HELPING SAVE YOUR HOME-TOWN FOOTBALL TEAM….
….WHO SAYS THAT ACCOUNTANCY WORK IS BORING?
Having been born and bred in Swansea, I’d gone off to university in Manchester and then trained as an accountant in London before moving back to South Wales, in 1984, when my firm opened a small office in Cardiff.
The only partner, Tudor Davies, was an insolvency practitioner as most of the work was in business recoveries, rather than the audit section where I worked.
When the Swans were wound up, in late 1985, he was appointed to advise Doug Sharpe about the Scheme of Arrangement (a court approved agreement between a company and its shareholders and creditors) that went to the High Court in London in 1986.
The proposed Scheme of Arrangement had to prove that, if the creditors waived their debts, the Swans would be able to continue trading, with the finances that were being put in place, for at least 18 months.
Knowing that I was the only “Jack” in an office of “Bluebirds” (or should I say “Red Dragons” now!), Tudor asked if I would be interested in working on this project with him. I jumped at the chance.
My role was two-fold:
- Understand the club’s finances and prepare a cash flow for 18 months. It was almost like a modern-day “fantasy football”. I had to decide how far the Swans would get in each competition, what the attendances would be and how much we would pay the manager, players and back room staff.
Unfortunately we had to scrap the Football Combination team as it was costing the club money to participate in that league.
- Calculate the cost of termination payments should the Scheme of Arrangement be rejected in the High Court and the Swans have to fold.
This second task was most interesting. I travelled down to the Vetch Field to review all the players’ contracts. Having asked at reception, I was told that they were in a safe in the manager’s office and so I had to go and see Tommy Hutchinson, who was now caretaker manager after John Bond had departed. Tommy was very reluctant to give this youngster the players’ contracts from his safe. Eventually, I convinced him that it was a job that had to be done and I got the contracts with the firm commitment that they would be back in his office before he left at 5pm. At about 4pm, I had come to a useful break point in that exercise and so decided to give the contracts back to Tommy. I found his office locked and dark. When I asked at reception, they told me that training had finished earlier than usual and Tommy had gone for the evening. For reasons that I cannot remember, the girls on reception were not comfortable with looking after the players’ contracts and so I took them back to my house in Cardiff overnight!!
As the deadline for the Scheme of Arrangement got closer, I remember attending a meeting at Doug Sharpe’s house in Sketty Park on a Sunday morning. We had to finalise the document and so, in case any changes were required, I had to bring my computer to the meeting. This was before portable laptops and therefore involved carting the CPU, monitor, keyboard, mouse and assorted cables down to Swansea and setting it up, to Doug’s amazement, in his front room.
As we now know, the Scheme of Arrangement was approved on July 27th 1986 and the Swans were saved. I like to think that I played an important role in that and I definitely got a unique exposure of what was going on behind the scenes.
(25 June 2012)