Paul Wildes: Port Vale are a sleeping giant
THE man hoping to become the new owner of Port Vale is ready to invest in Micky Adams' team and embrace long-suffering fans as part of his vision for the future of the ailing club.
In a manifesto which will surely delight all those connected with the club, Paul Wildes described Vale as a "sleeping giant" with massive potential.
• GALLERY: Match Action: Port Vale 3 Oxford United 0
But in his first major interview since being revealed as the administrators' preferred bidder for the club, the Cheshire-based entrepreneur warned that his heart would not rule his head as he set about reviving the Valiants.
The 36-year-old multi-millionaire, who will be officially named preferred bidder at Vale Park this afternoon, said: "I want to turn Port Vale around and create something exciting.
"I want to make the club the heart of the community and create solid foundations on which we can build for the future.
"It's a sleeping giant, certainly at League Two level, and there is already a nice base to work on. But I can see big opportunities to do a lot more. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun."
A provisional agreement between Wildes' company, Alchemy Investment Group, and Vale's administrators for the £1.25m purchase of the club was signed last Friday, and the deal is now awaiting ratification by the Football League.
Wildes, who will also honour an existing agreement with Stoke-on-Trent City Council – the club's major creditor when it went into administration last March – said his long-term aim was for the club to pay its way as a viable business.
"Historically, football clubs are not well managed, and there has been an issue about how best to do that," he added.
"We believe the ground is an undervalued asset at the moment and we're planning to develop the commercial side.
"But every business needs to be sustainable, and we'll aim for that as quickly as we can.
"We'll make initial investments, both in the business itself and the team, and try to drive up the value of the company, and that's a recipe for success in itself.
"We will own the stadium and we'll be debt-free, but we won't be pouring money into a black hole. We'll invest wisely, make sound commercial decisions and take long-term views.
"Over time, we hope supporters will see the benefits."
After watching Vale storm to a 3-0 victory over Oxford United last night, Wildes confirmed that the future of Micky Adams was secure, and pledged to back the manager in the transfer market.
"Micky has done a terrific job with the resources he's had and the team is doing well," he said.
"We'd love to win promotion this season, but that's not integral to my plans.
"We will invest in the squad and I'll talk to him about that to see what he wants to do. I'll try to give him whatever he wants, within reason.
"It's the same as everything. We'll make an investment, but we'll need a return. And if we spend on the team, we'll need success on the field."
Wildes is also keen to create a connection with fans he regards as the heart of the club.
"I want to pledge an ongoing commitment to keep fans informed about decisions that affect their club," he explained.
"We'll be open and transparent, and we plan to hold a fans forum over the next couple of weeks. We look forward to hearing from fans and discussing our plans with them."
Once Football League backing for the deal is agreed, Wildes will become chairman, with his business partner, Norman Smurthwaite, taking a less 'hands-on' role. But he won't be appointing a chief executive, in the short-term.
Having seen one preferred bidder fail to complete a deal for the club, the Vale administrators are confident the sale will go through this time.
Bob Young, a partner at administrators Begbies-Traynor, said: "Alchemy Investment Group has completed extensive due diligence on the club. We are confident the business has all of the financial requirements in place."