Hereford fan Norman considers PM bid

The MP for Hereford, and self-proclaimed Bulls fan, Jesse Norman could throw his hat into the ring as a prospective candidate as the next Conservative Party leader – and Prime Minister.

Norman, newly promoted to a treasury ministerial role, has confirmed that he is considering standing as the next Tory leader.

In a series of tweets, he wrote: “It’s already a crowded field, and my reply has been that the views of my constituents, party members and colleagues should shape that decision, and I will carefully consult among them”.

Jesse Norman was previously a Transport Minister and promoted in the recent re-shuffle following the resignation of Andrea Leadsom as Commons Leader last Thursday.

Norman, 56, won the seat of Hereford and South Herefordshire at the 2010 General Election with a 5.1% majority over the Liberal Democrats.

Often seen at Edgar Street over the past decade, Norman, was elected as Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in June 2015, as was especially outspoken about the inadequacy of the Football Association’s “Owners and Directors Test”.

During the financial meltdown of Hereford United he used the Bulls’ as an example of what can go wrong if inadequate checks are in place.

When Tommy Agombar somehow circumvented FA rules in 2014, Norman said, “The Owners & Directors Test is supposed to be adminstrated before someone buys the shares, but that didn’t happen.

“It’s supposed to give answers within fourteen days and we’ve been waiting for Mr Lonsdale’s results one way or the other since the beginning of September.

“It’s not being enforced because it looks like Mr Agombar is spending a lot of time at the club in a way that doesn’t look like a man who has actually sold his shares.

“I’ve got serious concerns and I will be meeting again with the FA this week in order to press the case.

“The idea that someone can fail the ‘test’ as Mr Agombar and one of two others of his colleagues did in August and not know about it while there are pending court proceedings is appalling and disastrous for Hereford United.”

Speaking after Hereford United FC (1939) Limited were wound up he said, “My first reaction was a sense of surging relief.  Finally!  After nearly five months, we were rid of Messrs Agombar and Lonsdale.  All their tricks—the merry-go-round of company directors, the nominal changes of ownership, the endless empty promises of payments for creditors and new investment in the club—all had ultimately come to nothing.

“Having adjourned and re-adjourned insolvency proceedings, having given the owners every opportunity to fulfil their obligations, the Court had run out of patience with their delaying tactics and prevarication.  At last, we could all start to build for the future.

“But it was also a very sad moment.  A great club, a giant-killing football name, had been brought low.   Ninety proud years of history had ended in enforced relegation from the Conference Premier, a suspension from the Football Association and an insolvent liquidation. 

“And the whole episode had much wider implications.  As my debate in the House of Commons underlined, it revealed huge flaws in how football is governed, by the Football Association and, here, the Southern League.

“But above all, many people in and around Hereford United are still owed money, and have now been left high and dry.  Little wonder the news was bittersweet.

Norman, a Hereford United Supporters’ Trust member, continued, “This is just the end of the beginning.  The fans have played a blinder ever since Agombar took control:  through social media, the Supporters Trust, the boycott, and their personal contributions of time and energy and money to the cause.  They are the key.

“The way is now clear to build a great new club, a new Hereford United, a community club led by supporters with local financial backing, a club that can take on those proud traditions and make them live again, with Edgar Street roaring the team on next August.

“What really matters is not the legal vehicle, but the identity of Hereford United, and the love, passion and commitment of fans for football in this city.  Yes, Hereford United (1939) Ltd is no more.   But long live Hereford Football Club.”

More recently Norman was presented with The FA’s Grassroots Champion award by Steve Willmot, Chairman of Herefordshire FA and Martin Watson, Club Secretary of Hereford FC last season.

The national award recognises MPs who support the grassroots game in their local community and is part of the new #FootballFootprint Campaign being run by the FA, in conjunction with local County Associations. The campaign celebrates grassroots football across England and raises awareness of the investments and initiatives that make the game possible at a local level.

The MP also lent his support to two planning applications to develop both the pitch near the Ted Powell building on Widemarsh Common, and at Pegasus Juniors FC regarding a 3G all-weather pitch on their Old School Lane ground.

Images: BBC, HUST & Hereford FC.

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