A crowd of 329 people turned out at Treyew Road yesterday afternoon to see Truro City beat Boreham Wood by two goals to nil in the Blue Square Bet South, but it seems unlikely that events on the pitch made for too much of the discussion amongst the clubs supporters. As has seemed to frequently been the case over the last year or so, goings-on in the boardroom have been hogging the headlines at this particular club, with Fridays announcement that it is to enter into administration throwing the future of Cornwalls most successful non-league club into doubt. Yet this decision is not particularly surprising. Much of the news coming out of Truro City FC has been building towards this situation, but it was, of course, completely avoidable.
The clubs announcement on the subject came on Friday afternoon, ahead of the hearing of a winding up order brought by HMRC which was to be heard on Monday over an outstanding tax debt of £15,000. The only assumption that can be drawn from this timing is that the club had no way of paying the amount of money outstanding and that to seek to defer the hearing would have merely been postponing the inevitable. The club had previously confirmed that it had secured funding to pay its players wages until the fifteenth of September, but new chairman Chris Webb has already stated that, “Our clear understanding at present is that arrangements which were agreed earlier for funding to cover the players’ wages through to at least September 15 no longer hold good”, which could be interpreted as it becoming likely that – again – the club’s players (who had threatened to walk out before a ball had been kicked this season over the non-payment of their wages) will have to go without pay. How long they will tolerate that is a question that is not easy to answer.
Over the last few weeks or so, this club has increasingly to become less and less about the football. During the summer, the clubs ground was sold to a company called Jojo Investco – about whom the truth couldn’t possibly be more oblique – and there have been those have spotted a potential link between the name of this company and those of Julia Sincock and Jessica Heaney. Sincock, who is understood to have been involved in a relationship with Kevin Heaney, has been in the news before. In 2010, she was cleared of deception after false information was completed on a mortgage application for a mortgage which stated that she earned £85,000 a year while her actual salary at the time was £15,000 a year. More recently, she was named as a director of PAFC 2011 Ltd, one of the companies formed in preparation for what turned out to be Kevin Heaneys aborted take-over of Plymouth Argyle during the summer of last year. With confusion over who exactly is running the club, who owns which company and who is involved in which company, it is small wonder that most connected with the club remain absolutely bewildered with regard to what is going on there at the moment.
Kevin Heaney, meanwhile, remains bankrupt – although his details do not as yet appear on the Insolvency Services register of insolvency. Heaney, who may be owed as much as £1.4m by the club, however, remains bankrupt and any money owed to him would now be owed to his creditors, through the insolvency practitioner dealing with his estate. Considering the tangled webs that he and those close to him have been weaving over the last few months and years, it would be unsurprising to find out that he still held the whip hand in all of this, but the matter of whether he or anybody associated with him should be allowed within ten miles of a football ground of any description or in any capacity is one for the Football Association to deal with, should they see fit to. In addition to this, the involvement of the Salisbury City chairman William Harrison-Allan, who skirted close to a clear conflict of interest in allowing his company to get involved in the companys financial affairs, should also be closely inspected by the Football Association. In fact, it rather feels as if the game as a whole would benefit if, once whatever comes to play out plays out, the FA was to hold a full investigation into what has been going on at Treyew Road in recent years. Valuable lessons could be learned.
The immediate future of the club has to be considered to be in very great danger, though. Football Conference rules on clubs entering into administration are considerably tougher than in other leagues. Truro City will have to sign a CVA which pays all creditors in full in three years or be demoted at the end of this season. There will be no penny in the pound offers if the club wishes to avoid demotion at the end of the season and, as such, it is quite possible that we have already seen our first relegation of the new season. Even if there does end up being light at the end of the tunnel in this respect, the question of how the club can possibly trade through to an even keel is a difficult one to answer positively. Last Saturdays crowd of 329 is in no way enough to keep the club going for any period of time if the clubs other revenue streams – sponsorship money, season ticket revenues and so on – have already been exhausted. We can only speculate on what may or may not happen over the next few weeks, but there is little positive to see in the prognosis for Truro City Football Club at the moment.
And this is something that should cause considerable consternation to the Football Conference. If demotion at the end of this season already looks more likely than not for this football club, then what exactly is the incentive for anybody to attempt to rescue it? Part of the problem for Truro City throughout its rise through the divisions has been the distance that people now have to travel to get to Cornwall in the first place. There will now surely be those involved at other Blue Square Bet South clubs who will be wondering whether, rather than having effectively a ghost club, which will surely be unable to satisfy all of its creditors in full over the course of three years, playing for no more than pride? On the basis of what we know – and it should be pointed out that it feels likely that we know precious little about what has actually been going on behind the scenes at this club over the last couple of years or so – the question of how this club can be saved is beyond our reach. Chris Webb finished his official statement on Friday by saying, “Obviously, this is an extremely difficult time for the club, but I can assure everyone concerned – players, supporters and staff – that I and my colleagues are working tirelessly to ensure that every possible effort is being made towards securing the survival and long-term success of the club.” How that survival can possibly be secured in either the short of long term is anybodys guess this evening.