Earning trust is New Year aim of consortium head

THE man at the helm of a bid to take control of Woking Football Club says it is time for ‘reflection’ and ‘rebuilding trust’ after talks with Kingfield officials broke down before the New Year.

Ockham-based businessman Ashley Read, 34, announced his intention to purchase a majority stake in the National League outfit in a News & Mail exclusive at the end of November.

Since then, club director Peter Jordan, who owns the 75% controlling stake that Mr Read is targeting, has gone back on a reported plan to retire from the board on 2 January (last Saturday).

Sniping on social media and uncertainty surrounding the club’s future – in the wake of losses exceeding £400,000 last financial year, announced at November’s AGM – had caused a stall in negotiations.

But on Tuesday, prior to signing an exclusive Confidentiality Deed – which grants him access to the club’s books – and submitting it to Woking FC today (Thursday), Mr Read told the News & Mail that his intentions are only to do what is best for the club.

“In my enthusiasm, and occasional frustration at delays, things have been said which, on reflection, were not
perhaps wise,” he conceded.

“If this has caused supporters to doubt my motives then it is up to me and my team to rebuild trust – a period of reflective silence following this statement is probably the best advice I have received in the past few days.”

A ‘very short starting list’ of basic financial information has been requested by Mr Read, who now wants the impetus put back on progressing with the deal as opposed to ‘point scoring’.

He explained: “We need the list in order to be satisfied that our understanding of the financial situation is correct.

“I am already a small shareholder and, when I was approached some months ago and asked if I had any interest in acquiring Peter Jordan’s majority stake, I was – and remain – keen to progress this offer, which I repeat was based upon an initial unsolicited approach to me. My understanding is that the club has a basic annual loss of around £200,000 which, in the past, has been covered by cash injections, most recently from Mr Jordan, who has put in a staggering amount of money to keep Woking FC not only competitive, but punching well above their weight.”

Meanwhile, a very different type of point scoring has been going on down at Kingfield, with Garry Hill and his charges haring up the National League standings with six wins in their last eight games.

The wonderful run of form has seen the Cards climb from 17th to seventh in the table, and they now sit just three points off the coveted play-off positions. Concluding his statement, Mr Read looked to allay any doubts over his own financial integrity.

“My understanding is that Mr Jordan feels the responsibility for financing the club should be passed on, and I remain keen to step in and examine how best to address and manage the ongoing financial gap, including any shortfall that the board may have identified for next season.

“While I am prepared to do this on my own, I have put together a small team of  businessmen who have individually expressed interest in providing a mix of support and expertise which, should I be successful in taking over Mr Jordan’s shares, I shall certainly be calling upon.

“I would like to also point out that Dennis Read and Capital Demolition [Mr Read’s father and his company] are not part of the consortium or have any dealing with the ongoing negotiations with the club.”

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