Club's board refused entry to Wembley hearing
11 August ~ Salisbury City have responded to being demoted from the Conference in the only way they know how – in a statement that lets the FA have it with both barrels. It begins by saying that the club is being "monumentally stitched up by the FA and Conference", and they fear this will lead to the winding up of the football club. Salisbury were demoted to the next level Conference South in July for not paying off debts. As a result, they've lost a string of players and staff.
These include manager Mikey Harris, who's left for a youth-team role at Portsmouth, leading scorer Jamie White to Bristol Rovers, and club captain Brian Dutton to Havant & Waterlooville.
Salisbury's problems began when they were sold in May to Moroccan businessman Outail Touzar. The takeover bid meant Touzar was the majority shareholder with a 98 per cent stake, with long-term Salisbury fan Mark Winter completing the consortium; both were responsible for the club's debt of £150,000. Winter immediately invested £75,000 into the club, but Touzar's only rumoured contribution was to take £4,000 from club season ticket sales. With Touzar in charge and refusing to honour any of his promises of investment, Winter demanded he sign over his shares. After refusing to do so, Touzar was banned from the club.
The club's website reported that they were refused entry to the FA independent hearing at Wembley last week. The club believe the FA did so because they feared being sued by Touzar. Salisbury MP John Glen has written to the sports minister, claiming he has received incoherent emails from Touzar, suggesting he did not understand his responsibilities.
Some of Salisbury's anger has been aimed at FA Chairman Greg Dyke, who owns property in a Hampshire village about 10 miles down the A30 from Salisbury. Part of the statement reads: "Perhaps he [Dyke] should be holding his head in his hands in shame that he presides over an organisation that thinks they are above the law. Let's us not forget that while Salisbury were the unfortunate victims of a complete fraudster, if the Conference and FA's pathetic and farcical fit and proper persons test hadn't been in operation he wouldn't have been able to take control of the club in the first place."
Salisbury were pointing to the fact that all that was required of Touzar under the FA's fit and proper requirements was a PO Box in Dubai and an email address. While he remains owner, despite his whereabouts being unknown, the FA refuse to deal with Salisbury's new board. Salisbury have bounced back before from demotion (they were relegated from the Conference for financial reasons in 2010) but it will take a monumental battle to do so again. While they have the good will of the footballing world on their side, that alone doesn't pay the bills. Mark Sanderson