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Club News

CHIEF EXEC: An update on current matters

Highlights from the CUSG meeting

25 August 2023

Club News

CHIEF EXEC: An update on current matters

Highlights from the CUSG meeting

25 August 2023

Chief executive Nigel Clibbens provided a comprehensive update on a wide range of subjects at this month's CUSG meeting, and we have selected some of the highlights for you here.

Club News

CUSG: August meeting minutes

18 August 2023

Remember, every CUSG meeting comes with a set of minutes, which includes a downloadable update from the club.

Click HERE to download the August update.


Arrangements for Raw Lounge in McConnell’s bar for 23/24 have been confirmed.

Food, with improved facilities and guests are now on offer. Advance purchase tickets to use the lounge are now on sale.

Membership for the season is £750 – includes season ticket, food (self-service) bowl food and pasty at full-time. For fans who have already purchased a season ticket the price is £290 for the season for access to the lounge, and food for every league game (works out at £10+ vat per game). Game by game the price is £40pp, includes ticket and food. 0330 094 5930 (option 3) or email

Behaviour at games

We continue to be under FA investigation for incidents at the Bradford play-off second leg, including pyros, missiles, pitch incursion and pitch invasion. The outcome is to be confirmed by the FA. We are working closely with the Police.

We were fined £7,500 by the FA for racist chanting at the Boxing Day game againsr Bradford. We have pleaded guilty and are awaiting the sanction. After incidents v Fleetwood we again appeal to fans to behave. These incidents of fan disorder must not continue into the 23/24 season. They are damaging the club.

We will continue to work with fan groups on ways to avoid instances. We will continue to issue posters and use social media to try and get the message across.

Season tickets

Season ticket income so far is up circa +£250k (58%) from both increased sales numbers and price per ticket. 

3,100 sold compared with 2,197 for 22/23. This is up overall 41%. Average yield price per ticket is up +16% (from higher prices and sales mix).


FAN ZONE: It looked fantastic with their branding on show

22 August 2023

Potential investment

I am personally very proud of the fact that our engagement with supporters is amongst the best in English football in independent surveys. I always try to ensure we are honest and truthful and provide full information to fans. Again, I have always said if we can’t give details on something, we will say so and explain why.

I have seen the media and social media speculation. I understand the desire from fans who want to know what is happening, and for the media to do its job in finding out and breaking news. From a club point of view, sometimes having the detailed information in public can be counterproductive to what is best for the club. Lots of different people can be involved with different agendas and it is sensitive and delicate. 

It is a difficult balance for us to weigh sharing information with fans in these circumstances, with doing what is in the best interests of the club. I have consistently said that doing takeover deals in football in a public glare and media spotlight is not conducive to achieving a successful outcome. I still strongly believe that. 

Sometimes, if we all want the best for the club, on key important issues like a takeover, then there has to be an acceptance that the detail of what is going on behind the scenes must stay behind the scenes until it’s right that it should come into the open.

Lessons of the past 

When I joined the club in mid-2016, it was already over a year into an investment deal with a Middle Eastern “Billionaire” which had started in 2015. After nearly two years that ended fruitlessly. That had come after another deal which had been announced to huge media headlines in 2015, but again that had also come to nought.

I said early on in my role, if ever the club received future investment enquiries they would be handled differently. They have been. It is easy for interested parties to make great promises about their funds and plans.

The club has had a number of false dawns with investment interest that started with big hype and fanfare, creating huge fan anticipation and expectation, but which then ultimately ended with nothing - except disappointment, reputational damage and acrimony.

It is not in the best interest of the club to get drawn into a repeat of what it did before with those failed deals, by again doing its business in public and the media. That’s why the club needs to take a cautious approach.   

As a point of principle, if takeover interest develops to reach a stage where information can be shared with fans, and it will make a deal more likely, it will be done so straight away.

Context to any possible takeover 

While the opportunity to invest/takeover the club is there (as it has been since 2015), doing any deal is a challenge. Fans know this already, but it’s important to keep this in mind.

The individual shareholders have similar priorities (like the best interests of the club) but their own specific requirements which are not all the same. The wishes and priorities of CUOSC are also different.

For many potential investors, they immediately see a 25.4% shareholding held by CUOSC as a deal-breaker, they want a far bigger and controlling shareholding and ownership. Some want to wipe out CUOSC straight away if they come in, or have the opportunity to take them out in full whenever they want (leaving no fan ownership element). Some fans may argue - people with that plan should be treated with caution.

So, any takeover deal needs CUOSC support (which in turn needs fan support from CUOSC members as its board has promised to ask its members) before it agrees to any deal effecting its current position.

The club has legacy debts to Purepay and PFD. The Purepay debt dates back to money advanced between 2017 and May 2019. The PFD debt from before 2016.

Repaying debt takes cash from on the field and can quickly jeopardise on-field results, which can quickly lead to league struggles combined with low gates and financial crisis. Not investing in facilities builds up a problem for the future, and a bigger backlog. Not repaying debt runs the risk of those owed money demanding money and a crisis regardless of how everything else is going. 

We now have more certainty over future player sell-ons after the Trafford sale. Potential future cash from sell-ons will not be transformational, I’ve said that before. It’s far less than media reports, and cash comes in over a long time. Those deals will help but not repay the Purepay debt alone or anytime soon.

The club’s legacy debts must be addressed as part of any takeover deal. This is usual in football and has been the case every time there has been a past change of ownership here. 

When the current ownership group took over, they inherited a legacy debt and reached an agreement over what was to happen to it, in their ownership.  Fred Story left his legacy debt interest free and unsecured. He received some cash over an extended period from cups and player sales, and eventually very generously wrote off some debt to help the club progress. It was his gift to the community and club, and he is rightly lauded for that. 

When EWM began providing funds, the £450k legacy debt of PFD was left interest free and unsecured, with no repayments either. That facilitated the funding from 2017.

I have said before, it is not possible to progress an investment deal while the club owes money and that money can be called in on-demand at any time, with no notice (for example immediately anyone takes over the club). Why?

The message is clear from potential investors. They want to improve the future of the club and want to see their cash stay in the club to give it full benefit and make the most impact. 

From a shareholder and guarantor point of view, if the Purepay debt remains unresolved, they would still guarantee a debt and if they have sold shares in club, they are still liable for the debt but have lost all influence.

Building on the positive news of a meeting reported by John Nixon in the June fans’ forum, Purepay is now engaging with the club via its lawyers, by letter. Last week we submitted a new proposal. It’s been prepared to be realistic and affordable and not jeopardise the club.

Fans need to understand, looking from the point of view of a lender, those who lend money expect to get it back.  There is no doubt that by not asking for all its money back on demand so far, or even over a short period (of say a couple of years) the club has not been faced with the serious implications that it could have had. 

Everyone should consider this unemotionally as a pure financial matter with no room for sentiment.

We hope the response from Purepay to our proposal, will be favourable and it can play a part in making investment realistically achievable, but there are no guarantees.

For all the reasons above, as far as the club is concerned, it has to be business as usual. 

Current speculation

Without getting into the detail:

  • Yes, we are getting more calls and enquiries about investment – that’s no surprise given our promotion and the increasingly visible potential of the club.
  • Yes, there is credible interest from people in taking-over the club.
  • Yes, the shareholders, board and CUOSC have met people and held discussions. These are continuing.
  • Yes, some people have visited the club and also attended games.

Finally, from a personal point of view, I believe the club is in its best position for over a decade:

  • CUOSC and shareholder relations are good.
  • Fan engagement is in a good place.
  • Gates are the best for a decade and we have a new generation of young fans now who are also coming to love the club.
  • Off-the-field business trading is the best in a decade.
  • Most importantly we have the success of a promotion on-the-field.
  • The PFD debt and other issues have all been dealt with.
  • The other debt remains to be dealt with and we are trying hard on this.

As I look to the future, the opportunity is there for the club to grow and be better. That makes things potentially exciting looking ahead. Who would not want to be part of helping to make that happen? It would be brilliant, wouldn’t it? 

For all of us associated with the club either directly or indirectly we all have a huge responsibility to do all we can to take the opportunity the club now has. That is what I am focussed on.

In the meantime, I ask fans to be patient and understanding and I will update when I can.

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