Goodwill gesture to Port Vale fans who lost cash
MORE than 100 Port Vale fans who lost out when the club went into administration earlier this year are to have their investments honoured.
The supporters each paid £25 to purchase bricks engraved with their names or the names of loved ones for the Vale's 'wall of fame' in the Lorne Street stand.
Then the club went bust and fans were told their money had been used, but heard nothing about the bricks.
Now Port Vale's new joint owner Norman Smurthwaite, who is working as the club's chief executive, has brokered a deal with the local firm who dealt with the original order.
Eighty five of the outstanding 106 bricks were delivered to Vale Park yesterday and the remaining 21 have been sent off to be engraved.
Mr Smurthwaite, who last night met supporters at a fans' forum, said: "We are discovering lots of problems and anomalies where fans haven't been treated in the way that we would like them to be.
"This is a goodwill gesture and part of the process of creating a club where its supporters feel valued and get decent service."
Gary Hatton, of Simmons Builders' Merchants, in Stoke, said: "We were surprised when Norman contacted us so quickly after taking over at the club.
"We've lost out as a company, but the bricks are no good to us and so we are making a donation to the club.
"We've a few Vale fans working here and so we are happy to help and look forward to better times for the club."
When the bricks were purchased, Vale fans were warned there may be a delay as it was only feasible for them to be done in bulk. But that initial delay was dramatically lengthened as cash was swallowed up as part of the administration.
Now fans have applauded the club and Simmons for finally getting the scheme off the ground.
Pete Williams, chairman of the Port Vale Supporters' Club, said: "The gesture is brilliant and let's hope that they continue to look at the supporters in the same light.
"There is a real feel-good factor at the club at the moment. I would urge those fans who have perhaps not been attending to come and back the team and show the new owners that they have bought the right football club."
Vale secretary Bill Lodey added: "Norman Smurthwaite has taken on board what has happened and it's admirable that it is being sorted out.
"This has been a hard place to work for the last two years, but all the staff and supporters have kept going."