Accrington Stanley chiefs are casting their nets for new investors to join their board of directors - but have been warned to get their house in order first.
With the resignation of Ilyas Khan as chairman and director set to be confirmed at the next board meeting - the man who pumped around £200,000 into the Reds to save the club from being wound up last November - it means Stanley will be down to just one locally-based director in managing director Dave O’Neill with the other director Peter Marsden London-based.
O’Neill claims the club has now assembled a ‘very strong management team’ and should be an attractive proposition, having cleared its six-figure debt to the taxman and narrowly missed out on the League Two play-offs last season.
But question marks remain, including a transfer embargo imposed for late accounts which leaves the Reds currently with only four registered players.
O’Neill has insisted a squad will be assembled before the season curtain-raiser in two weeks but the club’s ownership remains a grey area too with former majority shareholder Eric Whalley still officially listed as the owner with Companies House, despite O’Neill insisting that he owns 51 per cent shares in the club.
And a proposed £1.2 million Crown Ground redevelopment has fallen through, leaving the stadium under the Football League minimum capacity of 5,000.
The club has previously got dispensation to be under the required limit and, according to O’Neill, the league’s ‘lenient’ attitude over the ground is set to continue although the Football League this week said that correspondence was ongoing with the Reds and could make no comment.
Former supporters club chairman Rob Russell welcomed the move to bring in more directors, but believes it may fail to generate much-needed interest and finance.
He said: "The business community of Accrington has to see that by backing the club there are win-win opportunities. The problem is that 12 months ago we had a board of directors but they put no money in. Why would a prospective director want to come in to a company that’s got well known and publicised failings?
"We absolutely take the ‘mick’ with Football League regulations. We are still under the embargo and haven’t got the ground capacity up to scratch. A lot of that is up to not having people who can put their hand in their pocket."
Launching his bid for new directorial blood, O’Neill said: "It has been very difficult to hold board meetings with both Peter (Marsden) and Ilyas being based in London. I’m looking for approximately six well established local professionals with verified business experience and acumen, who have both a vested interest in the club and the town."
He wants people to write directly to him at the Crown Ground to express an interest.
But the public statement was met with some scepticism on Stanley message boards. One fan wrote: "As much as it is great that we are seeking new investment and ideas, I honestly believe we are not an attractive proposition to an investor.
"I think it would be a lot better if we got the accounts finalised, sort the embargo out, sort the ownership issue and then I think we may have a chance of getting interest in the club."