Stoke-on-Trent City Council will not give Port Vale any more cash
PORT Vale supporters have been warned the stricken club will receive no further subsidy from taxpayers – even if they are faced with liquidation.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council's leader Mohammed Pervez has ruled out any further public funding for the club as efforts to sell the club continue.
Administrators are currently in talks with three potential buyers after the original preferred bidder Keith Ryder failed to come up with the funds to complete his takeover.
And Mr Pervez issued a further warning to other interested parties that they must meet the terms of Keith Ryder's bid to retain the support of the city council, which is Port Vale's biggest creditor.
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He said: "If any new bid is substantially different it will be a very hard sell.
"We would be very reluctant to accept any further loss."
The city council has spent £440,000 on a bailout to keep the club afloat after it went into administration in March.
It is owed £1.86 million from a 2006 loan deal, bringing the authority's total liability to £2.3 million.
If a takeover is completed on the terms agreed with Keith Ryder, the council will be refunded in full its bailout cash and receive an estimated £300,000 as part of the sale.
It will mean a total net loss of about £1.5 million to taxpayers.
Mr Pervez said: "Everybody seems to agree that the council has done the best it could to protect the club and it is extremely disappointing that Keith Ryder has failed to come up with the money.
"I don't think fans can expect the city council to do any more than we have.
"The city would be all the poorer without a second football club and from my point of view I would be deeply saddened to lose Vale.
"But there is a limit to what taxpayers can be expected to fund. If no viable bidder comes forward then I'm afraid the only option I can see is liquidation.
"It would mean Port Vale is not a sustainable entity going forward."
Administrators Begbies Traynor have pledged to continue running the club, potentially until the end of the 2012/13 season, without asking for any extra council money.
If Keith Ryder completes the deal, or any replacement deal adheres to the same terms, the takeover will not need further council approval.
But any changes will need renewed support from elected members.
The authority steered Vale into administration to prevent it being wound up over an unpaid tax bill.
It would have meant the end of the football club, and recovery of the money the council is owed from the original loan would have depended on a fire sale of assets with proceeds split between competing creditors.
But the city council's financial support for the club has proved contentious in some quarters against the backdrop of major budget cuts hitting staff and services.
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition party City Independents, said his group will strongly oppose any further public funding for the club.
He added: "Our group is unanimous and we have made ourselves very clear. As far as we are concerned there is no more money."
Port Vale supporters' club chairman Pete Williams said: "We've got a lot to thank the city council for and we realise it isn't a bottomless pit. They have other services to run.
"As supporters we won't let liquidation happen. We've got to see what the other bidders bring forward, take each week as it comes and support administrators and the club as much as we can.
"It's a situation nobody wanted and it's unfortunate that Keith Ryder has taken the stance of non-communication.
"He should either inform the administrators that he intends to proceed and set a firm date, or take himself out of the running and accept that he has lost the money that he has put in."