A great injustice against Valiant shareholders


I thought the waiting was the worst part.
The fear, the hope and the anguish was clearly etched on the faces of shareholders who tried their best to do the maths on the back of a fag packet.
I was wrong.
When news filtered through that the revolution had not quite succeeded in beheading all of Port Vale’s aristocrats, emotions veered between outrage and despair.
That the 11th-hour change of heart by key shareholder Rob Lee was the difference between victory and limbo made the result all the more painful to bear for the vast majority.
This was a man who had publicly pledged to sell his shareholding to potential investor Mo Chaudry and agreed to sponsor Vale fan Mark Sims on to a new, interim board.
The betrayal felt by many supporters at this last-minute, business equivalent of a ‘Cruyff Turn’ was palpable.
Outside, the protesters – ordinary fans who have no shares, but who cared enough to give up their time to be there on this day of days – looked shell-shocked.
One lad sat away from the crowd, draped in his Black and Gold scarf, leaning against the brickwork of the main entrance with his head in his hands.
He looked like Vale had just lost the play-off final courtesy of a dubious penalty.
It is for that lad, and the others like him, that I write this column.
Frankly, he deserves better. We all do. Yesterday a great injustice befell the Valiant 900 or so.
Make no bones about it, the majority of shareholders who took part in yesterday’s EGM vote – either by post, proxy or in person – wanted change.
Only last-minute horse-trading and the breaking of promises saved Bill Bratt and his fellow directors Mike Lloyd and Glenn Oliver.
Even that couldn’t prevent Peter Jackson and Stan Meigh from suffering the indignity of being booted off the board.
The decision by Robbie Williams’s people to allow the supporters’ club to use his shares to sponsor Mark Sims on to the board was at least a crumb of comfort.
However, the fact that the board lost the vote of no confidence is, for me, the crucial factor in all of this.
Essentially, the majority of the club’s shareholders have no faith in Messrs Bratt, Oliver and Lloyd to take the club forward.
The chairman always told me that if the majority wanted him gone then he would step down.
Short of forcing 6,000 people to line up along Hamil Road and most of them telling him to go, this is as close as we will get to a majority view.
So spare us the semantics, Bill.
‘We are where we are’ so please do the honourable thing: Go now and take the last remnants of the old board with you.
Black and Gold, Starve ‘Em Out, North London Valiants and the hundreds of ordinary Vale fans who support them won’t go away.
And after yesterday’s travesty I will be standing with them.

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