Deakin and Miller became Port Vale directors without putting a penny into club
THE two men now running Port Vale Football Club both became directors without putting a single penny into the club.
Chief executive Perry Deakin and chairman Peter Miller were both elected to the club's board by shareholders who had been told they had already purchased £350,000 worth of shares.
Many shareholders had assumed Mr Deakin and Mr Miller had paid for their shares at the time.
But Mr Deakin admitted yesterday they had been issued with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of shares that had not been paid for at the time they sought election to the board.
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When confronted with the evidence yesterday, he claimed, however, that both he and Mr Miller had invested the £100,000 and £250,000 respectively into the club within the last seven days. The Sentinel has been unable to verify this.
Mr Deakin also confirmed to The Sentinel that he had written a letter, shown to him by The Sentinel and dated September 5, offering Mr Miller the position of chairman – a previously unpaid figurehead role at cash-strapped Port Vale – with an attached salary of £100,000 and the following perks:
Business class return flights to the UK (a maximum of eight per year);
Accommodation while in the UK;
Provision of a vehicle while in the UK;
'Reasonable' business and sustenance expenses.
Mr Deakin confirmed these were the contents of a letter he wrote and sent to Mr Miller in the U.S. containing his personal terms and conditions.
He told The Sentinel yesterday: "Our chairman is working for the football club in a paid role, which is not the first time or the last time a chairman has been paid by a football club. Peter is worth his remuneration."
With regard to the share issue, Mr Deakin said: "£500,000 worth of shares were issued at nil value for myself, Peter and Blue Sky. I'd signed a promissory note to put the money in. I have now paid my £100,000 within the last seven days. Peter has also now put his £250,000 in, but there is an issue with Blue Sky which we've already highlighted. It's our money. I'm not holding shares for anyone else."
Mr Miller then claimed the documentation given to Companies House, the UK's register of businesses, by Port Vale on November 24, a copy of which was purchased by The Sentinel yesterday, was incorrect and would be retracted and replaced by another form.
Yesterday's revelations came at a meeting between the chairman and chief executive and the committee of the Port Vale Supporters' Club, which Mr Deakin and Mr Miller walked out of.
The news of the issuing of so-called 'nil paid' shares and the revelation that the chairman is receiving a salary sparked fury at last night's public meeting of the supporters' club at Smallthorne Victory Working Men's Club, amid rumours the £8 million Blue Sky International investment is also in doubt.
Supporters' club chairman Peter Williams said: "I think Mr Miller and Mr Deakin should be removed from the board. In my opinion, they were elected under false pretences.
"The supporters' club canvassed fans about Mr Miller's candidacy to the board at a game because we hold the proxy for Robbie Williams's shares and wanted to gauge their opinion. We took with us a letter signed by Mike Lloyd (the then acting chairman) which stated, for example, Mr Miller had purchased his £250,000 of shares.
"We all assumed this meant Mr Miller had paid money to the club for these shares at the time, but now we find out that this wasn't the case.
"We're supposed to have moved into a period of openness and the supporters' club has played its part in that. But, as far as the supporters' club is concerned, that openness has not been reciprocated by Mr Miller or Mr Deakin."
On September 28, Mr Deakin told The Sentinel he had purchased £100,000 worth of shares in the club.
Two days later, the club's website stated Mr Miller had purchased £250,000 worth of shares, with a further £150,000 of shares being bought by Blue Sky International, bringing the total share issue to 100,000 which had a face value of £500,000.
Both men were then elected as directors via a postal ballot of Vale’s 900-plus shareholders before the board appointed Mr Miller as chairman.
Then, on November 15, the club admitted the money from Blue Sky had not been received due to “contractual issues”.
Chartered accountant Sam Corcoran, of Sandbach-based Achilles Accountancy, said: “Such agreements can be used where there is a key employee who you want to make a shareholder of the company and the employee can’t afford to (or doesn’t want to) pay for the shares now.
“The impact on other shareholders is that they now own a smaller percentage of the company. Therefore, their shares may have been devalued.”
Professor Wyn Grant, from Warwick University, an expert in the business of football, said: “Payments to chairman are not completely unknown – although generally the salary and benefits are relatively small.
“The amount received would not be a huge amount; broadly in line with what a non-executive director at a company might expect.”
Tim Hollinger is the majority member of Ameriturf Global Systems (AGS), which sponsored Port Vale’s pre-season tour to the U.S. and is now taking legal action against the club for breach of an investment contract prior to Blue Sky’s involvement.
He said: “Mr Miller was and is a member of Ameriturf Global Sports and received monetary compensation for his work/involvement.
“Mr Miller was intricately involved in the formation and business of Ameriturf Global Sports – in particular the Port Vale deal.
“Ameriturf Global Sports had told Mr Miller he would no longer receive compensation until such time as the fields [at Chatterley Whitfield] were built and paid for. As a member he was not entitled to a pay cheque and ownership at the same time.
“Immediately after being told this, Mr Miller brought Blue Sky into the investment, because he thought he would make a better deal with them, and my understanding is he received a cash payment from them.
“Neither myself, Ameriturf Global Sports nor its attorney Bill Thompson has received any response from anyone at Port Vale or on Port Vale's behalf regarding settlement and our plans to commence litigation.”
Director Glenn Oliver, former director Peter Jackson and former chairman Bill Bratt all refused to comment.
Former director Stan Meigh and vice-chairman Mr Lloyd were last night unavailable for comment.