Last year, a couple of days after Salford City Reds got its franchise, the company building its new 22,000 seat stadium went bust. At the time, administrator, Paul Stanley explained "The investors were faced with a situation where a private investor was unable to fulfil his obligations under a funding agreement which led to a cash hole.
"The other investors" he added "were not prepared to give an open cheque book without the matter being resolved."
The investor unable to fulfil his obligations was believed to be businessman Stephen Kirby, who had a 16% stake and the amount he owed was believed to be less than £1million. The other investors who "were not prepared to give an open cheque book" included Salford City Reds, owned by Chairman, John Wilkinson. So the company went bust and was bought by Peel Holdings for £3million.
Meanwhile, according to Crain's, Salford Reds' Willows Ground and Variety Club, owned by the Wilkinson Corporation, was sold to property developer Godliman-Watson Homes Ltd for a cool £2.35million a few months before the Redcity collapse (Goldiman's founder, Iain Watson, is also on the club's board). The deal was financed by loans from the bank, Lindley Trustees and, er, John and Elaine Wilkinson.
So let's get this straight. John Wilkinson - or Mr Salford, as he's known by himself - can loan money for a company to buy the ground and variety centre in which the Wilkinson Corporation got, according to its accounts, a £679,963 `exceptional profit'. But when it came to finding some dosh to bale out the treasured new stadium Mr Wilkinson wasn't prepared to stick his hand in his pocket? Is that right? Sounds right…
Now, stadium finances have been boosted, not by the Wilkinson Corporation, but by the public sector, as always, with the proposed addition of Salford City College to the site.
Fans might well be wondering, firstly, how committed John `Mr Salford' Wilkinson is to the financial cause of his `beloved Reds' and secondly, whether the stadium will be built on time…or ever at all. See these comments on the official Salford City Reds website...
Matt, March 10th 2009 "Can we please have an update as to the progress of OUR new stadium."
Craig, March 28th "Please can you give us some response about our new stadium – it's like we're being ignored which actually we are…look at the last time someone asked for info"
Andrew March 31st "The silence over the new stadium is deafening ! Surely the club must be in a position to say something. The prospects of moving there for 2010 would now seem impossible. Can we at least be told what is going on?"
Craig again on April 3rd "Ok I give up…I won't post anymore about the stadium, as you're not going to give out any of the classified information on the top secret stadium that "may" be built at barton… ignoring your fans does make them go away permanently"
See them here… http://reds.originalreddevils.com/2009/01/08/city-college-to-be-stadium-catalys/
See previous Mary Burns Reds story here http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=21