Port Vale: Vale miss £20,000 repayment on £2.25m council loan
PORT Vale have been urged to come clean on the club's finances after failing to make the latest monthly repayment on their £2.25m loan with Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
The authority say they may be forced to take legal advice after Vale missed the January 31 deadline to pay last month's loan payment of £19,616.
The December instalment for the same amount was only paid on January 30, almost a month late.
Sarah Hill, the council's cabinet member for finance, has urged the Vale board to show how they intend to improve the club's finances.
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She said: "Port Vale are very keen to get their finances together and pay us what they owe.
"From what they have said to us, we hope that over the next couple of weeks they will have a much clearer idea of what direction the club is going in and where their future lies.
"In that time we would expect the club to give us a very clear idea of how they plan to move forward, manage their finances and how they're going to become more secure.
"We would also want to know how the club are going to pay off what they owe us.
"The board are hopeful of reaching a resolution, but if we don't get that over the next couple of weeks then it is my view that a more serious review of the loan agreement is needed.
"If that happens we would have to take legal advice to discuss what our options are and the consequences of those options."
Vale have already breached the terms of the 2006 loan agreement on two occasions.
The first came when the club's former chairman, Peter Miller, took out a £277,000 mortgage against Vale Park last month.
The second occurred when Vale failed to submit last season's audited accounts to the council by a set deadline of December 27.
Hill, right, said Vale would be given time to overcome any financial difficulties ... for now at least.
"If I was a Port Vale fan then I would be worried about this," she added, "and from the council's point of view we want our money back and to be paid regularly.
"This is a serious matter because we're talking about taxpayers' money, but we want to give the club the time and space they need to give themselves a business base from which to move forward.
"The last thing we want to do is push them over the edge.
"We haven't discussed recalling the loan and the club have not discussed renegotiating the loan agreement – and we wouldn't want to do that."
"If we called in the loan we would be unlikely to get the money back anyway.
"We haven't set the club a deadline to pay back January's repayment, but that could be one of our options. It depends what happens."
Just under £1.8m of the loan is still outstanding. Vale had not missed a repayment deadline until December.
The unpaid £19,616 January installment includes an interest payment of £8,898.
Vale failed to respond to Sentinel requests to explain why the repayment had not been made, but acting chairman Mike Lloyd told BBC Radio Stoke last night: "The (December) payment was late going in, but has now been cleared. The one for January is slightly overdue and as cash flow becomes available we shall pay that off as well."
Lloyd claimed fans' protests and the extra policing costs of dealing with them had sapped the club's revenue.
He added: "Myself and the rest of the board have been working hard to bring in investment, but we've had examples of supporters asking sponsors to withdraw their money."
"So some of the moves to try to oust the board puts the whole club in jeopardy. If that continues, of course there are going to be cash flow problems.
"The council appreciate our difficulties."