Insolvency practitioner pressing Spireites to prove they can meet financial obligations
Chesterfield are being pressed by an insolvency practitioner to prove they can meet their financial obligations, according to company secretary Ashley Carson.
Speaking on a live broadcast this evening and answering questions alongside CEO Chris Turner and director John Croot, Carson also revealed that Dave Allen was the source of the £200k loan to meet last month’s shortfall.
“At the moment we’re steady for this month, but going forward we’ve still got rough waters to go through,” he said.
“We’re by no means home and dry.
“The next four weeks are very critical to knowing where the future of the club goes.
“The insolvency practitioners are closely monitoring the situation and pressing me to convince them the club can meet its financial commitments.”
But Begbies Traynor, the insolvency firm advising the club, will not accept potential player sales in January as proof that the club can continue to trade.
“They’re not interested in possible transfer fees,” said Carson.
“It only takes a player to break a leg and that player is not for sale in January.
“They need more concrete facts and tangible assets to see the club going forward but unfortunately at the minute we haven’t got that in place.”
A £50k loan from the Co-op Bank is due to be repaid in December, but the money owed to the widow of former chairman Barrie Hubbard is being paid back on terms agreed between the club and Janet Hubbard.
Fans submitted questions in advance of the broadcast, including queries over the first charge on the stadium which was confirmed as going to A&S Leisure, Allen’s firm.
Carson said that negotiations were ongoing with the four directors who quit in the wake of Allen’s resignation, but insisted none had applied to get their loans back from the club.
The company secretary said: “All four are using the same solicitor which makes it easier, but one of them is on holiday in India so it’s difficult to negotiate at the minute.
“None of the four have applied to take their debentures out but for the long term stability we need to know where we stand with the four ex directors.”
On the source of the money that kept the club afloat last month, Carson said: “I had to borrow money from somwhere.
“With three days to go the bank balance was £132k and we had quite a few bills to pay of over £100k and we had the wages of around £220k.
“There was only one place to go and that was Dave Allen.
“He loaned me the money to put into the club with the insistence that he gets it back quickly.”
It was revealed that Allen has loaned the club £5.8m since 2011, showing how often he’s had to go into his pocket to keep the club running.
On the issue of the club’s outgoings, Croot told the broadcast Chesterfield are not overstaffed, while Turner said they were 17th in the League One table for player wages – Town shelling out just shy of £2.5m per year in that department.
Turner spoke in favour of the club’s academy and insisted they’re now seeing the fruits of big changes made in recent years, but admitted its costs would have to be looked at along with everything else at the club due to its current financial situation.
He also revealed that Glasgow Rangers have been invited for a glamour friendly to celebrate the Spireites’ 150th anniversary, but warned if that or another big fixture came off, fans would have to support it by attending in numbers to help cover any costs.
On the subject of the 150th celebrations, Carson said the gala ball at Chatsworth had ‘totally failed’ and did not deliver for the ordinary fan, but said the club wishes to make amends if fans are willing to let them.
And when Turner was questioned about his own position and performance as CEO, he said in his defence: “When I was employed in 2011 my remit was to raise the profile – we were in the bottom three in League One and eventually relegated.
“Dave Allen brought me here to improve the playing squad, upgrade football in general, to bring in tighter financial controls across the board and I’ve done that.
“I’ve introduced a lot of different policies, the credit cards the management team had were withdrawn, petty cash going out is now less than £2k, it was £7k.
“(My remit) is to generally try and get a successful football team out there.
“I’ve brought in unprecedented revenue in player sales, I believe I’ve got big fees for players.
“I report to the board, I give them reports and have had great relationships with every board member.
“Dave Allen doesn’t tolerate fools and if I was a fool I wouldn’t be sitting here tonight.”
Turner also said he had questioned several years ago who had budgeted for the club to move to the Proact and wondered aloud whether the club would have millions in the bank thanks to player sales, had they remained at their old ground Saltergate: “Someone should have sat down and said we can’t afford to go.
“By coming down here we’ve been behind a black ball since day one.”
As for potential new investors, Carson told fans there was no one ringing up offering financial help and Croot added that names like Steve Perez had cropped up, but his belief was that the rally driver and entrepreneur had no interest in football.
Finally Turner stated his belief that in Danny Wilson Chesterfield have the right manager and once injuries have cleared up he’ll have a competitive squad to work with, and the CEO expressed hope that a fix can be found for the club’s financial woes so vultures don’t get the chance to swoop for talented Town players in January.