Tom Davies takes a look at four clubs in the news for the wrong reasons
The controversial Tony Petty is still in charge at Swansea after winning a legal battle with the former City captain Mel Nurse on November 23. Trouble began after Petty bought the club from the previous owners, Ninth Floor (effectively former chairman Mike Lewis), for £1 in September and promptly tried to sack or reduce the wages of 15 members of staff . “If the players’ contracts had been continued, there would not be a club here,” he claimed.
The club’s supporters, the PFA and Nurse were all stung into action by Petty’s actions and his provocative statements: “I’m in Wales for the foreseeable future and am ready to ram a few things down peoples’ throats,” he warned.
Nurse, a director of the club, had acquired a large part of the club’s debt and went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to make Petty to repay a sum of £800,000 immediately, which in turn would have forced the club into administration and opened the way for a new consortium of which Nurse would be chairman.
While City’s fortunes rose on the pitch during the dispute, the more the Swansea public heard of Petty’s colourful business links, the less they liked him. His associate John Shuttleworth was shown to have close connections to the Teresa May porn business and narrowly escaped attack from punters in a Swansea nightclub. Petty’s own interests lie mainly in Australia, where he is president of the Queensland Soccer Federation. “I’m in daily telephone contact with Queensland and I believe I can do both jobs properly,” he insists.
Petty tried to boost his popularity by offering the Vetch as the venue for the town’s Santa parade this year. The grateful organiser said: “It means we will be able to fulfil the dreams of little ones who know as well as I do that Father Christmas is alive and well.” Maybe so, but he’s not chairman of Swansea City.
The immediate future of Doncaster Rovers was thrown into confusion in November, when the chairman, plastic surgery millionaire John Ryan (of Neighbours from Hell fame), left as a result of the failure of the local council to make progress on a new stadium to be shared with the town’s rugby league club.
Ryan’s parting references to “blood on the streets” and the possibility of “bloody riots” alerted the FA, and did not exactly please the supporters either, whose interests are now represented on the club’s board by a director from the Viking Supporters Co-operative (www.vikingsc.co.uk). While they share Ryan’s rage at the council’s apparent prevarication, they are also trying to facilitate further talks between the council, who own the Belle Vue site, and Dublin-based Westferry Ltd, who hold the lease. Westferry are keen to build a hotel and retail complex there once Rovers have moved.
The fear is that the council, still tainted by the endless Don-nygate corruption scandal, has ulterior motives in preventing the club from moving, which, it is agreed, is the only way to secure its long-term future. What seems clear in the short term is that Ryan’s departure as chairman will mean funding for the team will be restricted. Either way, the Viking Co-operative are planning to stand a candidate in mayoral elections next year if the council does not resolve the delays.
The endless struggle to extricate Bury from the mess left by disgraced financier, steam train enthusiast and “Walter Mitty personality” Hugh Eaves is taking its toll. After the failure of one proposed takeover by the former Chesterfield chairman Norton Lea, another put forward by an unknown consortium is still mired in legal argument. Eaves’s creditors, whose initial inclination was to force the club into liquidation, are not yet satisfied with the new deal and it seems doubtful that it will go through in a hurry or at all. “Unfortunately, unpleasant decisions may have to be made,” the chairman Terry Robinson has warned.
No such concerns for Northwich Victoria chairman Dave Stone, who is bullish about his plans to move the club out of its historic Drill Field site to a new ground with more potential for expansion. “We think there is enough money to do this,” he told the Non-League Paper in October. “I have 45 years’ experience in the construction business and I know what I’m doing.” So, we’ll expect no problems there at all.
From WSC 179 January 2002. What was happening this month