Major decisions made at Rochdale AFC shareholder meet

The Rochdale AFC board of directors has withdrawn the four resolutions proposed for releasing new shares in the club and has agreed to instead explore alternative ways of generating new investment.

The decision was made at tonight’s host of Annual and Extraordinary General Meetings.

Rochdale AFC shareholders also voted to remove club chief executive David Bottomley and Graham Rawlinson from the board of directors during the five-hour marathon event.

The collective shareholders expressed concern at a proposed resolution that would have seen them waive their rights to purchase new shares for the next five years, as well as those to issue unlimited, 697,042 and 397,042 shares respectively.

Should the resolutions have been passed, it was revealed that the board had already identified preferred investors for the club, who intended to acquire a 51% stake. The identities of these investors were not revealed due them having signed Non-Disclosure Agreements.

However, after several compelling presentations from shareholders, the board agreed to withdraw the resolutions and explore alternative ways of raising funds and attracting investors.

It was then down to the other business of the evening.

Part of the Supporters’ Trust’s call for an EGM concerned the reversal of shareholders Dan Altman and Emre Marcelli’s decision to join the board of directors, claiming this was based upon “serious internal issues” at the club and their dissatisfaction at the club’s handling of those concerns. The attending board members were grilled by attending shareholders on key issues such as the extending of first-team manager Brian Barry-Murphy’s contract by a further year, and not informing the supporters, as well as questions around pay rises awarded to unnamed executives.

Afterwards, the two members put forward prior to the meetings, David Bottomley and Graham Rawlinson, were voted off the board of directors. This leaves only interim chairman Andrew Kelly, Tony Pockney and the newly elevated Nick Grindrod as full board members. Bottomley does, of course, retain his employed position as chief executive.

What remains now is for the shareholders and remaining board members to collectively decide on the future of the football club. Investment is desperately needed and that is not up for debate, but not at the risk of the club’s long-term future. Fresh leadership is needed too, with Kelly stepping down in the coming months.

Chairman of the Supporters’ Trust, Colin Cavanah, said: “I am personally delighted that the club’s share proposals have been withdrawn this evening. Had they been approved, we’d have been giving authorisation to sell the club to a board consisting of three people with a combined shareholding of less than 15% of the club. We are not averse to the club asking shareholders to approve the sale to a named individual or group, but it cannot be acceptable for shareholders being asked to approve a ‘blind’ sale.

“Under no circumstances should any of the outcomes from tonight’s meeting be considered personal or a vendetta, and it is both hurtful and offensive to the Dale shareholders to even suggest that. You only have to look at the number of people who have voted the same way as the Trust tonight.

“Dale fans share a common concern about the governance of any football club, and it is without doubt that there is a genuine pride among the fanbase that we remain the one EFL side in the Greater Manchester area to have never been in administration. Tonight’s outcomes indicate a real need for the club to engage with the fanbase and ask what supporters want from their football club.

“We will provide a full update to our members and fellow supporters via our website on Wednesday.”

The club has also been approached for comment.