Despite being granted a 56-day stay of execution in the High Court last week, it appears that Cardiff City Football Club’s future is once again on a knife edge.
We have been reliably informed that administration is virtually inevitable before the end of March if significant new investment in the club has not materialised by then. We understand the Bluebirds’ cash reserves are practically exhausted, there is little money available to pay this month’s wage bill and debts are now estimated at almost £40 million.
The situation is clearly perilous, although we are led to believe there may be light at the end of the tunnel thanks to a written offer of investment from a Malaysian consortium. The group’s front-man, Dato Chan Tien Ghee, is said to be arriving in the UK on Thursday for a series of meetings with Bluebirds’ officials, during which the club’s fate will effectively be sealed.
The men who appear to hold the key to the football club’s future are Cardiff-based property developers Paul Guy and Mike Hall. Their company, PMG, is the club’s biggest shareholder and also its largest secured creditor. Consequently, they are certain to be central to any takeover negotiations.
During recent years, PMG has benefited from a series of lucrative land deals connected to the Cardiff City Stadium project. Not only has the company become the sole owner of the successful Capital Retail Park, but it was also chosen to develop and build the Glamorgan Records Office, which stands adjacent to the new stadium.
In addition, PMG recently purchased another large plot of land on the stadium site, upon which a hotel will eventually be developed.
It is clear that PMG has been doing very nicely from its relationship with Cardiff City, but the current state of the football club’s finances suggests the benefits of this association have not been entirely mutual.
It should be acknowledged that Paul Guy and Mike Hall were largely instrumental in getting the new stadium project off the ground. They advised on all stadium development issues, while PMG advanced the club £9 million of the funding required to build it. The loan was secured against future income from the Premier Club seating area and attracts interest estimated at £500,000 pa.
In December 2006, while he and his colleagues were in the process of taking control of Cardiff City, Mike Hall claimed the new investors were local people who were interested in the football club’s long-term future. He also described former-owner Sam Hammam as being motivated by “total greed and self-interest.”
We sincerely hope that Messrs Guy and Hall will not put themselves in a position whereby they will be open to similar accusations from Bluebirds’ supporters during the coming weeks. We therefore call upon them to set aside their personal interests and do what is right for Cardiff City Football Club in the critical days ahead.