The Chester Danish Consortium – Right of reply

Following this article written on Tuesday, A Different League contacted the Danish group hoping to purchase Chester City to get their response to some crucial questions. We are grateful to Christoffer Baadsgaard for his reply on behalf of the group on behalf of Palle Rasmussen. The issue was put to him as follows:-

Good evening Mr Rasmussen

The planned purchase of Chester has made headlines in the Uk as well as in your native Denmark.

As you’ll know there are a lot of Chester supporters who are most upset about the way in which the club is being purchased. They have no regard for the current owners and see no reason why they should receive a pay-off.

At the end of the day market forces say that what people wish to do with their money is up to them. However, I have written an article outlining the concerns of supporters who have been through hell in the last year. The least I can do is give you right of reply so would appreciate if I could ask a few questions:-

What specifically drew you to Chester? It seems strange to buy a club that has such issues when there are many both in Denmark and the UK that could be bought for better value for money?

How would you guarantee the involvement of local people when the sale of shares is with the understanding the owners decide the future direction of the club?

Is there any plan in place for if people stop buying or retaining their shares? What is the plan for ongoing investment if your membership gets bored and walks away?

What is the plan if you get decisions wrong? Is there a mechanism to put a team of professionals in charge if that happens?

Have you heard of Ebbsfleet United? If you have, you will know that the MyFootballClub venture was a disaster which undermined skilled professionals. If you haven’t, perhaps you should research them and think again about whether or not this is a good idea.

Thanks for your time

Less than 24 hours later, Mr Baadsgaard was kind enough to send this reply:-

Thank you for your mail.

We know that our plans might interfere with the plans of the CFU in order to start up a phoenix club, but we can assure that we will involve the local fans and community in the future plans for the club.

What drew us to Chester was the fact that we love English football, the culture and traditions associated with it. We feel that our consortium can contribute to the development towards a great future for Chester City FC and implement ideas that will renew the club in many ways. Besides that we feel that it would be a shame to let a 125 year old and proud club go bankruptcy just because the owners and the fans can’t get along.

Our consortium will work on macro level, contributing with visions for the future together with representatives of the local community but of course we also will need to hire some skilled British people for the daily management.

Our consortium consist of both small and big shareholders ranging from 120£ investments to big sleeping partners and growth foundations so if one or more shareholders will like to divest their shares it will be possible just like in every other company.

All business owners can make mistakes. However a group of 500 people with different backgrounds will not be able to make decisions without a thorough debate and because we already have some international business heavy weighters in our group, we feel confident that we will be able to run the club in a responsible way.

We are aware of Ebbsfleet United and the Internet-based way of running a football club. Our consortium will work as a traditional company with an elected Board and will not be an Internet-based business that will have to vote on anything from the starting 11, hiring of new people or which beers that should be sold at the stadium. All the daily management will be done by skilled local people.

Venlig hilsen / Best regards

It is indeed the case that the appeal of English football in Denmark and Scandinavia as a whole is strong and has been for a generation. Indeed, many Danes will have watched live English football on television long before we did. However, anyone who does their research will recognise that Chester City in its current state does not exactly represent an attractive investment to an outsider. It is also an understatement to say the current ownership and the club’s support ‘can’t get along’. Many fans of the club will state that the situation went beyond repair some time ago. There is an assurance to involve local people, but the lack of detail here is critical. CFU’s vision was for the people of Chester to run the club in the interests of the wider community. It must be the case that the shareholders’ decision is final – otherwise what are they being asked to purchase in Odense on March 6? It would of course be unfair to write off any prospective buyer on the basis ‘they might get it wrong’ but the point here is more valid than it would otherwise be. The danger of a club where the shareholders have only a tenuous or passing interest is it may alter the way in which they vote on key strategic decisions. People with a direct attachment to the club will regard its security as paramount. Popular and easy decisions are often the wrong ones.

There is at least the assurance that the day-to-day decision making will be made by professionals acting within a remit. This would suggest that whatever else, Mr Rasmussen and his team have thoroughly researched the goings-on at Ebbsfleet United and know where the sensible boundaries are. Deep down, one gets the feeling this is a group of people who genuinely believe they can make a difference and help a football club that needs it. However, they would do well to turn the question around and ask if they would be comfortable with a group of English fans doing this with a club on their doorstep. It is the considered view of this writer that while there are tangible differences with MyFootballClub that give them a semblance of credibility, they have at the very least chosen to pursue the wrong club. Of all the possible outcomes, the one that sees Chester’s fans rebuild the club as it should always have been remains the most desirable.

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