CUFC Holdings Board Statement - 10 December 2021.
As we move towards a crucial run of fixtures, before entering 2022 and the January transfer window, and with new football management plans on the field, it is an important time to bring clarity to off-the-field, ‘behind-the-scenes’ matters.
The CUFC Holdings Board members fully understand the feelings and emotions of our fans. All the shareholders are life-long fans, and have been since childhood. We love this club and have only ever wanted the best for it.
We cannot have the team affected at such a vital time. We need to be able to focus fully on recovering on the field, and we cannot risk the ongoing uncertainty over our investment and ownership hampering that.
The initial loan from EWM was provided at a time when the club was going through particular financial hardship and the intention was to ensure that the club had a sound financial footing for the future. It was to lead to a deeper involvement from the word go.
The relationship progressed and by mid-2019 a majority of the existing shareholders proposed to transfer their shares (at no cost), which also included a restructure of the share capital of the club, and a dilution of CUOSC voting rights.
As the deal would have led to an immediate change of control, it required normal EFL approval before it could progress. That process with the EFL began in the summer of 2019.
In December 2019, following detailed discussions with the EFL regarding the change of control provisions, attempts were made to mutually agree on a way forward, with a revised deal, that would eventually have led to a change of control at some time in the future, with EFL approval required at that point in time.
CUOSC made it clear that this revised deal would not be acceptable. As no agreement was completed, the legal responsibility and control of the club remained with the existing shareholders, as it still does today.
The Covid-19 pandemic then intervened in March 2020 with the UK entering into a lockdown position. Football stopped, before continuing, but only behind closed doors. As a result of the pandemic our financial backer, EWM, unfortunately went into administration (November 2020). For a period in excess of twelve months everything was on hold, as the pandemic crisis was managed across the UK, until a degree of normality returned.
As the UK started to emerge from the Covid pandemic, around Spring 2021, attempts to progress a deal by all parties were once again discussed. In mid-2021 CUOSC officially withdrew their support for the transaction outlined above, citing that the original agreement had not been completed, that it was now in their view out of time, that the proposed revised deal was not acceptable and, given events at other football clubs in the EFL since late 2019, alternative investment was required.
With the emerging requirements on owners after Bury, and then from the Fan Led Review, covering communication, fan engagement and management, this reinforced its view.
Since that time extensive and continuing discussions have taken place. The Holdings Board finally and reluctantly decided the lack of support from CUOSC for a deal meant the other shareholders could not transfer total control of the club to a new investor on the transaction, as proposed.
The board sought legal advice and it became clear that the best option for all parties was to seek credible new potential investors with immediate effect, to avoid any further detriment to the club.
We know some fans may be angry and upset that this takeover has not been achieved after we have tried for so long to make it happen.
We too felt a deal was achieved in June 2019, subject to EFL approval, so we are all deeply disappointed to have reached this point.
The Holdings Board are sincerely appreciative of EWM, Purepay Retail and those connected to them over the last few years for their continued financial and corporate support, to which the shareholders and the club are and will always be profoundly grateful. The board has also entered into discussions with Purepay Retail over the repayment of the loan facility.
The board, and all parties involved, gave this deal all the time we possibly could, and more. It had a local fit with a large established company which had strong connections with the club. We have persevered and waited patiently in the face of growing fan anger, but it has still not been possible to complete the takeover. We must now move on and look to the future.
We have met Keith Millen a number of times since his appointment as manager, to ensure he has all the support he needs.
On Monday we discussed the events of Saturday and he discussed his thoughts and concerns. We reiterated our commitment to Keith to make available whatever finance is needed to help him move the team up the league and out of the relegation zone.
Financially, the club is secure, and funds are in place ready for what is required to move us forward.
We hope, after this news is digested, the fans will continue to support Keith and the team in the remaining matches.
We will give regular updates as and when there is something substantive to report.