New Wrexham bosses ‘have best interests of club at heart’

Reporter:

Garth ApThomas

UNCERTAINTY and concern has greeted news that Wrexham FC has a new chairman and is set to have new owners.

A statement issued yesterday afternoon said Wrexham Village Ltd had agreed an option with a new company to buy the Reds “as soon as possible”, with The Racecourse ground and Colliers Park training facilities to follow.

The new men at the helm are former Macclesfield Town finance director Robert Bickerton as chairman and Tony Allan as a director and chief executive.

Outgoing chairman Ian Roberts and director Geoff Moss are stepping down to become vice-presidents.

Mr Bickerton yesterday pledged any decisions the new board members take will be with the best interests of the club at heart.

He said: “Tony Allan and I are honoured and humbled to join the board of directors of Wrexham FC.

“As the new guardians of the club – Tony as chief executive and I as chairman – we have a very simple ambition, which is to create a sound financial footing for the club and to also secure the stadium.

“In this way, we can provide the stable platform required to ensure the long term and give the best chance of gaining a higher league status.

“We start today and are committed to the cause. We invite support and welcome opinion.

“We will need time and may get some things wrong.

“However, we can guarantee any decisions we make will be those that we believe to be in the best interests of the club. We have no other motive.

“We look forward to meeting supporters and building a passion for the club.

“Having been to Mansfield on Saturday and seen such a fine display, this is not likely to take too long.”

The statement issued by the football club said: “Wrexham Village Ltd announces that it has agreed an option with Van Morton Investments Ltd to allow it to purchase Wrexham FC as soon as possible and at a later stage the stadium and training ground.

“As a result of this Robert Bickerton has joined the board of directors as chairman and Tony Allan has joined the board as a director. He will also take on responsibility for running the club as chief executive.

“Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts will be stepping down from the board and will become vice-presidents.

“Robert has previously served on the board of directors at Macclesfield Town FC, in the roles of finance director and chairman, and also on the board of directors of Shrewsbury Town FC as manager director.

“Tony Allan, who began his administrative career with Notts County, has also served Wigan Athletic, Chester City and Port Vale as secretary.

“Van Morton Investments is a recently formed company, the purpose of which is to attract and provide Wrexham FC with funding.

“All parties will work towards a smooth transition in change of ownership and ensure that nothing prevents the continued good work of the team, management and staff.

“Further statements will be made in due course.”

Leader comment

WEIGHING up your team’s prospects for the rest of the season at this pivotal stage of the football calendar used to be a fairly straightforward challenge.

Current form was the principal indicator, with the injury list, remaining fixtures, quality of the fringe players and the manager’s transfer budget also needing to be factored into the equation.

These days supporters are increasingly expected to possess the tenacity, cunning and contacts book of an investigative journalist, the business knowledge and intuition of a corporate analyst and the psychic powers of a clairvoyant.

As Wrexham chase a sixth consecutive Blue Square Premier victory against Altrincham tonight, on paper at least, the Reds’ prospects appear brighter than at any time since relegation from the Football League three seasons ago.

Of course, as any crusty old pundit who knows their cliché from their offside rule will tell you, matches aren’t played on paper. Wrexham’s problem is that players and fans alike must sometimes feel they are not even playing on grass, more on constantly shifting sands.

After Saturday’s victory at Mansfield, manager Dean Saunders said he did not expect to be working for new owners in the immediate future. “I would have known if the club was sold,” he insisted.

But less than 48 hours later came the announcement of a pending takeover by Van Morton Investments Ltd, described with some understatement as “a recently formed company”. So recent in fact, that it does not yet appear in the online records of Companies House.

Throw in the traumatic immediate history of The Racecourse outfit and the fact that the CVs of the only two members of the new regime as yet named include Chester City and Macclesfield Town – clubs who have also endured recent turbulent times – and it is unsurprising that residents in the Mold Road area are not exactly being deafened by the mass explosion of popping champagne corks.

Last month’s shock revelation that The Racecourse has been used as security against loans to remove the Crusaders rugby league club from administration has left Wrexham fans still waiting for answers. All they seem to be getting though is more questions, while the internet forums all but drown in a toxic cocktail of wild rumour, cynicism and conspiracy theories.

Chief among their concerns is the future of The Racecourse itself. Yesterday’s statement included the pledge that Van Morton will have the option to buy the stadium at a future date. It is unclear, though, how this will be possible when it is already effectively mortgaged to the Rugby Football League.

New chairman Robert Bickerton speaks of creating a “sound financial footing”, a “stable platform” and “gaining a higher league status”. The soundbites hit the right notes, but in an age of instant communication and information at the click of a mouse, supporters are sufficiently ‘savvy’ and self-assertive to demand more than mere promises.

If they want the fans to share their vision, Wrexham’s new owners must now put them fully in the picture.

See full story in the Leader

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