NORTHWICH Victoria Supporters Trust, an independent group that represents part of Vics’ fan base, has today said it will consider setting up a new club.
In a statement issued exclusively to the Guardian, the trust’s board makes clear its position, suggesting fans should take responsibility for the club’s future.
It has asked fans to make their views known at an open meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, at Lostock Social Club from 7.45pm.
The statement reads:
“THE board of Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust urges supporters to do all they can attend an open meeting tomorrow, Thursday March 29, at Lostock Social Club, starting at 7.45pm.
“The board’s members believe that the outcome of this gathering will have a major say in the continued existence and future direction of the club, which is is due to celebrate its 140th anniversary next year. “In January the club ‘lost’ its ground – the Victoria Stadium – when it was bought by neighbouring chemical company Thor Specialities (UK) Ltd.
“Since then, home games have been played at various locations, including Nantwich and Macclesfield.
“Next year, fans face the prospect of a 70-miles round journey as the club have agreed in principle to stage home games at Skelmersdale.
“This blow follows the reign of the club’s previous owner, Mike Connett, which ended with the company he set up to manage the stadium liquidated owing thousands of pounds in debt.
“In the three years since, current owner Jim Rushe, has tried to purchase the ground from receivers of Connett’s company, Deloitte LLP.
“However, for reasons he has yet to explain fully, he failed to raise the funds to do so.
“Mr Rushe has also shunned offers of assistance and support from the trust, the only viable and recognised supporters-based organisation.
“Furthermore, although he has gone on record to say he has funds to enable the club to complete the current campaign, he stated too that he cannot guarantee that he will be in a position to do the same for the whole of next season.
“The trust board has therefore come to the view that the interests of the fans would be best served by supporters taking on full responsibility for the club.
“Therefore, it proposes to create a new, community-owned club that is run in a sustainable, transparent and democratic manner, owned not by one individual.
“To support this objective, the trust board intends to publish a detailed business plan.
“This will set out how it will be possible to establish a club that will provide a positive image of the town, have a stable financial base, strong community involvement, substantial local business support and a more engaged fan base.
“The trust acknowledges that such a move may have a detrimental effect on the its relationship with Mr Rushe and those currently operating the club, and that the proposal may well divide the fan base.
“It is for this reason that it has arranged the meeting this week, so that it can seek the views of all Vics fans.
“Prior to the open forum, a trust members’ meeting will be held at 7pm.
“The purpose is to update the trust’s constitution using the latest Supporters Direct model for a Supporters Community Mutual Society (a CBS), which will enable a possible Community Share offer as recently issued at FC United of Manchester and Wrexham.
“Such an initiative will enable the trust to seek substantial fundraising from the fans and other community-focused people and groups.
“Ultimately this will help us to meet the trust’s objective of creating a democratically-owned and run club grounded at the heart of its community and that serves the interests of its supporters.”