ILYAS Khan has hailed a new era at Accrington Stanley after he saved the club from extinction – and took over at the helm.
The Accrington-born millionaire paid around £160,000 of the outstanding £308,000 tax debt to stop the club being wound up for the second time in its history on Wednesday.
He has become the new non-executive chairman, former Stanley director Peter Marsden is the new president while Dave O'Neill, the owner and chairman at the start of the week, is the managing director.
These are the new board at the club with all the current directors resigning as part of the new-look Reds while co-chairperson Marcelle Lazarus resigned at the weekend. Rob Heys remains the chief executive.
There is still some debate about who actually owns the club, with former chairman Eric Whalley, who O'Neill said had sold him the club in July, still listed as owner at Customs House with 51 per cent shares although O’Neill has been in touch with Whalley and expects the transferrence of all the shares to go through to him this week.
But merchant banker Khan, who was a 12 per cent shareholder in Stanley before he donated his shares to the Accrington Stanley Fans Fund last month, says that is to sort out in the next couple of months with saving the League Two outfit the immediate priority.
"I am just relieved the tax situation is now over," said Khan, who came to an agreement with O’Neill about paying off the debt and the new changes at the Crown Ground only on Tuesday afternoon this week. If an agreement hadn’t been reached and the debt paid off by Wednesday morning, the High Court judge would have wound the club up.
"Dave and I haven’t always seen eye to eye but to his credit we came to an agreement which is in the best interests of the club," continued Khan, who did try to pay off the debt two months ago in return for openness and a new share issue, which O’Neill didn’t want.
"Peter Marsden has played a big part in all the negotiations, he has been the go-between and I am happy with how things have gone. There have been differences with me and Dave but that is now behind us. Peter will now interface with Dave who will continue the day-to-day running of the club.
"What I want from the club now is everything out in the open. I want there to be no more secrets about money – all three of us Peter, Dave and I will have access to the information.
"I think in the history of the club in recent times, there has always been just one person who knew everything and now I want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We want transparency and to take the club into the 21st century and for it to be run professionally.
"I obviously can’t be at the club day-to-day and so I have got a non-executive role," said Khan who is based in London. "But financially, the buck now stops with me."
He admits it might not be straightforward as there are still debts outstanding at the club – believed to be another £140,000 owed to the tax man which has built up since the £308,000 bill; around £50,000 to different creditors, £60,000 to St Mirren for the seats, £100,000 for other things and then there is the matter of £150,000 which it’s alleged is owed to Whalley for his shares by O’Neill.
"We do need to clarify the ownership situation and perhaps have a re-issue of shares but this is for the future," added the new chairman.
Despite losing his position as chairman and overall control, O’Neill is happy with the new-look board at the Reds. The fans had called for him to resign but he has retained a place at the Crown Ground.
"I never wanted to be chairman but it just happened - and now I am pleased that the future of Accrington Stanley Football Club is assured. That’s the important thing.
"I am pleased this board has come together as I could never have worked with the fans board which was at first proposed by Ilyas.
"The past few months have been challenging, but now hopefully the club can move forward ".
Meanwhile, Khan, in the new era, is urging the town to come and support the club tomorrow as they take on Salisbury at the Crown Ground in the first round of the FA Cup.
He will be there with Peter Marsden and Khan said: "We believe that the town, the community and the supporters should now link arms with the team and the management to forge a stronger and vibrant partnership that will be a credit to this football club.
"Accrington Stanley Football Club looks forward to inviting all supporters and family members to the club tomorrow where John Coleman and his team will continue to build on their wonderful efforts this season."