Port Vale Football Club: The community club. The friendly club. Right?
Maybe there was a time when this was the case but in January 2012 Port Vale FC is a club under lock-down.
It’s football’s equivalent of martial law as the club’s directors hide away from the supporters – escorted to and from their cars by burly bouncers.
Pull up on the car park at your club and security guards on the main entrance will make a note of your registration plate.
What’s more, you won’t get into the club unless you have an appointment. (Of course, getting an appointment with people who are hibernating is nigh on impossible).
Gone are the easy-come, easy-go days of yore when you could wander in and ask for a quick word with the chairman if he was free.
Supporters and shareholders are no longer welcome at their club as the men responsible for the current financial meltdown batten down the hatches and show utter contempt for the will of the people they are supposed to serve.
Be under no illusion: This is little more than a cynical attempt by the Chief Executive and his fellow directors to paint Vale fans as troublemakers.
The truth is there isn’t a Vale fan on the planet who could cause as much trouble for their club as the current board has with their lies and their incompetence.
How on Earth did it come to this?
How did we reach a situation where neither the official Supporters’ Club nor the local media can get a straight answer from those running Port Vale?
Why, after more than a month, have the fans still not received answers to questions they tabled on December 1?
Why do the powers-that-be continue to avoid answering legitimate questions from the Press regarding Vale’s finances?
I’ll tell you why: Because they have no answers. And, even if they did, who would believe a word they said?
Instead, the directors pick and choose when they talk to the local media. They ignore supporters and shareholders. They treat their employees with disdain.
The manager is unhappy. The players are unhappy. The fans are unhappy.
No wonder supporters are staying away in their droves. This situation simply can’t continue. Something has to give.
Mercifully, the Supporters’ Club has now set the wheels in motion towards an EGM to remove Messrs Miller, Oliver, Lloyd and Deakin from Port Vale.
But I wonder whether or not our club will even make it to an EGM or the planned AGM next month – given the seemingly parlous financial situation.
You see, I’m convinced December’s mortage arrangement with a Gibraltar firm breaches the terms of the loan agreement Port Vale has with the city council.
Surely the authority will have to clarify this soon and comment on the situation. After all, it has a duty to the taxpayers of Stoke-on-Trent…
Meanwhile, rumours abound that some of the club’s suppliers and contractors have gone months and months without being paid. In this situation, it only takes one disgruntled creditor to start a chain reaction which would be catastrophic.
I keep telling myself that things can only get better but, even on the pitch, we are plumbing new depths.
Granted, we have injury problems and can’t bring in loan signings (another broken promise from the board), but recent performances point to a deep malaise among the playing staff.
I wonder what cards manager Micky Adams has left to play to motivate a threadbare squad and players who either know they can’t be dropped or who will be leaving us on a free transfer in the Summer.
It’s truly grim, isn’t it?
The only saving grace is that the statue of the club’s greatest servant hasn’t yet gone up at Vale Park. At least Roy Sproson isn’t having to witness this sorry state of affairs.
All hope now rests with Port Vale’s fans to once again rescue the club from oblivion.
We must keep asking questions, keep on demonstrating and keep up the pressure.
We shall prevail. We must.
We are Vale.