Representatives of the Trust, Supporters Club, Disabled Supporters Group plus other fans representatives were invited at short notice to a meeting with Mehmet Dalman, Ken Choo and other club representatives at 11.00 am on the morning of the Middlesbrough home game. The meeting was conducted primarily by Mehmet with occasional contributions by Ken. Given the dire form of the team at the moment it was a sobering experience with further bad news about the financial situation the club finds itself in.
In terms of overall finances. MD stated categorically that there would be no transfer funds available for not only the January transfer window but also next summer. As a number of players’ contracts expire this summer it will be challenging for the incumbent manager. MD stated that Vincent Tan is looking to restructure the finances of the club although specific detail of this proposal was not forthcoming. MD reiterated statements he has made in the past that VT has turned down offers to buy the club and restated VT’s wish that, if he does sell, he will wish to part with the club with it in a better position than when he acquired it. MD emphasised throughout how financially reliant the club is on VT.
The future of Mick McCarthy was discussed at length. Questions from the floor were raised about the possibility of a Director of Football. MD stated that it is an idea which he favours and has put the suggestion forward to VT who, after consideration, turned down the proposal. In terms of any decision regarding the future of Mick McCarthy he emphasised that such a decision would be solely in the hands of VT and no one else. Given that we now know that the Club and MM have parted company, VT’s decision must either have been pre-prepared dependent upon today’s result or sought and communicated very quickly. It was suggested from the floor that, given the success, we are currently experiencing at U23 level, Steve Morison could be appointed as an interim measure whilst the club sorted out a long-term replacement. MD pointed out, given the real risk of relegation, the inherent risks of such an approach. As we now know that is exactly what has happened so we can only assume that the club has risk assessed that approach.
MD gave his assessment of the legal cases currently facing the club. In terms of the court case currently taking place in Cardiff re the arrangements for the fatal flight carrying Emiliano Sala. He commented on the fact that the evidence was confirming the link directly from the deceased pilot to Henderson to Willie McKay who was acting on behalf of Nantes FC. MD stated that, should the club’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) be unsuccessful, the possibility than would exist for action in the French courts against Nantes FC for the negligent flight arrangements. Interestingly, MD stated categorically that both he and KC were opposed to the transfer of Emiliano Sala and that Neil Warnock had gone over their heads and appealed directly to VT persuading him to approve the transfer which he duly did. MD was asked from the floor why the club was dealing with McKay who had lost his status as a football agent and had also been declared bankrupt. MD’s only answer to that question was that the world of football was full of people like him.
The Michael Isaacs case concerns the dilution of his shareholding by VT’s significant conversion of debt to equity. MD was somewhat dismissive of this action in that Michael Isaac’s valuation of his shareholding would vastly overvalue the club as an entity, mostly a loss-making entity!
In terms of the Sam Hammam case. He implied that Peter Ridsdale was acting in concert with Sam Hammam against the club. If any EFL club are involved in significant litigation the EFL requires that is informed of developments. MD suggested that Ridsdale’s position on the board of the EFL could lead to a conflict of interest.
In response to a question from the floor, MD confirmed that he receives no salary from the club in his position as Chairman.
Fans present were critical of the level of communication with supporters and MD mentioned the possibility of quarterly online meetings. It was also suggested from the floor that an invite be sent to social media outlets such as those who run fan messageboards so that they receive factual updates rather than misleading interpretations that often get posted.
One of the consistent themes throughout the meeting was the absolute control of VT over all matters of significance. MD described the Cardiff City Board as being “unique” in that it is dominated by the owner and (virtually) 100% shareholder. As I have already mentioned MD stated that the change of manager decision was in the hands of VT, all major decisions require the rubber stamp of VT even down to the style of football.
Apparently, VT favours the “direct” style of football which has been a feature of our play in recent times. The fact that this contrasts significantly with the style of football played by our successful Development teams and may risk us not hanging on to our most promising players was pointed out from the floor