Singh Close to Deal

by Scott Thornberry - 14th July 2009

singh close to deal

The self-made multi-millionaire says his lawyers are “well on the way” to completing the deal after agreeing terms “in principle” with George Houghton, and following the successful Company Voluntary Arrangement last week.

Mr Singh is now excited at the prospect of beginning a thorough restructuring of the football club from top-to-bottom, having already made two big off-field appointments.

Well-known former Middlesbrough figure Graham Fordy will join the new club as managing director, while experienced financier Andrew Wilson will be appointed financial director.

The self-made multi-millionaire says his lawyers are “well on the way” to completing the deal after agreeing terms “in principle” with George Houghton, and following the successful Company Voluntary Arrangement last week.

Mr Singh is now excited at the prospect of beginning a thorough restructuring of the football club from top-to-bottom, having already made two big off-field appointments.

Well-known former Middlesbrough figure Graham Fordy will join the new club as managing director, while experienced financier Andrew Wilson will be appointed financial director.

Fordy was part of Steve Gibson’s consortium which saved Boro from extinction in 1986 and went on to serve the club for more than 20 years, mainly as commercial manager, while Wilson has more than 40 years’ experience in corporate banking.

While it’s an exciting prospect for the troubled club, Mr Singh is acutely aware of past disappointments and let-downs Darlington fans have endured, so is therefore making no empty promises.

But he is appealing for supporters to get behind the club and have faith in what his new regime is trying to achieve.

“We’re desperate for the fans to get behind this,” says Mr Singh. “We know all too well the empty promises and false dawns which have let our supporters down so badly in the past, so we can’t blame them for being sceptical.

“I’m making no empty promises or wild predictions. My only promise is that this is a real, genuine effort by me and my new team to get Darlington Football Club back on its feet.

“There is no quick-fix, it’s not going to happen overnight, we’re well aware of that. It’s a long-term job but that’s why we have long-term plans. To make it work, though, we need the support of our fans now.

“Everyone knows that season ticket sales are absolutely crucial for the cash flow and for us to plan for the coming season, so we’re urging our fans to buy their season tickets as soon as possible to help the club – they can certainly be assured that every single penny of their money will go directly into the football club.

“Mistakes have been made in the past and the club, and its fans, have suffered for it big-time, so I know I will be on trial until they see tangible evidence the club is progressing forward. But I know what to expect, I know the challenges we face, and it’s a challenge I’m relishing.

“One of the biggest criticisms in the past has been failing to listen to the fans, and that’s why we’re talking to the Supporters’ Trust and other fans to get their opinions and hopefully improve that relationship. One suggestion is that if we get more than 2,000 season ticket holders, they can all vote for one fan to be elected on to the board – it’s only a suggestion but it’s certainly something we’re considering.

“I have the finances in place to secure the club’s long-term security, there’s absolutely no doubting that, but a serious restructuring of the club is also required to release a number of income streams previous regimes have not managed to crack.

“There’s a lot of untangling to do throughout the business to be able to do that. A lot of things are out of place, I’m talking about Premier League standards in a League Two club which were unsustainable and ended up crippling the club.

“That’s why things went the way they did and why so many creditors lost out, and we have every sympathy for them – we have to do everything in our power to make sure that never happens again.

“All of that needs addressing and that’s why I’ve appointed experienced business people to look into those areas and address them. I‘m delighted both Graham (Fordy) and Andy (Wilson) have come on board, on a consultancy basis. They are football people with years of invaluable experience and contacts, which will be of huge benefit to the club as we move forward.

“The new company is in a position to sign the new players we’ve signed as well as employ club staff, and the takeover has been agreed in principle. There’s still a number of matters to be ironed out, but our lawyers are well on the way to completing the deal.

“We’re nearly there, and I’d be hugely disappointed if it didn’t go through now after all this, but in the meantime I hope our fans can see and understand that this is a real attempt to run the club properly and get it turned around, and hopefully they will buy into it.”

Meanwhile, Mr Singh is delighted with the work new boss Colin Todd has done already in re-shaping the playing squad within his budget.

“Toddy is doing a fantastic job,” he said. “His contacts within the game are vast and his track record of spotting players is well known. He managed Boro, Bolton and Bradford on shoe-string budgets so he is well versed to the situation here at Darlington.

“But he has made what we think is an excellent appointment in Dean Windass as player-coach and has made a number of new signings, which will all be announced later this week, which we think will excite the fans.

“So there’s been a tremendous amount of work done behind the scenes already and hopefully our takeover will come to fruition in the coming weeks and we’ll officially come out of administration on July 23, ready to start to new season and a new leaf in August.”