Former Rochdale AFC chairman Chris Dunphy has unveiled plans to make a sensational return to the role in a bid to “save this great club”.
Dunphy stepped down as chairman in 2018, and left the board altogether, leaving majority shareholder Andrew Kilpatrick to fill the position. Kilpatrick announced his own decision to abdicate the role last month, citing personal reasons, with long-time director Andrew Kelly agreeing to step up on an interim basis only.
However, having watched an extraordinary fans’ forum, where it was revealed Kelly had become ill and the board were in dire need of fresh leadership and funds to keep the club going, Dunphy decided he could no longer stand idly by.
Dunphy’s plan to return as chairman involves long-time associate Bill Goodwin rejoining the board, as well as Francis Collins and Richard Wild, both of whom are executors of the late David Clough’s estate, which has been left to the football club. The pair say that using Clough’s legacy to purchase shares in the club would be a fitting tribute to the superfan and play a major part in achieving eternal supporter partial ownership.
Dunphy had previously sold his own shares privately to American businessmen Dan Altman and Emre Marcelli. At this point it is unclear whether Dunphy intends to buy these back or eventually work in tandem with the pair as fellow directors.
The former chairman now hopes shareholders will call an EGM to put forward his plans in order to garner support, ready for when Andrew Kelly steps down from his interim position.
Dunphy said: “As a former chairman and director for more than 30 years, I cannot stand on the sidelines and watch the club, which I have supported all my life, simply disappear without a fight. I can’t imagine having no football club in the town for my children and grandchildren to support.
“While I was chairman, I did all I could to ensure the security of the club, as well as develop the business, and now I feel I have to step up to the plate again, knowing in my heart that I did all I could to help save this great club.
“I have put a plan together that I feel would help secure the short-term survival of the club and safeguard the future.”
Dunphy said his first task would be to review the club’s finances via an audit and help find additional revenue following a season of no matchday income at Spotland.
He said: “I have experience in this role, as you know. I left the board in December 2018, so the last year I was responsible for was 17/18. The club lost £306,000, but that was on the back of a profit in excess of £1.3m the year before and these figures can be corroborated by Companies House.
“When I left, we had money in the bank and massive assets on the field in the form of Ian Henderson, Callum Camps, Joe Rafferty, Luke Matheson, Daniel Adshead, Andy Cannon, Harrison McGahey, and a huge sell-on fee due from Craig Dawson. In addition, there were property assets in the Ratcliffe Arms and the stadium itself.”
Chris Dunphy was chairman during the most successful period in Rochdale AFC’s on-field history, overseeing a first Wembley appearance and two promotions.
He added: “Supporters are the vital part of the club and they need to be treated as such, we need to find a way to make them feel more connected and there is a definite need to improve communication.
“This is my intended starting point. I want us to regain our credibility and get on the road to the club’s recovery.”