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Selling a club on ebay? PR-stunts and non-league

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

You may have seen news of a PR-stunt involving Basingstoke Town being sold on Ebay – former-PA reporter Ken Gaunt is here to tell us more…

Two potential investors are believed to have come forward in the wake of the fake sale of Basingstoke Town on Ebay. It is understood one is from the United States while the other contacted the Southern League Premier Division side directly only for both to be told to come back next month.

The fans are outraged and at odds with Banbury-based PR company Proteus, who are handling the strategic review, called Plan B, ahead of chairman Rafi Razzak leaving his role in May.

Martin French, chairman of the official Supporters Club said: “ The club are letting the PR company do their bit ahead of any potential investment . But surely if you have an owner or an investor keen to come into the club, you snap him up.

“In the next week, companies are going to shut down for a couple of weeks over Christmas. Then you are into January and just over 100 days away from May.

“That is not a lot of time for things to be put in place with potential investors, like due diligence for example.

“The PR company say they are going to get back to supporters in the New Year for comments on their plans. But we want to be part of that procedure. The fans are seriously concerned about the future.”

Razzak thought long and hard about leaving leaving his role after plans to relocate from the Camrose, which he said was not fit for purpose, to Old Common in the town were rejected by the council. French, however believes renovating the stadium is a much better option than moving out of the borough and ground-sharing.

“It is almost as though we are dismissing playing at the Camrose,” he said. “ We have over 30 years left there on the lease. That is a long time.

“We could do something with the ground, make it better. If a new owner comes in I am sure fans would fix the parts that need fixing. We have people with good skills.

“If we were to move, the nearest club would be Hartley Wintney. They are in line for promotion and have done some work on their ground.

“Alton, where we train, Aldershot and possibly Farnborough are other options but no-one wants to move out of Basingstoke. We would have 50-100 people going to our games.”

French added: “ We need a simple statement from Rafi before Christmas saying this is how I am going forward. ‘I am going to clear the debt, wipe the debt, put some money into spend and we will not lose the Camrose. ‘I am prepared to leave the lease to whoever comes in.’

“That would alleviate a lot fans worries and you would have more chance of finding an owner.”

In a statement, Proteus said: “Any new investors coming to the club will be looking for a new business plan with how we will manage the club finances going forward.

“All of this takes time but it is essential before we can have meaningful discussions that result in a secure future.”

 Thanks to James Boyes for the image used in this blog. Reproduced here under Creative Commons license.

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Funding partners

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  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball
  • SD Europe