Terrible Americanism I know (no not necessarily Bruce Buck – Trick or Treat I mean!)
‘The Trick’ for Mr Buck this Halloween, seems to pivot on convincing 12,000 people with something valuable to hand it over and just trust the club implicitly when they promise to act in everyone’s best interests with it.
So what’s the problem you might ask, after a hard day at school?
Well stop me if I’ve told you this before son (March 10 – Nobbling CPO’s centre backs) – but what CPO actually owns in effect, is the ‘control’ over 13 acres of prime London real estate, reportedly worth £700 m in the wrong hands on the open market, along with the name Chelsea FC !
And exactly what are the club offering for it? Well, to write off £8.5 m of debt, your original £100 per share back, a set of loose promises regarding any new stadium, and a couple of other curious rotten carrots thrown in for luck! It truly looks to me as if somebody dreamt this offer up on the back of an envelope! I’ve even heard accusation this proposal is actually so poor it must be an elaborate bluff to try to soften up the local authorities concerning planning consents and hopefully ‘cop some sweeteners’ from the Mayor into the bargain, much the same stunt our ‘friends’ in north London are pulling! But that’s ridiculous – isn’t it?!
But delve deeper still and what’s proposed gets even less attractive, for instance – there is no £8.5 m of debt in the normal sense, it is an INTEREST FREE loan which doesn’t expire for another 181 years, probably equating to the cost of a family car by then – or the equivalent means of transport in 2196 !
Apart from that, one of my shares dates back 17 years, when £100 was really worth £100, so you’re not even actually getting all your money back either! Probably a similar percentage loss in value to the compulsory purchase of my Chelsea Village shares to Roman when he took over the club in 2003! Not keen on partnerships our Roman!
And as for the promises regarding any new stadium? Even assuming your not of the old school of thought that Chelsea and Stamford Bridge must be inseparable like me, it doesn’t add up – who’s going to sit in the new 55,000 to 65,000 seats they crave – there were only 34,000 in the current stadium again against Leverkusen last month because Ron Gourlay didn’t learn the embarrassing lesson of the Rosenborg fiasco, and put the prices back up to £40 a ticket for a glorious European night! And how much extra revenue would be raised by a shiny new stadium? £35 m a year we’re told. – Only if it’s a 65,000 seater and you can fill it for all games, and at higher prices! And what does that leave you with – another Emirates type scenario where the atmosphere is acknowledged by all as poor, with many of the old-school supporters having refused to move eagerly ditched by their club in favour of the new money – most of who don’t bother to even turn up for many games leaving embarrassing great swathes of corporate seating empty. Prices certainly didn’t get reduced either, as those that did go along with it all might have expected – after all, someone’s got to pay for it! More realistically it will be £15 to £20 m extra per year in a 55,000 seater – approximately the same as just spent buying wonder kids Courtois and Piazon (who?) before being loaned straight out to other clubs. And I for one just don’t buy another 13,000 seats can’t be fabricated at Stamford Bridge given the will and resources!
And as for the chocolate promise of ‘relocating within 3 miles of Stamford Bridge’, that could be anywhere from Chiswick to Kennington, Ladbroke Grove to Balham and all places in between, no one over 21 with an A to Z will swallow anything that unlikely, surely! And more importantly, in just over 8 years time even that promise melts away and they could move the club anywhere – literally – Cobham, Cricklewood, or Chukotka (Abramovich’s constituency in Russia), who knows – certainly not the supporters! Besides, how can you fully trust any organisation who with the agreement of Richard King the CPO chairman, has thrust all this on shareholders with just the legal minimum 3 week notice period – is that the behaviour of a benign upright benefactor? Even the bumf in the proposal sent out contains a cynical selectively edited quote from Ken Bates original CPO invitation letter! Our postal votes and proxies, by the way, are to be sent to Richard Sewell, CPO Company Secretary, CPO Accountant, and CPO Director, for collating! Perfectly legal I’m sure, but you might choose to send it certificated post, or better still turn up on the day personally to vote – but then I also notice in the blurb you may need photo I.D. as well as your invite to be allowed in this year – err, why ?!
Oh, and the rotten carrots thrown in to the deal? – A half baked promise of preferential treatment for new season tickets (which went on general sale this year anyway), and a walk of shame! – Can I have a think about it, thanks?!
And yet another thing, over the last 18 years 12,000 supporters like me have been persuaded to hand over their hard earned cash to literally buy into the idea of keeping Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge FOR EVER! To ‘protect’ the club, not just from developers – as is currently being spun, but just as importantly, also from over-ambitious owners. After all it was the careless Mears brothers in 1984 that had to sell the ground on to developers in the first place, due to the tripling of the budget for the new East stand! What if a similar scenario happens to the current owner or his offspring? For instance he could apparently soon loose a third of his reported £9 billion fortune if his current court case with ‘old friend’ Boris Berisovsky is lost – who claims Roman cheated him out of £3 billion in a business deal in Russia! Other disgruntled business associates, stock market crashes, or more broken marriages, and history could sadly repeat itself – what’s to stop it?
CPO is to stop it! That’s its purpose! That’s what it guards against – That’s what it was cleverly set up for! – No matter who owns the club – for your grandchildren’s lifetimes and beyond! Fans of Man U and Liverpool would die for a scheme in place like CPO; – they have to hold their breath every time a new owner arrives, hoping they want to do the right thing, and organising mass protests when they invariably don’t! Now you don’t want that now do you! And yes, if the Right scheme was presented by the club with another 3 week time frame, even old traditionalists like me would approve it. But I want to help make that decision, not who ever the owner might be!
So sit tight fellow shareholders – don’t be duped by this insulting ‘offer’ (in content and delivery) – either way there’s little to gain and everything to loose. If Roman looses patience or interest with us, as seems to be the veiled threat – so be it, who owns CFC doesn’t really matter to a large extent as long as CPO exist, because as things stand no one can ever pull the ground out from under us – literally! And anyway new billionaires would be queuing up to buy London’s top Premier League club for the kudos alone! Bear in mind Mr Buck needs 75% of the 12,000 true blue supporters to believe blindly in their empty promises in order to win the day, and I hope and believe that is the misjudgement they have made. You see – most working people don’t hand over £100, for very little in return, unless there is a principle involved, the principle I believe being for the majority of those 12,000 – the love of watching Chelsea FC play at Stamford Bridge.
And finally – what’s the ‘Treat’ you ask?
Well hopefully CPO gets handed back to the real supporters – where it belongs, as the INDEPENDENT guardian of Stamford Bridge and thereby Chelsea Football Club itself. After all how can the current 3 director’s positions be tenable after this blatant dereliction of purpose? I’m betting someone will propose a motion of no confidence in them all as soon as they loose the vote!
Happy Halloween CPO – Trick or Treat?