. Rumours continue to fly around about who the prospective new owners would be, and that is to be expected. Names such as Oliver Ashley (Son of Newcastle United Chairman Mike), Sir Anthony Bamford (Owner of JCB) and the Cauldwell Group (Most notable for Phones4U) While it would be hard to complain at any of those buying Port Vale, I can’t help but think that the rumours will end up being just that.

So, where do we go from here? On the one hand, I am enjoying turning up every week to watch the match. At times last season, that wasn’t happening. Due to a combination of administration, players who looked like they didn’t care, protests and lies from the previous board, I found myself amongst a lot of Vale fans who seemed drained. It is tough to be a football fan at the best of times, let alone when you find yourself staying after matches to protest against the people who, rightly or wrongly, continue to provide you with a football club. Attendances are slowly creeping back up, and we are challenging at the top, but there will always be that nagging doubt. January is fast approaching, and if we are still in administration, what is to stop another club from taking our best players. I am sure the administrator will sell players to balance the books if he has to, as that is his job. Maybe I should just watch the football and forget about the boardroom? Or maybe the life of a lower league fan is a poisoned chalice. Forever cursed with knowing that, no matter the highs, a low is probably just around the corner.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

How to solve a problem like Port Vale…

Monday, August 13th, 2012

For most teams, the off-season brings about some uncertainty, whether that be the comings and goings of players, managers making requests that chairmen won’t allow, or even uncertainty over who the backroom staff will be. As a Vale fan, I wish that I had been able to worry about these things.

Instead, a summer of turbulence has provided more false dawns than I care to remember. When we went into administration, fans were hit with a mixture of trepidation and relief. We had managed to rid ourselves of the people running our club into the ground, but we were in administration. 10 points lost, and a play-off challenge scuppered. What was to come was far worse though.

When the administrator invited bids, we all presumed we knew what was coming. Mo Chaudry, ever vocal about his want to run Port Vale, turned down by the previous board. He would place a bid, be accepted and finally gain control of the club. As ever, the best laid plans didn’t happen. Mo’s bid was not even considered to be within the top two, with the preferred bidder status being placed upon Keith Ryder. What happened then appeared to be a whirlwind of activity. First, Mr Ryder held a meeting with Vale supporters. The intrigue was so high that the clubs suite was full, and fans were left locked outside, wanting to catch a glimpse of our new hero. He spoke all the right words, and many fans walked away happy at the man who was going to take us forward. Playing budgets were discussed, contracts were offered, the CVA was agreed (An essential part of administration, stopping us having further points deductions) and everything was going smoothly. Journalists were getting ready for their awful puns for the headlines (Knight Ryder being my personal favourite).

And then, silence.

We were told that Mr Ryder had to go through the fit and proper persons test. We waited. And waited. And the more we waited, the more nervous we got. Two months after the CVA, we were told that all that needs to happen is that Mr Ryder needs to put the money into his solicitor’s hands. We are still waiting. Personal problems at Mr Ryder’s end are blamed, but for all intents and purposes, the deal looks dead. The administrators have had to pledge to keep the club running for the year. The players had to sign new contracts, often with changed lengths (All players were only offered a one year deal) and there was a moment where we worried if players who we had signed were going to walk away. Thankfully, only one did (David Artell, Northamptons new centre half) and the rest have signed up, but where do we go from here? There are bidders back in the frame, but the silence is deafening. Up until Monday, we don’t even have a kit for the new season, although that is expected to be debuted against Burnley (And rumour has it that it is pink. How fun that will be to wear around darkest Stoke) Times are turbulent, but I guess as a Vale fan, this is what we are used to.

Whatever the next season brings off the pitch, it is on the pitch where points are won. While top scorer Marc Richards and influential midfielder Anthony Griffith have left, Micky Adams seems to have assembled a team who can at least challenge for the play-offs. Richard Duffy joined from Exeter, Jennison Myrie-Williams and Darren Murphy joined from Stevenage, while Ashley Vincent, also joined. Adding in previous non-contract player Chris Shuker means that we have, potentially, a team that can do well. We look like we may be short on goals, but Micky Adams seems to be the master of getting results from very few resources.

My only hope for this season is that off-field issues don’t scupper any potential promotion challenge, and that a deal for ownership of Port Vale goes through. If not, this could be the last season that we get to see Port Vale gracing the league.

Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster

To move forward, sometimes you must step back

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

So it’s official. Port Vale have a High Court hearing to go into administration on Friday. I sit here now, not in shock, but relieved. This may seem an odd feeling to have when an event like this happens, but to call this situation odd would be to do a disservice to just how badly Port Vale fans have been treated. While I could spend pages upon pages describing what has happened, the basic facts speak for themselves, and make horrible reading:

- £140,000 unpaid tax bill
- £3,500,000 debt.
- A fan poll showed 97% of fans wanted the board to leave.
- Combined salary of CEO and Chairman topping £200k + perks.

These figures wouldn’t seem so bad were we in the Championship, and we all know of clubs higher up the pecking order who operate with much larger debt, but to a team such as Port Vale, this was crippling. This lack of professionalism came to a head on Tuesday of last week, when the players, assured of payment at the normal time of midnight, were told at 10pm that they weren’t going to be paid. The board didn’t have the decency to tell them this, instead they had to be told by Micky Adams. In fact, only one member of staff was paid throughout the club on Wednesday, that person being the CEO himself, one Perry Deakin.

But now, thankfully, we have the chance of a fresh start. These are turbulent times ahead, and while there will be a glass raised at the departing of the board (Whose surnames form the catchy, and all too fitting, acronym MOLD), the real problems now begin. The cash flow is in such a poor state, the local council are having to give the club a cash injection of around £600k to allow us to continue to trade. It is going to be rough times ahead, no-one can doubt that, but now that the failed experiment that was Valiant 2001 is finally being removed from the club that I love, we have a chance to move forward.

On a personal note, it has been a turbulent few years for fans of Port Vale, and special praise must go to the Port Vale Supporters Club for taking the fight to the board. Without them, I may not have been able to blog about Port Vale, as I may not have had a club to support…..

“The night is always darkest, just before the dawn”


Written by Steve Donaldson, We Are Going Up’s Port Vale Blogger

Steve tweets at @the_vogster