Last Wednesday representatives of various supporters groups were invited to meet with Mel Morris and club officials ahead of the new season.
Mel took us through everything that has happened over the past 2 years (and touched on earlier decisions). He intended to sell the club 2 years ago, and has had to continue to subsidise the club ever since then – though he never intended to. This cannot continue in perpetuity.
There are ongoing discussions with a number of potential investors which are at an advanced stage, but are dependent on the conclusion of discussions with the EFL to agree a final deal.
Only once a deal is agreed can investors then apply to EFL Owners & Directors test – which can take an unspecified period of time and will delay a takeover going through. Mel believes this should change to allow investors to apply to the EFL for a ‘licence’ up to an agreed value to take over a club – meaning they can enter final discussions knowing the investors can conclude a deal.
Mel would also fully support a fans consortium to take over the club if it could be arranged (whilst also considering current negotiations are ongoing, so would need to be arranged very quickly).
Discussions with the EFL are ongoing in order to resolve the outstanding issues and lift the transfer embargo.
Mel is frustrated that the club has not fully capitalised on his ongoing investment in the Academy (“£4m per annum”) which has made the Academy rated 8th best Category 1 Academy in the country. He feels more young players should be given first team opportunities, and the current situation may give more young players a chance to progress – in their and the club’s best interests.
The current situation means the club and fans all need to pull together and get behind the team.
The club wants further engagement with supporter representatives in a few weeks time to discuss operational and supporter experience concerns in a ‘post-covid’ environment.
Mel would also support increased engagement with supporter representatives as advisors to the board (he felt now would not be the right time to bring in a formal supporter director given current challenges).
I did not feel he was evasive, although there were some questions which he could not or would not answer (e.g. current total debt figures for the club). Overall all club representatives seemed open and honest – and anxious to alleviate supporters concerns.
Cheers, Jim Wheeler, Chair – RamsTrust.