Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall spoke to an audience of supporters ahead of the 2-1 win over Stockport County at Huish Park today.
The owner was asked three questions by stadium matchday announcer Ian Welch in front of an audience of around 100 supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge.
The headlines of his talk were:
- He accepted an offer to takeover the club from Simul Sports, but said the consortium “never put money on the table.“
- The deal to sell Huish Park and surrounding land to South Somerset District Council “remains an option.“
- A new manager, players and a board of directors will be appointed by Priestnall before he releases details of season tickets.
Following his appearance in front of supporters, the chairman was in the crowd for the match, his first since the FA Cup third round tie with AFC Bournemouth which was televised on BBC in January, and chants against him were clearly heard with a number of ‘Priestnall Out’ banners on display.
Following the game, a number of supporters gathered outside Huish Park to continue their protest against the owner.
Asked about a possible deal with South Somerset District Council to sell Huish Park and surrounding land, Priestnall told the audience:
“There’s no real closed shop, it’s very simple that because of what the council are going through, I am not allowed to give you (any further details).
“Obviously I did public consultation on that 18 months ago, it remains an option for the club. It is on public record, the council has put the money in to their budget this year, so it remains an option and that is kind of it really.”
On the rule, known as ‘purdah’, the Local Government Association says: “Essentially councils should ‘not publish any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.”
It is important to note, these restrictions are governed by Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986, as amended by 1988, but importantly they relate to councils – not football club owners.
The reason for the rule of purdah is to avoid any “publicity which seeks to influence voters” and with SSDC hosting elections on May 5, their councillors are officials are restricted from talking.
The owner said he had accepted a bid to buy the club from Simul Sports, a consortium fronted by former Cardiff City commercial director Julian Jenkins, nine months ago.
But, he insisted that consortium “never put any money on the table” to finalise the deal and that nobody else has stumped up any cash to seal the deal.
Priestnall said: “A deal was brought to me about nine months ago, facilitated through the Glovers’ Trust, it was made to me and I accepted.
“I discussed with the Supporters’ Alliance that an approach had been made and the supporters groups were looking for some sort of change and I think I have been on record enough times saying if there was a better option for the football club or something which was in the best interests of the football club, I would look at it and that is what I did.
“I did not negotiate a deal, I did not hold out, they never put any money on the table and that is the truth. So there has never been a deal in place to sign, it’s just been ongoing discussions and that goes for any takeover (offer) you have heard about. Nobody has put any money on the table to buy the football club.
“It’s been difficult to not come out and talk about it, but I never put the club up for sale. I know that is a cheap thing to say when you accept an offer for the football club which I openly did, but I never wanted to sell the football club.”
As well as Simul, it is believed there have been other bidders for the club with former director Glenn Collis, who resigned from his position on Friday night, understood to have been in talks with Priestnall.
His departure came at the same time the club said the chairman was “assembling a new board of directors” which he confirmed on Saturday that he was doing:
“We have no offer on the table, there is no deal in place, there is no white knight coming in to take this club forward and as a custodian of the club it is my duty to take it forward and put the right team together to take it forward.
“That is from the ground upwards from the manager and coaching staff through to a board. There will be a new board in place in some guise, I can’t tell you when that will be at the moment, but I certainly will over the next few weeks.”
The future on and off the pitch
The chairman was asked about why no details had been released regarding season tickets for next season, he replied they would be forthcoming when the on and off the pitch situation was finalised:
“We have to show you the commitment for you to buy season tickets. We will put a new manager in place and show commitment signing players and then we will put a deal together for season tickets.
“I intend to show you where this club is going to go in terms of existing players renewing contracts, a new manager you can get behind and a new board.”
Anyone want to guess how long that will be?!
He also spoke about his disappointment at the club preparing for a second mid-table finish in as many seasons, adding:
“I was extremely disappointed with the league position last season and I went in to it with a completely new strategy with Darren (Sarll) trying to recruit younger players.
“We have had a very experienced squad with not much legs and we’ve never really had a Plan B. So the plan this year was to create a new Plan A and that is the way we went.
“That was the way we went last season and went about our recruitment and there’s been a lot of successes in that, but not in terms of league position. Mid-table two years on the trot is not good enough for me and I’m sure it’s not good enough for you guys.
“That is why I have become disengaged. I watch every game because I have a little camera here and watch every game from home live ,but because of the ongoing rumours I thought it would be inappropriate for me to be about lauding it as my football clubs when I had agreed a deal with somebody to take it over.“
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