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After nearly 11 months, Julian Garforth, the Interim Financial Director appointed on 9 March 2012 by the Administrators of Port Vale Football Club, has completed the handover of all financial and strategic matters to the new ownership team from Alchemy Investment Group.
The intervening 11 months has seen a revival in the fortunes of the Potteries based club who have had to live, recently, in the shadow of their well financed, Premiership neighbours, Stoke City. When Port Vale were unable to pay the wages in February 2012 it was left to Stoke on Trent Council to put the club into Administration. The uncertainty for the players, management and staff was tangible and the 10 points deduction imposed by the Football League dropped the club out of contention for promotion.
Reflecting on the past 11 months Julian said:
‘In May 2012, Keith Ryder was announced as the preferred bidder, giving the club a significant boost. The manager, Micky Adams, brought in 5 key players in the close season, only for the Ryder bid to fail late in July 2012 when the finance to complete the acquisition did not materialise.
‘A plan to keep the club alive and trading was presented to the Football League so that the club could fulfil its fixtures in the 2012/13 season. At this stage, the players were asked to agree to modified contracts. With only hours to go before the closure of the registration window, the club only had 5 players. Eventually, the players signed but the club was still a long way from being ready for the impending new season.
‘What the manager needed now was time to prepare the squad, without any commercial or financial distractions. As a result of the hiatus in the sale process, no commercial contracts had been signed and the club had no playing kit. With the Capital One cup match against Burnley scheduled for 14 August 2012 time was tight but team wear provider Sondico Professional came to the rescue.
‘With the news that the club would continue, other commercial deals were concluded, covering, for example, ground catering, corporate hospitality, brewery supplies and programme production. Season ticket sales went well, selling over 3,000, and the Executive box-holders showed their support and commitment by renewing their deals, despite some of them having lost money as a result of the Administration.
‘The start of the League 2 campaign was positive, both in terms of the results and in terms of the style of play, and this contributed to new bidders coming forward when the sale process recommenced. In the end, the club could have been sold to any one of 3 bidders but it was Alchemy Investment Group that secured the preferred bidder status.
‘This time the deal was completed, in time for the 4-0 win against Bristol Rovers, and since then the club has held top spot in the League 2 table and this was a testimony to the efforts of all the staff.
‘The success is a clear indication that with the right approach, strong cash controls and good management that it is possible to overcome the adversity of insolvency.’