PRESSURE from Sheffield Steelers fans has led to co-owner Paul Ragan handing over majority-shareholding to his Sheffield based partner Tony Smith.
The move, which now sees Smith with 51 per cent of the shares, will be seen to further distance Wales-based millionaire Ragan, who owns Cardiff Devils.
Recently Ragan’s Rink Corp company went into liquidation, putting an unwelcome spotlight, again, on the finances of a club that has lurched from one crisis to another over the years.
Rink Corp, which added Steelers to its portfolio at the start of this year, is thought to owe around a quarter of a million pounds in tax and VAT alone.
Today’s development is meant to show that Smith is very much the ‘new broom’ in charge at the Arena. “I was happy at 50-50 (per cent ownership)” said Smith.
“I had a legal agreement with Paul that I’d have full control and was working under that agreement. It was however apparent that some supporters had some concerns that this wasn’t the case.
“I spoke with Paul about me taking the majority shareholding and he was more than happy with that. Paul is happy being away from the Steelers and is fully committed to the Cardiff club. He also knows that it is important for the league that the Steelers are a strong and stable club and if this helps do that then he is in full agreement.
“Make no mistake. I’m the boss, I’m in full control and I’m making the decisions alongside my management team. There will be a nice little edge when Steelers and Devils play next season. I hopr we can put one over on Cardiff. Paul and I are competitive - we both will want to win. I’m confident with (coach) Ryan Finnerty’s help I’ll be the one smiling.”
Smith said “lots of good things have happened behind the scenes” and that several sponsors had come forward, as the focus turns to the August 27 20-year anniversary ‘Festival of Hockey.’
Finnerty hopes to unveil two signings later this week.