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latest news, march 2012
 

Terras to be put in Trust despite shock £40k debt
By Adam Summers

Saturday 10th March 2012

NIGEL Biddlecombe is confident Weymouth FC can become a community club the town can be proud of despite having uncovered £40,000 worth of debts since taking the reins just nine days ago.

Addressing around 180 supporters at a fans’ forum at the Bob Lucas Stadium last night, the new, Terras’ owner outlined his hopes for the future and also showed his appreciation for the overwhelming support he received during his emotionally-charged takeover from George Rolls.

In an exclusive interview with Echosport, Biddlecombe, a lifelong fan and the club’s historian, said: “When George Rolls put the price up from £16,000 to £20,000 the night before I eventually took over, I made a plea for help on the independent fans’ forum and within hours £15,000 was raised.

“We have a fighting fund of £30,000 in total but already we have had to dig into that to pay rates and wages.

“I have put in money and so have a lot of others. Some have also pledged more and the trust they showed in me by giving those donations made that night in question the most humbling of my life.

“In fact at 2am that morning I was sat at home with a cup of tea with tears in my eyes.

“The support has been overwhelming and in my mind that faith just goes to show the determination of people to see WFC move forward in the right way.”

He went on to add: “This is a brand new era and my wish is to move things back to how they used to be when I was a kid, with the club being run by local people for local people, hence our new motto ‘Your Town, Your Team, The Terras’.

“The majority shareholding will be signed over to the Weymouth FC Community Trust on April 9 and from then on the club will be owned by the town.

“When that takes place it will make my reign as owner the shortest in the club’s history but it will also make me the proudest.

“The people setting up the Trust need to make sure it is legally sound so there are no loopholes what- soever, which means it may not be fully set up in time for April 9.

It needs to be watertight.

“However, if I cannot sign the full documentation that day, I will be signing a document of intent instead. Whichever way, it will go into Trust, you have my word, and that will be a day the whole club can be proud of.”

Biddlecombe’s optimism was clearly contagious at the meeting but the stark reality is that a lot of work still needs to be done to get the club on an even keel.

Speaking ahead of today’s home clash with Hemel Hempstead (3pm), he said: “George Rolls did not leave WFC debt free.

“Since I took over, between myself and the people working with me, we have discovered long standing debts of a Football nature along with debts to Her Majesty’s Revenues & Cus-toms and West Dorset District Council for rates.

“They have been estimated at £40,000 although we are still awaiting final figures from HMRC.

“Ralph Ricardo, with the help of his business partner Calvin-Hastings Gordon, have been helping structure those debts so we can manage them.

“There is still a little bit to be done but that figure is not out of our capabilities but of course we need people to come through the gates to help us pay it.

“There are also players’ wages and bonuses still outstanding but we can guarantee them that they will be paid up by the end of the month.”

Rolls may be gone but his legacy at the club and current venture at Kettering Town continues to be shrouded in controversy.

The five-year contracts he offered Weymouth manager Brendon King and his assistant Matt Groves just days before selling the club, and his recent attempts to tempt Ben Joyce, Stephen Reed and Craig Duff to follow him to the Poppies are just two matters still up for debate.

Biddlecombe went on to say: “I have spoken to both Brendon and Matt, and George Rolls has given me copies of the contracts, which are signed.

“However, for the time being, we have agreed to allow the dust to settle and then see what we can do to move on those contracts.

“Meanwhile, George Rolls has personally tapped up those three players you have mentioned.

“Ben Joyce has joined Kettering but the other two have expressed a willingness to stay at WFC.

“As a consequence, I have written to the FA, the Conference, the Southern League and Kettering Town to make an official complaint about illegal approaches for our players.”

Two other big issues Biddlecombe was keen to address was the potential move to full-time football and the current state of talks with Morgan Sindall over the possibility of building the club a new stadium.

He said: “Full-time is something that is still very much in our thoughts but not in terms of what people initially think when they hear that term.

“What I would like to see is Weymouth FC pick up around eight young lads from the Football League exit trials in the summer and pay them a bit of money where they can train every day and also get out into the community in the afternoon, as well as help clean and paint the stadium and things like that.

“I believe that is a good way forward but it is something I need to discuss with board.

“The example I will be using when I do that is Scott Doe.

“He did not get that much money when he came here after being let go by Swindon Town but he was a good player for us and has since gone on to better things.

“As for the subject of a new stadium, WFC board representatives are in talks with Morgan Sindall and we are confident a deal can be struck in the future.

“Nice as the current stadium is, it is expensive to run and in order for the club to really move forward we need a new one to suit our level, and expected level.

“I am not saying Football League or the Conference but what I will say is that the Bob Lucas Stadium is too big for our needs.”

Other important points:

* Around 90,000 shares in the club appear to be missing and steps are being taken to remedy the situation. Biddlecombe said: “I signed a deal for 706,500 shares but we now believe there should be in the region of 800,000 so somewhere around 90,000 shares have disappeared.”

* The club is considering all options in regards to Wessex Delivery Partnership LLP’s ownership of the land surrounding the stadium and are willing to work constructively with the company on mutually beneficial terms

* WFC’s original bank accounts have been frozen by Lloyds whilst interim board sorts out mandates. A new account has been opened with HSBC.

* An AGM will be held as soon as the state of the club’s finances has been fully determined.

* Discussions are planned with the police and safety representatives to see what restrictions will be on the club during the Olympics. Friendlies may have to be played elsewhere.

* Talks will also take place with various parties to see if facilities in and around the club can be used during the Games.

* Biddlecombe hailed the efforts of the Weymouth FC Supporters Association, Wessex Fantasy Football and the Businessmen’s Club and is looking forward to working even closer with those groups in the future.

* The office at the Bob Lucas Stadium will now be manned Monday to Friday and can be reached on 785558.

* The £99 season-ticket offer has been abandoned but the club will honour the 80 that have been pledged. New admission prices will be set in due course.

* Weymouth Reserves will continue next season in the Magna Dorset Premier League.

* The new regime is hoping to form strong links with Weymouth Ladies FC, WeySports, Weymouth Youth FC and all youth teams in the area.

* The club is still looking for a new match-day stadium announcer following Pete Pavey’s decision to retire from the role. To find our more visit Pavey in the PA box in the main stand this afternoon. Alternatively contact the club on 785558.

 

     
 
 
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