UPDATED: Consortium pull out of Newport County

CHANGE OF HEART: Former County board  member and investment consortium leader Matt Southall

CHANGE OF HEART: Former County board member and investment consortium leader Matt Southall

First published in Latest Football South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by

THE consortium hoping to provide a cash injection at Newport County led by Acorn managing director Matt Southall have pulled out of talks with the board with both parties blaming each other.

The Argus exclusively reported that Southall, along with a group of local businessmen, were hopeful of providing a significant cash injection to help the Exiles in their bid to become a Football League club.

The talks slowed to a halt during the transition that saw Chris Blight stand down as chairman – replaced by lottery millionaire Les Scadding – but had resumed privately over recent weeks.

The consortium were planning to each guarantee a certain amount of money over three seasons and were to work in conjunction with a ‘Friends of Newport County’ scheme that would see a larger group of local businessmen also contributing funds on an annual basis.

While no exact figures have been disclosed, sources from the consortium estimate the figure they would have been willing to contribute over three years at £750,000, a claim not disputed by the County board.

The impasse between the two groups is over three key issues:

* A different view on how the club should be run and the structure of the boardroom;

* County’s directors’ belief that Southall has failed to provide written documentation of his plans;

* The consortium’s belief that the County board aren’t being completely transparent in showing their accounts.

The Argus spoke yesterday with the key figures on both sides, including Southall and County’s longest standing director Howard Greenhaf.

Southall released a statement to the Argus on Thursday night. It read:

"Clearly I'm extremely disappointed that what has been accepted by many to be a terrific opportunity for the Club to secure much-needed funding and an improved over all management structure, cannot be agreed upon.

"Together with a group of successful and well-respected local business people, what we had proposed would bring fundamental change to how the
club would run, by creating a much improved and more sustainable management structure in order to prepare the Club for life in League Two.

"This was not accepted. The irony is this will be a pre-requisite for the club when it achieves promotion, and we are therefore deflated by the attitude and sometimes negativity shown by the existing Board in this regard.

"I have been helping to fund and run the Club for some 14 years now, and have seen first hand how hard our volunteers work, including me, but also how painful and difficult it has been to maintain a professional, consistent and sustainable operation. "This is not to question those involved, far from it, it's merely the harsh reality of trying to run things in this way. In League Two if we continued in this fashion we would not survive.

"Myself and a number of other investors, including a significant fans' group, were looking to help the Club maximise the opportunity that the inspired move to Rodney Parade has given us. And obviously it has come as a surprise that the Board has been so dismissive, not just of the financial but also the professional support the group would provide.


"The opportunity we would bring would also see many fans and local small businesses being engaged closer with the Club.


"The change of structure has clearly proved to be a sticking point. I fully understand that it is wholesale change in the way the club operates today, and change is sometimes difficult to accept.  My fear is that historically when the various pressures have come to rest on the shoulders of a small group of individuals, something breaks. We have learnt this through experience and our model creates an opportunity for this burden to be hopefully be shared.


"The delays have not helped as I first approached the club with the full outline of the proposal on July 1st. "For many reasons we are still waiting for full financial visibility on Sept 12th.


"The final straw for me personally was the fact that the credibility of the Investor Group was questioned, Personal guarantee's demanded and a general feeling that this type of change was simply not palletable to the club.
"Also, personally my integrity questioned on more than one occasion, and it made us realise we needed to withdraw.


"I wish the current Board all the success possible this season, but would simply ask them to prepare wisely for next season if we are fortunate enough to be promoted."

Rob Santwris also issued a statement on behalf of Friends of Newport County.

The statement reads: “I am frustrated and annoyed, not only because Friends of Newport County was a great new platform for the club, but also in the treatment of Matt and others in the group through the process.

“In my eyes, without doubt they deserved more respect for what they were trying to bring to the club which was quite ambitious but also definitely badly needed.

“Although he will not say, Matt has worked very hard on our behalf and was not the instigator of this approach. We needed him to pull it together and were therefore embarrassed when his integrity was questioned.

“A lot of people at the helm of Newport County football club need to take a long hard look at themselves tonight and ask the question, did you act in the best interests of our great football club?”

Greenhaf was notified by email on Wednesday that Southall was withdrawing his interest but feels the club have done all they can to make a deal.

He explained: “We asked, and always have done, for a formal, written proposal that hasn’t been forthcoming.

“They came back and requested information from our end and all the accounts have been disclosed.

“They then requested more information and, on our accountant’s advice, we asked anyone who would have access to agree to sign a non-disclosure contract.

“Matt Southall agreed to that but the others would also all have needed to sign it.

“We don’t think the information we’ve given them would prohibit Matt from making a written proposal. We just want to know who the investors are, what are their plans, and have spent an awful lot of time discussing it without key questions being answered.”

The news is certain to disappoint the County faithful but Greenhaf is hopeful talks can be resurrected.

“We want this, we want it to happen, no-one should question that or believe otherwise, it’s in all of our best interests,” he said.

“Let me make it abundantly clear that from our perspective, we don’t want this to be the end of it, we certainly don’t want to close the door. But at this time, they don’t want to proceed.”

ARGUS COMMENT: Sour note for County

HOW disappointing that a group of local businessmen have decided against providing a substantial cash injection for Newport County .

It would appear there is a difference of opinion between the football club’s board of directors and the potential benefactors over how the club should be run.

It is a sour note in what has so far been a hugely positive season for County following their move to Rodney Parade.

We have no doubt that both groups have the good of the club at heart and both have the same basic aim – to make Newport County a success story on and off the field.

What a shame it is, then, that the respective parties cannot find some common ground in terms of their business philosophies.

The people involved have differing strengths that, we are sure, would provide County with a hugely effective team at the top.

Perhaps some kind of independent mediator could help to resurrect what could be a game-changing deal for Gwent’s premier football club. County have a good manager, a promising team and a fantastic ground. If some of Newport’s best business brains were also working together in the boardroom then the sky would be the limit for the club.

We can only hope that today’s disagreements can be overcome for the good of the football club and its supporters.

Comments (11)

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1:36pm Fri 14 Sep 12

Adrian Williams says...

Get it together for the sake of the club chaps, please - this would see us in good stead for years to come
Get it together for the sake of the club chaps, please - this would see us in good stead for years to come Adrian Williams
  • Score: 0

1:49pm Fri 14 Sep 12

Ranger12 says...

The sensible comment above is the one suggesting an independent mediator. The investors cannot progress without full disclosure but neither can the club release confidential information to unknown parties.

Let's hope that can get back together!
The sensible comment above is the one suggesting an independent mediator. The investors cannot progress without full disclosure but neither can the club release confidential information to unknown parties. Let's hope that can get back together! Ranger12
  • Score: 0

2:35pm Fri 14 Sep 12

NakedDancer says...

I cant understand what any of these well meaning guys on the current board or the consortium have to gain from a stand-off. The current board must protect the club and a confidentiality agreement and confirmation of the investors is the norm in any business arrangement (remember Jerry Sherman ?). I cant see why the consortium would have a problem with that. Come on guys - stop playing schoolboy games and get it sorted.
I cant understand what any of these well meaning guys on the current board or the consortium have to gain from a stand-off. The current board must protect the club and a confidentiality agreement and confirmation of the investors is the norm in any business arrangement (remember Jerry Sherman ?). I cant see why the consortium would have a problem with that. Come on guys - stop playing schoolboy games and get it sorted. NakedDancer
  • Score: 0

3:50pm Fri 14 Sep 12

ncfcr says...

NakedDancer wrote:
I cant understand what any of these well meaning guys on the current board or the consortium have to gain from a stand-off. The current board must protect the club and a confidentiality agreement and confirmation of the investors is the norm in any business arrangement (remember Jerry Sherman ?). I cant see why the consortium would have a problem with that. Come on guys - stop playing schoolboy games and get it sorted.
Sorry mate, but we're not talking about unknown Canadian conmen here, are we?

We're talking about successful businessmen from Newport who want to take our club forward. I forget the names of all involved, but I do recall seeing them and knowing for a fact that at least two of them are ardent fans.

I suppose now the truth is coming out, pressure from the fans will do the rest. I hope this isn't the end of the story.
[quote][p][bold]NakedDancer[/bold] wrote: I cant understand what any of these well meaning guys on the current board or the consortium have to gain from a stand-off. The current board must protect the club and a confidentiality agreement and confirmation of the investors is the norm in any business arrangement (remember Jerry Sherman ?). I cant see why the consortium would have a problem with that. Come on guys - stop playing schoolboy games and get it sorted.[/p][/quote]Sorry mate, but we're not talking about unknown Canadian conmen here, are we? We're talking about successful businessmen from Newport who want to take our club forward. I forget the names of all involved, but I do recall seeing them and knowing for a fact that at least two of them are ardent fans. I suppose now the truth is coming out, pressure from the fans will do the rest. I hope this isn't the end of the story. ncfcr
  • Score: 0

4:07pm Fri 14 Sep 12

LSB Bee says...

I agree, I really hope this is not the end of the story and some common ground can be found so that this can go ahead. It would be be a massive step toawards the dream of a return to the Football League.
I agree, I really hope this is not the end of the story and some common ground can be found so that this can go ahead. It would be be a massive step toawards the dream of a return to the Football League. LSB Bee
  • Score: 0

6:21pm Fri 14 Sep 12

lowandhardandinthecorner says...

Some heads need to be banged together here - a mediator is a good idea, perhaps someone with legal/business expriece.
Some heads need to be banged together here - a mediator is a good idea, perhaps someone with legal/business expriece. lowandhardandinthecorner
  • Score: 0

10:44pm Fri 14 Sep 12

chris warman says...

there are many fans of the club that dont go simply because they can not afford the ticket prices. even if people go in on a concession it works out to be to expensive for some. surly lowering the cost would mean more people would attend and a bigger profit in the long run.
there are many fans of the club that dont go simply because they can not afford the ticket prices. even if people go in on a concession it works out to be to expensive for some. surly lowering the cost would mean more people would attend and a bigger profit in the long run. chris warman
  • Score: 0

9:37am Sat 15 Sep 12

ncfcr says...

chris warman wrote:
there are many fans of the club that dont go simply because they can not afford the ticket prices. even if people go in on a concession it works out to be to expensive for some. surly lowering the cost would mean more people would attend and a bigger profit in the long run.
Uuuummmmmm, fair enough.

Have you just quantum leaped to this page?
[quote][p][bold]chris warman[/bold] wrote: there are many fans of the club that dont go simply because they can not afford the ticket prices. even if people go in on a concession it works out to be to expensive for some. surly lowering the cost would mean more people would attend and a bigger profit in the long run.[/p][/quote]Uuuummmmmm, fair enough. Have you just quantum leaped to this page? ncfcr
  • Score: 0

10:22am Sat 15 Sep 12

welshmen says...

All i would say is if i won many millions on the Lottery and i am not being sarcastic here, the County would have a good future, i would dedicate it to my Dad who played for Newport County, i would secure 10% of the winnings to a proven strategy for success...
All i would say is if i won many millions on the Lottery and i am not being sarcastic here, the County would have a good future, i would dedicate it to my Dad who played for Newport County, i would secure 10% of the winnings to a proven strategy for success... welshmen
  • Score: 0

3:12pm Mon 17 Sep 12

NakedDancer says...

ncfcr wrote:
NakedDancer wrote: I cant understand what any of these well meaning guys on the current board or the consortium have to gain from a stand-off. The current board must protect the club and a confidentiality agreement and confirmation of the investors is the norm in any business arrangement (remember Jerry Sherman ?). I cant see why the consortium would have a problem with that. Come on guys - stop playing schoolboy games and get it sorted.
Sorry mate, but we're not talking about unknown Canadian conmen here, are we? We're talking about successful businessmen from Newport who want to take our club forward. I forget the names of all involved, but I do recall seeing them and knowing for a fact that at least two of them are ardent fans. I suppose now the truth is coming out, pressure from the fans will do the rest. I hope this isn't the end of the story.
Indeed, I know some of the consortium personally and know they have the best interests of the club in mind. My point was just that in a business transaction the current board are obligated to ensure proper process is followed and that would include confirming the names and objectives of investors and a non disclosure agreement. Matt says he hasnt a problem with that and I dont see why anyone else would so lets get it done guys.

There is a great book by Ian Ridley called "Floodlit Dreams - How to Save a Football Club" which is based on Weymouth FC but could be about most lower league clubs (and the County get a few mentions). An excellent insight into the challenges and pitfalls at this level.
[quote][p][bold]ncfcr[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]NakedDancer[/bold] wrote: I cant understand what any of these well meaning guys on the current board or the consortium have to gain from a stand-off. The current board must protect the club and a confidentiality agreement and confirmation of the investors is the norm in any business arrangement (remember Jerry Sherman ?). I cant see why the consortium would have a problem with that. Come on guys - stop playing schoolboy games and get it sorted.[/p][/quote]Sorry mate, but we're not talking about unknown Canadian conmen here, are we? We're talking about successful businessmen from Newport who want to take our club forward. I forget the names of all involved, but I do recall seeing them and knowing for a fact that at least two of them are ardent fans. I suppose now the truth is coming out, pressure from the fans will do the rest. I hope this isn't the end of the story.[/p][/quote]Indeed, I know some of the consortium personally and know they have the best interests of the club in mind. My point was just that in a business transaction the current board are obligated to ensure proper process is followed and that would include confirming the names and objectives of investors and a non disclosure agreement. Matt says he hasnt a problem with that and I dont see why anyone else would so lets get it done guys. There is a great book by Ian Ridley called "Floodlit Dreams - How to Save a Football Club" which is based on Weymouth FC but could be about most lower league clubs (and the County get a few mentions). An excellent insight into the challenges and pitfalls at this level. NakedDancer
  • Score: 0

7:32pm Mon 17 Sep 12

llandaff says...

I now live in the west country and I am an ex pat. I have supported county most of my life and still do. I can remember the "shed end", promotion, Carl Zeiss, relegation,loss of league status and the closure of Someron Park. I still travel across the bridge to most home games come rain or shine. One thing is certain I have never lost sight of my dream of the club re-gaining league status. That is the goal and nothing and no-one must stand in the way of that. So far this season our fabulous new team have worked miracles on the field. So I say to all parties involved in off the field negotiations STOP SQUABBLING AND HELP GET THIS CLUB BACK TO WHERE IT BELONGS! IN THE LEAGUE!
I now live in the west country and I am an ex pat. I have supported county most of my life and still do. I can remember the "shed end", promotion, Carl Zeiss, relegation,loss of league status and the closure of Someron Park. I still travel across the bridge to most home games come rain or shine. One thing is certain I have never lost sight of my dream of the club re-gaining league status. That is the goal and nothing and no-one must stand in the way of that. So far this season our fabulous new team have worked miracles on the field. So I say to all parties involved in off the field negotiations STOP SQUABBLING AND HELP GET THIS CLUB BACK TO WHERE IT BELONGS! IN THE LEAGUE! llandaff
  • Score: 0

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