THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

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