I can’t quite believe that here we are, 10 days before the start of our first competitive fixture of the new season, and Port Vale is still in a state of crisis.
When Keith Ryder was unveiled as the preferred bidder for the club at the beginning of April, no-one could have envisaged that four months later we would still be waiting for his money to arrive and for the deal to go through.
Yes, there will be a few know-it-alls trying to claim some credit, pretending that they knew all along that Keef had no money.
There will also be a few still banging the drum for Mo Chaudry and saying it would all have been so different if the Waterworld owner had taken over.
So let’s set a few records straight before tomorrow night’s Supporters’ Club meeting at Vale Park.
No-one – none of us – could have foreseen that we would still be waiting for Keith Ryder’s money to come through four months after he was anointed. I include the administrators in this.
I met Keith Ryder privately three times but came away with the same impression anyone who had met him at the open forum would have had: Seems like a decent bloke. Head screwed on. No daft promises.
In the end, I was left clutching at the fact that it was the job of the administrators and, to a lesser extent, the Football League to check that the Lancashire businessman had the financial wherewithall and was a fit and proper person to own a football club.
The jury is still out on both, in my opinion.
But if Mr Ryder does now comes through with the money – and, let’s face it, it’s a big if – he has some serious explaining to do and, I reckon, some apologising to do to Vale’s fanbase who have been strung along with failed promises for weeks.
This is certainly not the new era of openness and transparency he acknowledged was needed when Supporters’ Club representatives met with him on several occasions.
As for Mr Chaudry, well it is fair to say that he hasn’t covered himself in glory this week by criticising the Supporters’ Club for not backing his bid.
We didn’t back your bid, Mo, because we were busy backing Port Vale.
We didn’t back your bid, Mo, because we didn’t see ANY of the bids. Only the administrators were privvy to that information so how could we back a bid that we hadn’t seen?
We didn’t back your bid, Mo, because suppose we had and then someone else had been named as the preferred bidder? Awkward…
No, the Supporters’ Club committee did what it has always done – certainly during my involvement – and that is to look out for Port Vale: To put ourselves in the best position to negotiate on behalf of, and represent the views of, the wider fanbase.
If Mo is a Vale fan, as he claims, then I’m sure he is sitting there as upset as the rest of us about this turn of events and wondering how he can help with his hands and his wallet.
Because scoring cheap points on radio shows does no-one any favours, does it?
Mr Chaudry had the best chance of any bidder to take over Port Vale. Fact. So we shouldn’t let anyone try to rewrite history at this stage.
I’m not going to sit here now, or tomorrow night, and pretend that everything has always been rosy in the garden since April.
The SC committee, especially yours truly, has disagreed with Keith Ryder and the administrators and often been appalled at the poor communication from both – prompting us to intervene several times.
However, and this is crucial, we have at all times set aside our own personal frustrations and put the club first – keeping all channels of communication open.
Just ask those fans on the internet who use social media or people who buy The Sentinel and who were kept informed of developments every day last week – as and when the SC was given new information.
It is easy to criticise. I’m guilty of it myself. But to sling stones at the Supporters’ Club because you’re angry and frustrated at what is happening at Port Vale is pointless and, frankly, out of order. But that’s what some people choose to do.
A few people, and it is a few who I could name, have very short memories it seems – along with their own personal agendas, of course.
What I would say to these individuals is: Tomorrow is your chance to come up to the Supporters’ Club committee members or say in public all the things you want to get off your chest.
For me, I would say that Vale supporters are strongest and have most influence when we are united towards a common goal.
Right now that should still be the very survival of our football club.
Tomorrow night we have an opportunity to come together and quiz Bob Young – the man responsible for guiding Port Vale through these choppy waters.
Whatever anyone thinks of him he has the guts to appear at the meeting. He doesn’t have to. It’s his call.
Thus I’m hoping for a constructive and positive first hour of the meeting where Bob will hopefully be able to answer a number of key questions.
This isn’t quite the Supporters’ Club meeting we had all hoped for.
We were hoping to get together to discuss how the remaining funds donated by fans could be spent and to release details of the Sproson Day.
I guess that will have to wait.
By the way, I’ve just rung Keith. He didn’t answer (quelle surprise) and so I left a message inviting him to tomorrow night’s meeting. You never know…