Bond Group Investments Limited completed their successful acquisition of Lancashire outfit Morecambe in 2018, however since then things have turned incredibly sour. Furthermore, the Shrimps board of directors have released a statement this evening discussing their ultimatum regarding the current ownership.
Over the past five years, Morecambe have enjoyed success on the pitch such as earning promotion to League One whilst being tipped as relegation favourites, and then being able to survive the drop the following campaign, despite the odds being stacked against them.
However, off the field, the club has been quietly slipping into financial turmoil, with consecutive late payments to staff becoming an unwanted regular theme, resulting in ‘suspended ‘point deductions’.
In truth, many considered the 103-year-old club to be punching well above their weight when they achieved third division status. Prior to the takeover in 2018, Morecambe survived relegation from League Two and out of the EFL entirely by the skin of their teeth, with a plus four goal difference being the key component in their retention of fourth-tier football.
The 2018/19 season offered a little more comfort, where the Shrimps ultimately finished 18th, although boasting a healthy 13 point-gap above the drop. Then the infamous 2019/20 season would follow, where a miserable season was cut prematurely due to the arising Coronavirus pandemic, ensuring their safety for yet another year.
Clearly, this was the turning point in their fortunes as the rest is history. After an impressive campaign, Derek Adams guided his troops to play-off success over Newport County at Wembley, sending supporters into jubilation.
Circling back to current proceedings then, following 18 fixtures into their current League Two campaign, new-man Gerard Brannans’ team sit 12th in the table whilst being four points outside the play-offs with two games in hand.
Therefore, you may mistake their current fortunes due to the position of the club, but in the background, things are far from positive.
In a statement released by the club, they stated;
“Firstly, the Board assures staff, players, supporters, and everyone associated with Morecambe Football Club that it is doing everything within its powers to enable the Club to continue to meet all its ongoing obligations.”
“The Board wishes to make clear to supporters that no funds can be taken out of Morecambe Football Club by Bond Group without the Board’s approval. No such withdrawals will be authorised by the Board, and therefore all fans can be certain that their hard-earned money spent at the Football Club will be used in the best interests of the Club.”
“The Board of Directors is placing on record that it has no confidence in Bond Group’s management of the process of selling the Club. This process has now run for 15 months, but in that time no potential new owners have gone through the EFL’s Owners & Directors Test, a number of apparently credible buyers have stepped away the process following initial conversations with Bond Group.”
In an effort to communicate clearly and be transparent with supporters, they added;
“The largely voluntary Board of Directors, most of whom are staunch fans of the Club, is making this statement because a significant change of approach is required by Bond Group. Without it, nothing at Morecambe Football Club can move forwards and the Directors risk finding themselves in an untenable position, which puts the Club and the wonderful community that it sits at the heart of at serious risk.”
Despite in the past, being able to come in and steady the ship whilst enabling recent success, it’s evident to see that things on the North-West Coast are heading south under the current owner.
Visibly frustrated by the lack of resolve and outright negligence, the board clearly feel that they need to make a impactful statement to portray where they stand and feel on the situation. Time and time again we see football clubs being tarnished by their leaders, and serious questions need to be asked on what the FA and EFL are going to do to combat this ever-growing problem.