Morecambe board: EFL still needed more information on takeover

Morecambe’s board has confirmed the EFL had still been awaiting documentation concerning Sarbjot Johal’s proposed takeover at the Mazuma Stadium.
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The news came during a meeting the club’s board of directors held with the Shrimps Trust fans group on May 24.

Minutes of that meeting were sent out to Trust members last week before subsequently being published online elsewhere.

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The EFL had said almost four months ago that it required further information from Johal, who had been linked with a buyout of the club after it was put up for sale by the owner, Bond Group Investments, last September.

Morecambe were put up for sale last SeptemberMorecambe were put up for sale last September
Morecambe were put up for sale last September
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Key dates for 2023/24

The Trust asked how regular the contact was between the club and Bond Group, as well as querying if there was any update on how close Johal’s Sarb Capital company was to completing any takeover.

In response, the club said: “Rod (Taylor) and Graham (Howse, co-chairmen) have their own roles within the club.

“Graham is the one who speaks with Jason (Whittingham, club owner) all the time and this includes discussion re the sale of the club. This contact has been daily.

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“The EFL have been doing all they can, they have been asking the questions but are still awaiting more documentation which has not been provided to them yet.”

Frustration at the protracted takeover process, as well as questions surrounding Johal’s finances, have led some to wonder if there are alternative buyers out there instead.

Asked if the board was aware of any other interest, it responded: “Yes, the board are aware of other interested parties and these have been passed to Jason.

“For legal reasons Jason is unable to seek new interested parties at the moment, but they can approach him.”

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Little more than a week after Morecambe’s relegation from League One, the club’s directors published a statement in which they publicly called on Bond Group to sell up.

Part of that statement also included the news that around £2.5m in loans had been repaid to Bond Group, at their request, over a two-year period.

With a break-even budget requested for next season, prior to the news of a ‘support package’ from Bond Group last week, the club gave further information on its financial planning: both in terms of season ticket expectation and meeting its targets.

It said: “The money that was paid back in the 2022 financial statements was loans that the previous owner, Peter McGuigan, had signed up for prior to Bond Group acquiring the company, and were attracting a high rate of interest.

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“Based on statistical information, season ticket renewals in the first year after relegation can be up to 98 per cent, with a drop off in the second year.

“We have budgeted for a lower percentage prudently. It’s not only just about season tickets, we still have to hit targets in all areas of the club with a baseline that is achievable to secure the football club.

“Sky have been clawing back money from all clubs through EFL central funding for when there was no televised football due to Covid and we are still paying them now, but this is coming to an end.

“We have repurchased the land at the front of the stadium, but at present we have no money to develop this.”

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