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TERRAS: Biddlecombe lifts lid on investor talks
6:00am Saturday 12th October 2013 in Sport
NIGEL Biddlecombe has started to lift the lid on the ongoing negotiations between the Terras’ board and potential investors NGS plc.
Commenting ahead of tomorrow’s EGM at the Bob Lucas Stadium (11am), the Weymouth chairman has revealed his thoughts on the proposal and how the talks came about.
The board released the name of the potential investor yesterday afternoon but some details have still got to be kept back at the moment due to commercial confidentiality.
Biddlecombe told Echosport: “Talks (with NGS plc) have been going on for several weeks.
“They are not locally-based and they initially became interested through a chance meeting.
“Follow-up meetings then took place, along with a visit, and as a result, they can now see the potential in WFC.
“Are they football people? Perhaps the directors aren’t but in terms of family and relations there are football ties there and they see it as a challenge.
“They do not want to take over the day-to-day running of the club.
“They want the club to run itself and they want more corporate governance around it, with better financial records and more professionalism.
“A seat on the board will be a requisite for the investment but the current board would be left to run the club.
“Part of the investment would also see money for new players to help the team move forward.”
Biddlecombe has also confirmed that the ongoing land dispute at the Bob Lucas Stadium has no bearing on the outcome of the negotiations.
He added: “Part of the discussions has been what might happen if the land was ours again. However, it is not a condition of the negotiations.
“Any action WFC takes in relation to the squabble over the land is also not in any way, shape or form, dependent on this investment.
“The land issue is obviously very important when it comes to the future of WFC and any investment would not restrict that discussion.”
The Weymouth chief and lifelong supporter of the Terras has also put fears to bed surrounding the club’s current financial position.
He continued: “It has been intimated this week that the club is going bust, which is just not true.
“No one is saying that we are not flying close to the wind because most non-League clubs at our level are, but the club can continue to function with, or without, the investment.
“The one debt we do have right now is to HMRC, which is structured. This investment would clear that debt for us and allow us to have that extra money in our club each week.”
In order for NGS plc to invest, the board need the club’s shareholders to vote in favour of lifting the 7.5 per cent share purchase limit, which was put in place back in April 2012, when the club’s majority shareholding was signed over to a community trust.
Biddlecombe championed that course of action at the time in a bid to move the Terras towards becoming a community club, so why the change of heart?
He said: “The community ethos has not worked and other clubs are finding the same.
“We just do not have the volume of support in what is a hard financial climate for everyone.
“We have some fantastic supporters and volunteers, and in terms of match-day attendances we are holding very good at this level, but in regards to commercial sponsorship we are getting in very little.
“Money that used to come in previously has also stopped. Whether it is through the Wessex Fantasy Football, the presidents club or sponsorship, we are not receiving the financial backing we had before.
“The community of WFC at large have not backed it how I hoped it would do, and as a result we have not got the finances to take the club forward.
“I also believe this investment would give us the opportunity to do more for the community, not less.”
It is still not clear whether the vote on lifting the share purchase limit will take place at tomorrow’s EGM or be postponed to a later date (see panel).
Biddlecombe has admitted that the timing of the meeting could have been better but is hopeful it will lead to an open-minded discussion on the best way forward for the club.
He said: “It all comes down to whether the supporters want the club to muddle on or whether they want to make it a force again.
“If they decide the latter, then investment really is the only
“I have been a part of WFC since 1958 and there is no way I would wish to do it any harm.
“I just want to do it good and if I thought any investment had the potential to harm the club I would walk away.
“I believe this is a fantastic opportunity to move the club forward but I am certainly not going to do it without the shareholders’ backing.”
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