ACCRINGTON Stanley owner Dave O’Neill insists that he has nothing to hide as the Reds battle for their future.
This week the owner and directors pledged to put their hands in their own pockets and raise around £100,000 for the cash-strapped club who have to pay a tax bill of £308,000 by the end of October or face being would up.
O’Neill has been involved in a war of words with millionaire Ilyas Khan, who owns 17 per cent shares in the club.
Khan wants "transparency" at Stanley with all accounts out in the open as he believes there are more debtors than the tax man.
The Accrington-born businessman met with director Peter Marsden in London this week to talk about the issues involving the club. Marsden was tight lipped about the negotiations.
But O’Neill said: "We have nothing to hide up here but Ilyas seems to think we are hiding things.
"I’m not interested in selling the place or making any profit out of Stanley. What is his main issue?"
The club has admitted they have been fined for not sending their accounts to Companies House on time and also not registering the change of ownership from Eric Whalley to O’Neill, which happened in July.
There have been some rumours that Whalley - now Director of Football at Chester City - still owns the club.
O’Neill said: "All the accounts are done. That was the final piece of the jigsaw but the accounts have now been submitted.
"Eric cannot be a director at Chester as he cannot be involved with two clubs. I am the chairman and the owner of Accrington Staney."
Owner O’Neill said he, chief executive Rob Heys and Marsden aim to raise at least £100,000 from their own money in the next week.
Khan had reiterated his pledge to match any money the directors put in.
With the Save Our Stanley fund almost at the £100,000 mark – and the club also got a £45,000 injection from two separate loan deals in June as well as having money from the Football League and sponsors Coca Cola – the club hope the £308,000 unpaid tax bill should be repaid before the end of October deadline, although fund-raising efforts are ongoing to save the club.
Heys said: "Two or three of us are going to put some money into the club. We don’t know an exact figure but it should be around £100,000 to £120,000 and we will let people know the exact amount in the next week.
"We haven’t done it sooner as, although it has been talked about, people just don’t have that kind of cash lying around and the money has only just been freed up by the banks now.
"If we put the money in and then there are a few more things lined up like a friendly with Blackburn Rovers and a friendly with an American side then we won’t be a million miles away."
Khan, the major backer behind the Accrington Stanley Supporters’ Fund (ASSF), this week offered to chip in £2 for every £1 paid personally by O’Neill in another move likely to heap pressure on the Stanley chairman.
"Ilyas has no obligation to match the offer. It’s fantastic if he does but he doesn’t have to," said Heys.
"Ilyas has fallen out with me over some matters but there is nothing sinister about anyone’s motive in the club – everyone just wants the best for Accrington Stanley. No one’s got a hidden agenda and we need everyone to pull together."
There has been a war of words between O’Neill and shareholder Khan since the owner had a go at the businessman in his programme notes for Friday’s home game with Crewe.
The comments provoked a rebuttal from the Supporters’ Fund and fury on Reds message boards from fans.
In the statement ASSF chairman Peter Shaw had claimed: "Accrington Stanley is facing a forest fire of debt, and its directors are using water pistols to try and put it out, and are not even prepared to use their own water."
And Khan said: "Whatever Dave has said the main focus is saving the club – the most important thing is that Accrington Stanley survives and the tax bill is paid off."
O’Neill says he doesn’t regret his programme notes ahead of Friday’s Crewe match.
He said: "I stand by the programme notes completely. The only thing is I might have to apologise to Ilyas for including his name along with ASSF.
"If my conversation with the chairman of that group hasn’t reached Ilyas that’s why Ilyas is not happy with my comments saying that he had the opportunity to save the club and they weren’t moving their stance at all.
"As I said in my notes I don’t want to get into a schoolground argument over who said this and I said that and it all gets blown out of proportion."
* Dave O’Neill’s controversial programme notes:
"I seem to refer to the ASSF every time I write my notes and today is no difference as once again the fund is homing in on the media hype that surrounds us.
"I will not enter a verbal crossfire in the local or national press with this group and I hope it will become obvious at some point to our fans why negotiation has not been taken to another level.
"It is often said that talk is cheap and sometimes to say nothing is a sign of inner strength of being totally focused, all I will say is ASSF and Mr Khan, you had your chance to prove to our fans that the club is bigger than anyone when we were in court on 2 September. Had you stepped up to the mark, I would have handed you control of the club. You did nothing and would have let the club be wound up. That was the easy way out for you as everyone would blame me. Well I think it is time to either come on board and help the club that so many people are doing (unconditionally) or stay away from our limelight and let the true fans and the community of Hyndburn save the club they love."
* Accrington Stanley Supporters’ Fund response:
"We were informed by the club on Friday 28 August that Accrington Stanley were to appear in the High Court the following Wednesday, 2 September. HMRC were petitioning for Accrington Stanley to be wound up as none of the outstanding tax bill had been paid since the alleged agreement made back in May 09. On Saturday, 29 August, we met with the club’s chairman and the chief executive and again reiterated the offer from the Supporters’ Fund, with conditions as before. At no time did Mr O’Neill indicate he would be prepared to relinquish his control of the club.
"Despite it being a Bank Holiday weekend, by 4pm on Tuesday 1 September, the Supporters’ Fund’s offer was reinforced by a letter, through our solicitor, which was presented to the High Court. The Supporters’ Fund have demonstrated that we are genuine in our offer to help save Accrington Stanley from extinction.
"The result was an eight-week stay of execution by which time HMRC has to be paid £308k."