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Cashing In
Cashing In

BCH directors start to cash in on value of City's ground asset

As revealed in yesterdays Evening Press, current and former directors of York City Football Club have started to profit from the value of the Clubs Bootham Crescent ground. Company documents reveal Messrs Craig, Quickfall, Swallow and Webb have disposed of 10% of Bootham Crescent Holdings plc to Persimmon.

Supporters Trust representative Richard Willis maintained:
Supporters consider that it is not right that those once entrusted with the ownership of the Club should profit at the expense of the community by selling the Clubs home of seventy years.

BCH is the company that now owns the freehold of Bootham Crescent and rents the ground to the football club. Bootham Crescent has been the home of York City since 1932. The supporters have invested in the site financially and emotionally for 70 years. The increase in value of the assets is largely due to the good fortune of location in a city with booming property prices. It was not due to the management of the Club over the past ten years yet it is they who seek to profit at the expense of our club and the community.

Under the chairmanship of Douglas Craig, the ownership of Bootham Crescent was transferred from the Club to a new holding company (i.e. BCH) in 1999. This restructuring provided the basis for the directors of BCH to carry out their plans to profit from the land ownership at the expense of the Club, its supporters and the community.
The latest Annual Return for BCH filed at Companies House reveals that in April 2002 each of Messrs Craig, Quickfall, Swallow and Webb transferred ownership of a number of their shares to their respective spouse. A few days later, shares were sold to Persimmon Homes Limited.

The identity of the parties disposing of the shares to Persimmon Homes Limited were as follows:
No. of shares
Douglas Craig 12,664
Elizabeth Lawrie Craig 454
John Quickfall 1,840
Angela Patricia Mary 454
Barry Swallow 1,840
Elizabeth Ann Swallow 454
Colin Webb 1,840
Jessie Morgan Webb 454
Total 20,000

If it is assumed that the amount per share paid by Persimmon was equivalent to that demanded in the original document issued by BCH in January 2002 (i.e. a total price of 4.5 million to acquire 100% of BCH), then Messrs Craig, Quickfall, Swallow and Webb have reaped approximately 450,000 between them. That could be around 300,000 to former Club Chairman Craig and 50,000 to each of Quickfall, Swallow and Webb. It is reported that Craig dismissed this assumption as totally wrong, although he would not reveal the actual amounts.

[Update in 2003 - the total amount payable for the 20,000 shares may actually have been around 350,000]

At this current time, Swallow and Webb remain as directors of York City Football Club. It is understood that Craig continues to attend matches at Bootham Crescent taking a seat in the area commonly referred to as the Directors Box.

Richard Willis commented:
The Supporters Trust has encouraged all parties involved in relation to the ground situation to be open and transparent to help avoid any misunderstanding or suspicion of inappropriate motives.

Essentially, the supporters want a guarantee from BCH and Persimmon that the Club will not be ousted from Bootham Crescent unless there is a superior stadium already in place.

According to the Annual Return, Persimmon Homes Limited is now a 10% shareholder in Bootham Crescent Holdings plc. Between them, Craig, Quickfall, Swallow and Webb hold approximately 83%. The balance of shares is held by approximately 170 other shareholders.

It has been reported that Persimmon have a conditional contract with BCH to buy Bootham Crescent subject to planning permission and vacant possession. Within the last couple of months, Persimmon has made a planning application that would lead to the ousting of the Club from its historic home. Last month, Persimmon refused to answer questions posed by the Supporters Trust regarding their planning application. A number of supporters have noted that the planning application contains several statements that appear unclear and/or misleading. Some people have already indicated to the Supporters Trust that they intend to submit comments to the City Planning Office on the matter.

Whilst it is understood that the Club continues to work towards developing a new superior stadium to Bootham Crescent in terms of location, capacity and facilities to date, no confirmed site or funding has been announced.

The proceeds from the value of Bootham Crescent that go into the pockets of a few individuals is at the expense of the Club, its supporters and the community. If York City Football Club is to have a new superior stadium, those proceeds would go a long way towards enabling the development to be funded.

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