Toby Perkins believes there are three reasons why a recent bid to buy Chesterfield Football Club failed.
The Chesterfield MP has been given access to the correspondence between an interest party and club officials, as well as speaking to those involved in the bid in order to bring ‘clarity’ to supporters,
He told the Derbyshire Times that he hoped his intervention would reduce the ‘distrust’ surrounding the Spireites.
“I’ve been speaking to Ashley over the course of the last three months, about the potential bid,” he said.
“I think there’s been a lot of distrust out there from the perspective of supporters.
“From people questioning the actions the club has taken, to people questioning whether there was really ever any desire to sell and even people questioning whether the whole thing was an invention.
I had been told by Ashley his perspective and kept in touch with it and I think that distrust is not a healthy situation so I suggested he might want to, while respecting there are certain things that aren’t for public consumption, give a broader sense of how serious a bid it was and it might be worthwhile me seeing this stuff.
“He sent me the letters showing a bid being made, the response turning the initial one down and the subsequent one that was accepted.
“I followed that up and spoke to the people who made the bid.
“Hopefully what it does is gives fans a little bit more behind the smoke and mirrors and what is actually happening.”
Mr Perkins was unable to reveal the identity of those he spoke from the party that had agreed a deal to buy the club before Christmas.
But he was able to shed light on why the interest apparently fizzled out.
He cited a lack of trust, disagreement over the financial logistics of the deal and the club’s performance on the pitch of late.
“I think there are three things.
“Mistrust from both parties in each other, which is not a particularly healthy starting point, but not entirely unusual.
“Secondly there was a disagreement, a slightly unspoken disagreement about payment terms.
“Whilst the overall amount the club was going to be sold for was agreed, there was a disagreement on the payment terms.
“Thirdly, I think in the space between the initial first bid being made and the bid collapsing, the team drew one and lost four games and went from a position where there was strong reason for optimism that the club’s status in League Two was going to be assured, to a position where that looked less certain.
“I think that caused hesitancy on behalf of the potential buyer.”
The MP says the deal is ‘very dormant’ if not dead.
“You can never say never in business or football but the club say they’ve moved on to alternative discussions,” he said.
“I don’t think either see it as a live project at this moment.”
He believed intervening as a third party and public figure was important to try and ease the tension between supporters and the powers that be at the Proact.
“Whenever results are bad, relationships between the board and fanbase are going to be stretched.
“It’s a League One sized club massively underperforming at the moment.
“It’s regrettable that there’s so much distrust by fans in the leadership of the club.
“That’s why it was important to try and give some clarity to fans.
“If my intervention is able to slightly reduce the mistrust then that’s a good thing.
“I recognise that the healthiest thing for the club is that it has a leadership that wants to be there.
“I think they genuinely want to sell, as far as I can see there’s a genuine desire to make the club available for sale and be realistic about what it’s worth.
“It’s easy to be critical of the leadership of Chesterfield and there’s reasons to be critical.
“But it’s worthwhile remembering that the model of football in this day in age is to be all too reliant on benefactors.”
Mr Perkins says he is grateful to the club for keeping him in the loop on any potential sale, but wouldn’t be drawn on the status of another potential bid.
His belief is that public discussion of the pre-Christmas bid did not sit well with the interested party.
“I think there is a fine balance between a desire to keep the fans in touch with what’s going on and respecting those business confidences.
“Sometimes it’s wise that it’s spoken about at the point that something’s actually decided rather than in advance.
“When I talk about the mistrust that existed between both parties, part of that was based on the fact that I think the buyers perhaps felt there was too much being discussed in the public domain.
“That’s something they articulated when I spoke to them.”