One of the downsides of visiting Edgar Street, particularly just after a home defeat, is picking your way around distraught men in snappy suits. Often rows of them, bewildered, around the club entrance. Some are slumped, head in hands. A few moodily kick the wall in their expensive footwear. More have simply broken down. Never pleasant to see grown men in tears. A few will pester anyone passing by who will listen.
“Why? Why did they turn me down? They just say rules is rules. I just wanted to give them my life savings.”
“I had my first payment ready” wailed another.
“I only had to touch one button and the money was theirs. They wouldn’t take it. They keep on saying “that’s our system and we are sticking to it.”
A few had fresh blood over their shirts, clearly bruised victims of the daily 9 o’clock stampede. I’ve never seen it myself, but apparently as soon as the doors open, hordes of investors rush to get inside to state their case. Some allegedly wave fistfuls of pound notes or their wallets to prove their sincerity.
Word has it that directors take turns to repel boarders, beating back the invaders with a big stick, ignoring the visitors’ desperation to boost club funds. Some people claim directors shout “no time for you riff-raff here” or similar.
The above is clearly a ridiculous scenario.
But so is the deep-rooted myth that the current set-up, or more particularly HUST prevents “investors” handing over money. Anyone can give Hereford FC dosh at any time, and some do through routes such as the Squad Builder or via the club donation button. Witness how the Squad Builder suddenly rose in £5,000 increments after stalling for so long. There is only a complication when donors want something in return or bluntly don’t want their funds frittered.
Successful businessmen are well versed in turning a “no thanks” into a “yes please.” They will not meekly give up at the first hurdle. Let’s say Mr X wants to spend big to take control of Hereford FC. Firstly, he would set up a meet with key Board members to argue his case. The largest shareholder HUST would be made aware. If the case was creditable, all HUST members and other shareholders would be balloted on the “offer”, based on the best available information.
The fall back position for Mr X would be to complain to Bulls News, Your Herefordshire, Hereford Times, etc that his offer was declined/ not taken seriously enough. If determined enough, he would also promote himself via the Facebook groups.
Has that ever happened? Nope. Our reality is that Hereford FC is a poor choice for surplus wealth unless you have a genuine interest in football and the community as a whole.
Hereford does not own Edgar Street. It’s not a coincidence that all the National league north clubs with money behind them – Fylde, Boston, Brackley. Kidderminster, Gloucester, Spennymoor, Kings Lynn etc – all own their stadium. It’s a key asset and a sellable one.
Hereford have made significant losses for several straight seasons with little tangible to show for it. There’s an obvious fear that any additional money would disappear down the same black hole.
No one can “invest” in Hereford (or most other football clubs in truth.) More realistically they can only “donate”. There is zero chance of the “stake” being returned, never mind make a profit. You gift for blind club loyalty, no other reason.
At our current level, the absence of a Mr Big is not the end of the world. Four of the top 8 in our division do not have a benefactor but all are profitable. They make best use of their resources.
Maybe we should do the same.
As Jon Hale quoted on BBC Hereford and Worcester:
“One of the things we have committed to is that our plans and budgets will be sustainable. There is simply no other way of doing it and if that means we don’t sign a player and someone else does well so be it. If it doesn’t fit the budget it doesn’t happen. That is how I run my business. That is how other people in our group run their businesses. That’s how we will run the football club.”
This article was first published in the latest edition of Talking Bull. Issue 137 which is still available to buy from the Talking Bull online store.