Earlier this week, the world marked Groundhog Day. The day when the groundhog of North American comes out of its hibernation burrow and looks to see if its shadow is captured in winter sun or absent due to Spring cloudiness. If it spots it, it retreats for a further six weeks until it is sure winter has gone.
Now, there were no groundhogs at Huish Park on Saturday, but there was a former England rugby union player Paul Sackey in the stands for the 2-2 draw against Maidstone United. One assumes he is not there to check on what the yellow marks in the penalty area in front of the Thatcher’s Stand are, and if the rumour mill is correct he’s involved in the unnamed “potential investors” in an “exclusivity agreement” to become a majority shareholder in Yeovil Town.
It’s now more than a month since the last bit of news we were got about the ownership of the club – the New Year’s Eve announcement about the aforementioned agreement – and it appears that those “potential investors” have enough interest (confidence?) to attend a match.
We’ve been here before, haven’t we? In late 2018, Rob Couhig was photographed wearing a green-and-white scarf giving a big thumbs up and it looked like his deal to buy the club from then-owners Norman Hayward and John Fry was done. That deal collapsed and current owner and chairman Scott Priestnall took it on alongside business partner Errol Pope who later resigned from the board.
Fast forward to December 6th 2021, it was Julian Jenkins, the former Cardiff City commercial director and the frontman for the Simul Sports consortium, who tweeted that the group was looking to buy Yeovil Football & Athletic Club, the company which runs the Glovers’ football operations.
A Statement on behalf of Simul Sports. No further comment at this time. – Simul Sports can confirm that we are committed to continue working with Scott Priestnall for the successful acquisition of Yeovil Football & Athletic Club. #YTFC
— Julian Jenkins (@Julianj1973) December 6, 2021
Both of those discussions reached the due diligence stages, at least from what we can see from the outside looking in, and now we appear to have more “potential investors” involved in an “exclusivity agreement” – so why does it matter?
Mark Cooper’s plans are being stifled
Speaking after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Maidstone, manager Mark Cooper was visibly miffed (we can’t use the F-word) and spoke about players who he was asking some to “do things they can’t do.”
He concluded: “Once we get in what we want to get in, eventually, then that will turn around.”
It’s not the first time he has spoken about how he has ambitions to strengthen the team and one assumes it is the current owner which has enabled him to sign Jordan Maguire-Drew, Charlie Cooper and bring in loans like Jack Clarke and Edwin Agbaje, but he clearly wants to do more.
There’s rent to pay from May
From May, there’s going to be a hefty bill landing on the Huish Park doormat for the first rental payment to landlords South Somerset District Council (SSDC) and based on attendances which hover between slightly above and slightly below 2,000, there seems to be a huge rental income coming in.
The amount the club received from selling the land upon which the stadium stands and everything around it is presumably running low. So where is the money coming from to pay those bills?
Some numbers for @ytfc
In approximately 8️⃣7️⃣days #ytfc will start paying rent to use their home ground;
They will pay roughly £5️⃣3️⃣7️⃣to do so per day;
Our beloved chairman has hidden from even scheduling a forum where he can asked about this for 1️⃣1️⃣2️⃣days
— John Oakes (@JohnAOakes) February 3, 2023
Blimey, it feels a long time since September 2021, when we highlighted the risk of all this happening – see here.
As ever, we are not privy to any secret conversations, so we have to go on what we are being told. There’s been no real changes to suggest an influx in match day revenue. We reported in December that plans to create “a fan zone” behind the Thatcher’s Stand had been approved by SSDC, but there’s been nothing further said about that.
We just deserve to know!
Let’s not get sucked in to the whole ‘supporters or customers’ debate because we all know that we are both – but the reality is this football club would not exist without its fan base.
Go back to the 1990s when fans pulled together to save it from the taxman’s bill at its lowest ebb, then 2019 when a Crowdfunder raised more than £50,000 to boost coffers – and a donation to the Yeovil Hospital Charity, of course – and not least the thousands of people who part with their cash week in and week out.
Plus, let us never forget the football club is an employer to many people, do they not deserve a straight answer about the future of their employer?
We have no doubt that the “potential investors” have their reasons for not going public, but the rumour mill is turning, the jungle drums are beating and there seems to be a far more professional ways of introducing yourself than the drip, drip, drip of information. You never get a second chance to make a first impression afterall.
If the ‘groundhog’ spots its own shadow and retreats back in to its burrow, it could be a long winter at Huish Park.
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