Wrexham FC fans concern as developer set for stake in club
Oct 7 2008 by Mark Currie, Daily Post
WREXHAM FC bosses last night denied suggestions they could pocket the profits from selling off land around the Racecourse, as they confirmed property developer Ian Roberts is to join the board of directors.
The owner of Ruthin-based Roberts Homes is expected to join existing directors Paul Retout and Paul Atkinson in buying the majority of shares from owner Geoff Moss, who currently has a 100% stake.
It means all four men will eventually form the board, with Moss retaining a minority shareholding.
But the news sparked fears yesterday among supporters, who feared the directors could pocket the profits from any land sale instead of paying off the clubs multi-million pound debts.
In a newsletter to its 700-plus members, Wrexham Supporters Trust gave details of a meeting its representatives held with Racecourse directors Paul Retout and Paul Atkinson.
The supporters trust says it was told the clubs current owner Geoff Moss is shortly expected to relinquish the majority of his 100% stake in the club.
And following the appointment of a new director, Ian Roberts, the club would submit a fresh planning application to construct 300 student flats.
The Trust is concerned that if the developer was a major shareholder and director of Wrexham, the profits from the development would go into the club and could then be taken out by its shareholders.
But last night Mr Retout insisted the Trusts fears were unjustified.
He said strict planning conditions (Section 106) imposed by the local authority meant any profit from the development must in the councils words, ‹Å“benefit the club in its necessity to build a new Kop stand and clear existing debts‹Å“.
The Trust, which has been rebuffed in its efforts to buy shares in the club, disagreed.
There is a world of difference between the owners original stated intention to sell some land to a developer and the owners current plan, it said.
The club has now become the de-facto developer of the site and the stated intention of our board is to channel the profits from the development into the club.
This money could be taken out of the club by the shareholders as profits, thereby sidestepping the councils requirement.
Acknowledging that fans were concerned at the prospect of another Alex Hamilton scenario when the former owner was prevented from selling the Racecourse only because of opposition from supporters and the club going into administration Mr Retout said: I fully understand where the Trust is coming from.
But the purpose of the Section 106 is precisely to prevent the possibility of anyone coming in to asset strip the club. And I can assure the Trust that everything is going to be transparently clear when the detailed planning application goes in.
Mr Retout conceded they would receive some recompense from the completed development. But he added: The council is looking to protect the stadium and all the directors of the club have its best interests at heart.