Monday, 30 July 2012
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
And on that point, we do not, ever, leave comments on other websites. Others claiming to be us may do so in order to try to discredit us. Our advice to website owners and bloggers is to consider them false and delete them. We will make our views known via this blog and twitter.
CFCTruth has been disturbed to read some outrageously ill-informed and speculative articles by indignant shareholders as to the nature of the vote on resolution 3. Firstly, some of the language is the sort of hysterical rantings of the conspiracy theorist who refuses to look at the facts. The first fact they ignore is that the resolution was not "narrowly" defeated.
It was demolished.
It needed a 75 per cent vote to pass and got nowhere near that figure. And now we have a CPO statement, issued just as we write this, that confirms a further fact; Frankham had 103 discretionary votes and all were used to support the resolution.
The absolute murder being committed on the truth by some has taken this whole issue to a previously unknown nadir. Tantrums, disgraceful accusations, quite ludicrous assumptions and childish, foot-stamping frustration deserve absolutely no credibility whatsoever. The article on TheChels.net was quite the most demoralising demonstration of one-eyed, unfounded slander yet seen. And it simply has to stop since it contributes nothing - absolutely nothing - to the debate. We would expect these articles to be withdrawn and apologies issued. Those responsible are shareholders and have a right to comment and they claim to represent groups who they expect and hope will be taken seriously. Right now, the prospect of that is as remote as it is possible to be.
The behaviour of an ever decreasing number of aggressive and insulting individuals is corrupting shareholder desire to engage with the process at a time when we need more people involved. It diminishes the purpose of meetings, it diverts, in the most grotesque ways, the truth of the issues. It has become an insidious, relentless and increasingly unfounded smear campaign using the web and twitter. It is the cyberspace paroxysms of those who cannot accept their role as a minority, playground bullies and bar room lawyers biliously lashing out having parted completely from reality. Their comments become ever more extreme, untruthful, libellous even. It is shameful and will lead nowhere except, perhaps, to the demise of the CPO itself. All shareholders need to stand against this sort of thing without compromise. It embarrasses us all when, without even knowing the facts or seemingly understanding them, a shareholder screams "liar" at the board chairman and it is then reported approvingly in the above mentioned article.
It would be funny if it were not so tragic.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Of course, yesterday the result that caused upset was the rejection of the ten vote per shareholder limit. We are pleased that shares are back on sale.
The first thing to point out is that it would be a very one-dimensional assumption that those who beat away the resolution were all part of the much discussed "dodgy" share issue. They almost certainly were not since we have spoken to plenty of longterm shareholders on both sides of the argument who felt that it was wrong to withdraw their rights retrospectively. They would have preferred it to apply for future sales only. We are curious to know how some of those virulently in the "no" camp and who clearly control a great many shares, voted on this resolution. Nevertheless, we were keen for this resolution to pass, not so much because we felt it was "needed" in a practical sense but more because we believed it would help take the continuing heat out of the matter.
The reality is that the CPO board do not have to allow large purchases of shares and we feel it highly unlikely that there will be a renewed burst of purchases of 100 shares at a time. There will also likely be much tighter vetting. Indeed, and not a little ironically, the most likely course of events if a well known SayNo activist's tweets yesterday are anything to go by, is that there will be a concerted campaign of purchases by SayNo die hards in order to try to skew future votes. You couldn't make it up really.
It is vital that as many fans as possible are given the chance to become involved. Further, it is also critical that more of the current shareholders actually start to exercise their right to vote at EGMs. The turnout is pathetically low.
What is clear is that amidst all this hysterical conspiracy theorising, the real issues have actually been lost. Perhaps that is the intention? What is inescapable is the need for CFC to deal head on with the FFP regulations and it is in a bit of a pickle from the point of view of available options. The debate really does need to move on to just how this can be done. We wonder what might happen if all of the energies and emotions of those now attacking the CPO board and club was turned on LBHF, pressuring them to assist, say, a move to Earl's Court?
The continuing illogicality of their relationship with (and trust of) the council baffles us. These fans won't believe the evidence of the club regarding the expansion of Stamford Bridge but will unquestioningly lap up the unsubstantiated pronouncements of the council? If we all applied pressure and scrutiny to the council's continuing resistance, we might just get somewhere.
Friday, 20 July 2012
- There was lots of support on the panel for the idea that the CPO should start to charge substantial rent for Stamford Bridge in order to pay off the loan from the club. What makes the people on the panel - even Gray Smith, a lawyer – believe that there is a legal basis on which to tear up the existing lease for the ground and for the CPO to start imposing a rent on the club? Would the club not be within its rights to also ask for the terms of the loan repayment to be renegotiated?
- Why do so many people persist in expressing a lack of trust in Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay but say that they can and do trust Roman? Do they really think anything BB or RG do is against Roman’s wishes? People have to start being honest with themselves. You are entitled to doubt Buck and Gourlay's motives and actions but this also means you have to apply the same measure of mistrust in Roman.
- People on the panel all insisted that the way the CPO is being used now is no different from its original purpose when it was established. Are they seriously suggesting that protecting Stamford Bridge from our own club's ambitions and using the CPO as a lever to gain fan control over the club is really what it was set up for in 1993?
- Lots of talk in the discussion about 15-17,000 CPO shareholders being a healthy and substantial number of Chelsea fans to ‘hold the club to account’. But this is the total number of shares sold, not the number of shareholders. And even then only 5796 shares were used to cast votes at the crucial 2011 EGM. For the sake of argument, lets remove the 2686 shares sold in October 2011 - that leaves just 3110 original CPO shares which were deployed in the EGM and only 2227 (shares not shareholders) saying No to the club’s proposal. This is far too few people to be holding such power over the future of the club (and let us not forget that we are told only 12% of CPO shareholders are current members or season ticket holders). The CPO as an organisation is in desperate need of selling more shares to fellow Chelsea fans and therefore becoming more representative and democratic.
- We also heard another myth being stated and accepted unquestioningly – that if it wasn’t for the CPO and individual CPO shareholders the club would have been evicted from Stamford Bridge. Simply not true. The CPO shareholders of course deserve credit for investing in shares and helping to protect the club from potential threats at the time from property developers. But in fact our protection has never been tested or required. The real battle of Stamford Bridge had already been won by Ken Bates when Cabra Estates went bust in 1992.
- We were fascinated by Adil Pastakia’s expectations regarding the forthcoming report from Campaign55’s friendly stadium architect. Can we ask, if this architect is not a Chelsea fan, exactly what are his motives for providing expert advice on stadium planning at Stamford Bridge? Is he receiving a payment of some kind? How do we know whether to trust his conclusions without fully understanding his agenda? Anyway, we nevertheless look forward to carefully surveying Campaign55’s plans for the Bridge when they appear.
- We noted that the panel were still peddling the myth that new stadia equal blanket increases in ticket prices. The fact is that larger stadiums allow a wider range of prices. Therefore, for example, while Arsenal season ticket prices are higher than ours and adult tickets for big matches are also higher (cheapest adult ticket for a top game is £62 at Arsenal compared to £56 at Chelsea next season) the cheapest adult price ticket for the lesser games are much lower (£25.50 at Arsenal compared to £47 at Chelsea). Perhaps this is something for the panel members to consider when promoting the idea of a maximum capacity of 55,000 and telling us tales of traditional fans now being priced out of attending games.
- We remain completely confused as to why most of the panel members seem to have complete confidence that LBHF are genuinely supportive of the idea of a 55,000 capacity at Stamford Bridge. This question was asked at the FanCast but it was never really answered. Facts: the council has a declared intention to keep the club where it is and, when put on the spot, they have never supported the club’s ambitions before. But they are still trusted more than the man who has invested more than £1bn in the club and who has made us Champions of Europe? It would be funny if it weren’t so bizarre.
- Finally, we continually see the new TV rights deal being cited as a reason that the stadium issue doesn’t matter anymore and this same point was made in the FanCast. But this misses the point. According to the latest Deloitte Football Money League report, Manchester United earned £108.6m in matchday income in the 2010/11 season compared to £93.1m for Arsenal and only (a creditable) £67.5m for Chelsea. Regardless of the rise in TV income this builds in a persistent £41m annual deficit in income for Chelsea compared to United and a £25.6m deficit to Arsenal. And given that a proportion of the additional TV income will be allocated on the basis of the on-field club performance, the matchday income gap will go towards supporting an increased TV income gap too. Stadium income still matters, regardless of the TV deal.
Thursday, 19 July 2012
We continue to say that as many fans as possible should be given an opportunity to have their say in this process, whatever the eventual proposals. And they should be given as many "easy-pay" opportunities as is practicable. A small rump of an already small minority of Chelsea fans cannot continue to obstruct, divert and bring an unpleasantly toxic tone to this whole process.
An exchange on Twitter last night gave quite an enlightening insight into quite how "personal" the matter has become. In answer to a comment that shares should go on sale to as many as possible, one tweeter responded that to do so now would "only benefit the club". This was further explained with "for club, read BB/RG". Really? This is all just a battle with two men? This is only about giving two executives at CFC a bloody nose? They represent the "club"? We don't like either of them so the "club" can go hang?
There seems no sensible reason why the constituency of CPO should not be increased. Well, there is one but we are not being fooled otherwise by people who simply appear determined to keep the process as contained and "winnable" as possible. With every day, this becomes clearer and clearer.
The suggestion that CPO should tear up the legal process and do whatever is asked of them is absurd. To propose that the club should be charged rent in order that the loan they hold the ticket on is repaid is nonsense. Suddenly, because a minority doesn't like what the majority may vote for, it wants to change the basis for the entire company, curtail the rights of other shareholders and to compress the constituency as much as possible. And they talk about "gerrymandering"? It is desperate, chaotic thinking of the most narrow-minded kind and we find it deeply unpleasant. It says that other fans, now that there is a real prospect of the club considering a move, should not in any circumstances have a right to contribute to that process. We are told that we should countenance such a thing because there are "dodgy" shares. Limiting the voting rights of all, including those "dodgy" shares has made no difference.
Because it isn't really about those shares.
It is about preventing the potential for a wave of other Chelsea fans, seduced and excited by the prospect of a new stadium, getting in on the act.
Why would the club NOT take a more hardline view of this now? They have been attacked, abused, assailed by endless accusations (none of which even nod respectfully in the direction of logic) that are more fancifully embroidered with every passing day. Land values trip off a myriad tongues, each seemingly eager to outdo their compliant interlocutors for outlandishness. "Gangsterism" and "criminality" are words flung about with abandon. Would any of us be surprised if the club decided to take every action necessary to disband Chelsea Pitch Owners in a trice? Would an owner, a billion pounds lighter in the pocket as his price for the joy we have all experienced in recent years, but now being accused of all manner of betrayal, malice and barefaced avarice, be harshly judged if he decided he'd had enough of it?
As sad an outcome as that would be, he wouldn't find himself condemned on these pages.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Monday, 16 July 2012
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Our recent blog has caused some consternation. In that blog we speculated as to the ownership of Oswald Stoll Mansions. Our information was that there was some connection to the council and we asked a question as to the ownership of the property. There appears to be some confusion as to whether LBHF would have a financial interest in any sale that might ever occur and as such we have removed the question/suggestion from that particular post. We did not intend to mislead anyone and apologise for not having made ourselves clearer at the time. We were merely seeking clarification ourselves. We will look into it further.
However, the suggestion from the council that the club buy the property to aid any SB expansion is a matter of public fact, published on the CPO website in their report of the meeting the board had with the council. There was, you may recall, some controversy about that aspect at the time.
We have not, in our blog or anywhere else suggested that the council CLAIMED to have ownership of OSM, merely that our various sources have a) supported the conclusion that OSM land is needed and b) that the council had suggested to the CPO board that CFC approach OSM about purchase. We quote from the CPO statement of 7th May, 2012;
"In order to provide extra egresses to clear that capacity from the area, LBHF believed that just one end of terrace property would need to be compulsory purchased and removed. They questioned whether CFC had inquired as to a possible purchase of Oswald Stoll Buildings, next to Stamford Bridge."
In that same blog we reported on information we had received from an industry source into a third party study that had concluded, just as Chelsea's had, that OSM would be a necessary purchase in order to feasibly develop SB and to comply with regulation. That same source suggested that rehousing the residents of OSM would be expensive...between 100 and 150 million. This figure does not refer to the purchase price of OSM.
One final thing. There are continuing suggestions from some that CFCTruth is in some way linked to, originated or influenced by CPO chairman Steve Frankham. This continues to be a ridiculous and dangerous suggestion and we can state once and for all that it is categorically incorrect. We have said before that CFCTruth is a group of fans and shareholders who come by information from various sources. Everything we have published is either in the public domain or comes via industry sources who are separate from both the club and the CPO board. Campaign groups (of which we are not one) are no doubt searching for information from people closely connected to the process and have revealed as such in their blogs, tweets and websites
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Battersea has occupied many minds and the recent news of its successful purchase by the Malaysians has been disappointing. "It is not a dead duck", said one who is extremely close to the process, "but it is a severely injured one". A watching brief. One expects the club's lack of statement on the matter is a glimmer of hope that all is not lost there.
On our travels we have also managed to garner information from others who have been closely involved with the process of Chelsea's stadium search (no names of course). One industry source had revealed that CapCo had commissioned a stadium feasibility at Earl's Court and a "third party" (i.e. not CFC in this instance) had also asked for a stadium expansion at SB to be studied. The outcome of the latter also deduced (like CFC's) that major compulsory purchase was necessary, particularly of Oswald Stoll mansions. Which is intriguing when you think about it. LBHF recently strongly suggested to the CPO board (in the report of that meeting published on the CPO website) that the club should try to buy the old soldiers homes. When we asked (the industry source of the information for the third party study for those who have difficulty understanding) what it would cost just to rehouse the tenants should they accede to the sale, the answer was "between 100 and 150 million pounds". So we could add that to the enormous cost of a not very productive expansion. As well as the land. And the planning war that would ensue, the dreadful PR etc etc. There was some interesting exposition on the nature of the stadium design they came up with too...and you wouldn't like it!
Anyway, on the subject of Earl's Court, this would appear to now be CFC's best hope. We had heard that the study ordered by CapCo had determined that the design would be best placed at the West Brompton end of the development site which is where the most profitable residential properties would be located. CapCo are not mad keen for that to happen of course but the answer to that is to be found at Stamford Bridge.....
We just have to wait and see.
Which brings us on to the EGM. Some fans groups and websites are still trumpeting about "dodgy shares" and have been suggesting that fans should vote for shares to remain suspended. We have read clarion calls for "democracy" from people who fear the involvement of other fans, especially younger ones who they obviously don't believe should have a say in Chelsea's future. The slogan appears to have become "you 'aint a real fan!" if you feel CFC should move away from Stamford Bridge.
The shares from last October have been dealt with by Mr Smith and he has firmly advised that the company must urgently begin to sell shares again. Mr Smith's conclusions may not have been what some intent on a witch hunt wanted to hear but that is that. What groups who are supposed to cherish the existence of CPO, believe they will achieve by this advice we do not know. It is highly likely that should the vote on share sales be lost, CFC will seek the immediate liquidation of the company which seems an odd aim for fans to have. We know that many fans, who feel CFC should be free of the conspiracy theories and accusations to do what they think is best for the club, have decided to vote no to the resumption of sales in order that CPO is indeed disbanded. Which is a shame.
The shares that people keep harping on about did nothing to change the outcome of the October EGM. They did nothing to change the outcomes of votes at the last AGM either, despite a procession of speakers claiming the whole event was a farce because those "dodgy" shares would swing everything. Besides, the ten share limit resolution tabled for the EGM should deal with the matter. As a footnote to this point, some individuals ought also to be very careful with their accusations against certain people too. Just some friendly advice.
Our own position on the vote is that shares should go on sale and the CPO should begin to engage with many more fans of all generations so that they have their say too.
We would also welcome measures to prevent profiteers; something it becomes ever more worryingly obvious is the driving motivation behind some shareholders' actions.
CFCTruth will continue to search for the facts and bring them to you. You will no doubt be assailed by ever more hysterical statements and accusations over the next few days and the EGM will no doubt descend into a bar room brawl of misinformation, conspiracy and intimidation. If you are attending the EGM, don't be intimidated. Stand up and say your piece (whatever side of the fence you sit). Don't allow yourself to be harangued or swept up by showboating campaigners. It is your club too. Have your say and cast your vote as you see fit.