An investment deal which will see Accrington Stanley debt-free and cash rich has been hailed as ‘the most important in the club’s history’.
A deal with Altham business What More UK was approved by 70 per cent shareholders last night and sees around £1.2m of debt cleared and an additional cash injection of around £600,000 into the club.
The deal, which is still subject to ratification by the Football League, means What More UK owner Andy Holt will take over a debt of almost £480,000 owed by the club, while his company would pump in more than £580,000 to pay off other creditors, with further investment to follow.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Holt said: “Let’s be clear, whatever individual, company or other entity owns the club is largely irrelevant, because this isn’t a business venture.
“Has anyone ever made a profit out of Accrington Stanley? In 50 years I will be dust blowing in the wind, hopefully our input will mean the club is not.”
He added: “It’s about custodianship of the club, and I am just the latest in a long line of custodians who have kept Accrington Stanley afloat over the years. All that really matters is that the club keeps going now and into the future, and I will be doing my level best on the business side of things to make sure that happens.”
Looking ahead, Mr Holt said he did have plans for further investment, particularly around improvements to the club’s facilities, but it was too early to go into detail.
Delighted Peter Marsden, who will remain Stanley chairman, said the deal was “off the Richter Scale”.
He said: “This is the most important deal in the club’s history, it will allow the club to get rid of past debts and build.
“It will mean that if people come in for our players - and we have got a very good squad this season - we can afford to refuse offers. It will also allow us to improve the ground bit by bit.
“It is very rare in life that you know something is 100 per cent right, but this is.”
Manager John Coleman also welcomed the investment.
He said: “There are exciting times ahead, whether you are a member of staff, a player or a fan. There really couldn’t be a better time to be at Accrington Stanley.
“The club will finally see itself on an even keel, with the opportunity to progress. Although we won’t see an immediate increase in the budget, the stability that will be brought to club will improve things dramatically.”
Former chairman and long-time investor Ilyas Khan added: “Andy’s investment into the club is designed to ensure that the maximum amount of funds flows into the club and not into repaying debt. His generosity dwarfs anything that anyone else has ever done, certainly far more than I was able to do for the club, and for that I am extremely grateful.”
Gary Lyons, founder of Stanley shirt sponsor PlasticBoxShop added: “They may be one of the smallest clubs in the league, but they’ve just had the biggest cash injection in their history and with Andy Holt and his Wham team looking after the club’s business affairs, the future is bright.”