Notts County Supporters Trust Meeting

Surprisingly, fewer people attended the meeting of Trust members than I had first anticipated. But even so there was around 150 people in the Oriental Suite for 2 hours last night to hear updates and ask questions on the present situation at the club and to hear from Paul Finnity what he expects to happen next at Meadow Lane.

Facing the barrage of supporters’ questions on the top table was administrator Paul Finnity, Simon Binns from Supporters Direct and Keri Usherwood, Mark Durkin and John Thornhill who are interim board members of the Trust.

John Thornhill started by outlining the current state of the club, which, as we all know only too well, is on a knife-edge at the moment.

Then it was straight into the question and answer session. I will attempt to explain as much of what was said as I can.

The first question was one that has been flying round the rumour mills for some time – was Paul Finnity dragging the administration out for as long as possible so he would get more money out of it. The answer, as expected was no. Finnity said that he had not enjoyed the 11 months of working at Notts County and was hoping to be out of Meadow Lane by the initial date, which was last August. He has been working with limited support from key people within the club, which obviously made the job harder and so had to take "major risks" on behalf of the Club. He also mentioned that the price Notts would ultimately pay for administration was around £485,000, which Finnity pointed out, was considerably less than other clubs in the same situation. 35 days work at Leicester cost them just under £1 million.

As expected, there was a lot mentioned about the league’s extended deadline of 30th May. Paul Finnity said that because not all the creditors will vote on the day or by proxy, Albert Scardino would have enough of a vote to block the proposed bid from Strang and Bhatia. But whichever way the voting goes Scardino will not get a penny out of the club.

Albert Scardino
If the bid were blocked by Scardino, which is a "possibility", Notts would cease to exist as a football club. However, in a normal business administration, Finnity would not have to consult the creditors about a bid and would just sell it on if he saw that as the right thing to do. The rules are different for football clubs, as they must hold a vote for the creditors, which Finnity disagrees with. So he said if 75% were not reached then he would go to the league to try and be allowed to sell the club regardless of the creditors’ votes.

As far as the Strang/Bhatia bid is concerned Finnity still sees it as the one he will present to creditors a week on Friday. This bid was described as "a breath of fresh air" for Notts because the pair knew exactly what

Frank Strang
was needed from the bid and so delivered. Whereas, bids made by some of the other consortiums had to be redrafted a few times to get anywhere near the standard of the Strang/Bhatia one.

John Thornhill read a statement out from Sam McEwen, spokesman for the pair, stating that once in charge of the club they want to establish a professional two-way communication between the club and the fans but there was no other information revealed on their background. There was also no clear indication as to how much Billy Dearden would have to spend on players but the Council have specified there must be finance in place from any bid to take the club forward.

Finnity denied that there was no mention anywhere in Strang and Bhatia’s 10-year business plan about moving away from Meadow Lane. He said that the information that appeared in a newspaper report was complete fabrication and suspected another bidder made it up.

Future decided in 8 days
The administrator revealed that he had anticipated that the new owners would pay May’s wages and they are aware of that fact. If that is not possible he would be looking to the Supporters Trust to come up with some money.

As regards the Trust’s position in all of this, John Thornhill said that it had to remain neutral but would reflect the supporters’ views and will have regular conversations with the involved parties.

Another interesting question that came up was about how Scardino would salvage trust and credit from supporters if he was in charge again. John Thornhill said he had asked Albert that and his straight answer was, "I can only try and do it right this time". Make of that what you will.

A very interesting and informative evening drew to a close about 9.30 with the statement, "See you all next season, we will have a club, and we will fight for it", fitting end I thought.

It remains to be seen what will happen in 8 days time when the club’s future is decided.