GREG LAMBERT speaks to Durham tax consultant Graham Burnard who says that HE is actually the owner of Morecambe FC – a role he never wanted – and that the club is now “not up for sale”.
GL: Mr Burnard, can you explain how you first became involved in Morecambe FC?
GB: I set up a company called G50; I set up two companies actually, for Diego Lemos. I then issued shares in one of these companies (Sport 99) to Diego Lemos and Abdulrahman Al-Hashemi. I have never been paid for the share issue. I’ve never been paid for any of it. I then set up G50 electronically. Diego told me he wanted to issue more shares. So I shared one share in G50 to Diego Lemos, then did an SH01 (share issue form) for the other 99. I told him I was holding the 99 other shares until he paid me back. He was going to buy these shares off me. He then went and bought Morecambe Football Club (in September 2016) using G50, unbeknown to me. This was nothing to do with me until he walked out and then suddenly everybody was looking at G50. I’ve got 99 per cent of the shares. Not exactly what I intended or wanted.
GL: So does this mean you own Morecambe Football Club?
GB: Diego says he owns it. I say I’ve been left it. If he owns it, get in there and pay the bills. I am the one running around plugging holes, trying to sort out the wages so we can perform and play games. PMG Leisure (operators of the Globe Arena artificial pitches) is in administration. This means we can’t get into the match day control room. I’m trying to do a deal with Moorfields the administrators; if we can get a deal where we can buy it reasonably. I want to stabilise the club. That’s my aim. I’ve been parachuted into this situation.
GL: I want to be 100 per cent clear on this. You own the majority of shares in G50. So this makes you the owner of the football club?
GB: I am the owner. I will stabilise the club and move it forward. I’ve also got the Al-Hashemi family saying they have spent money in there. Mr Al-Hashemi is my client.
GL: Where is Abdulrahman Al-Hashemi now?
GB: I don’t know.
GL: Companies House shows that Mr Lemos resigned as a director of G50 Holdings Ltd in January 2017. He says he didn’t resign. What actually happened there?
GB: When Mr Lemos disappeared and I found out what was going on, then my 99 shares came into play. I tried to contact Mr Lemos several times. When I didn’t hear from him, I put myself on there (as director of G50). This happens all the time. It’s no big deal.
GL: A court case took place yesterday in Manchester: G50 Holdings and Lemos versus yourself. I don’t understand this – if you hold the controlling stake in G50, how can G50 take legal action against you?
GB: Myself and my legal team are absolutely confident about my position. Who is trying to stabilise the club and who is running it? It certainly isn’t Mr Lemos.
GL: Last Friday, Morecambe FC put out a statement saying that Abdulrahman Al-Hashemi had agreed to sell his interest in G50 Holdings Ltd to the Cala Corporation, headed by Joseph Cala. Is this still the case?
GB: That’s not possible because of the English Football League. The EFL haven’t been informed that (Cala) is the new owner. This takes it back to square one.
GL: Mr Cala says he’s the owner subject to EFL checks. Is that right?
GB: Anyone has to go through the ‘fit and proper’ test and they are fast tracking it through. My client (Mr Al-Hashemi) is my backer. He does not want to own the football club. Cala is saying he’s bought the football club. But I haven’t seen one penny. I was introduced to him through the board. Look, there’s no money. The club needs money. Either pay the club out of its debt or go away. There is no imminent buyer. If Joseph Cala is a fit and proper person, and I am allowed to sell to him, and he has the money to put in...if anyone has the money to put in, I can sell to them. There needs to be £3m put into the club to pay the debts.
GL: Mr Burnard, what exactly is your job title?
GB: I am a tax consultant.
GL: Have you been to Morecambe to try to sort the mess out personally?
GB: I’m in and out of Morecambe most days. I speak to the club most days. I’m looking for finance.
GL: Another media organisation has published a copy of a court order from yesterday’s case, which I have seen.
GB: Well, that’s more than I have. As far as I’m aware (the order says) I have to give 72 hours’ notice (to Lemos) if I want to sell the club and I have to give the EFL 14 days’ notice. But the Diego Lemos issue is a sideshow. I’ve had many conversations with Joseph Cala where he says he’s going to do this and that. But as far as I’m concerned, the club is not for sale. Let’s get it cleaned up, let’s get it stabilised. It needs sorting out.
*We have contacted Diego Lemos’ representatives for comment. We had received no response as we went to press.
Friday update on the Morecambe FC crisis HERE.