CHAIRMAN Neerav Parekh says Barnsley’s board injected a further £3.2million of equity into the club last week to ‘see us through until January.’
The Reds needed to make back roughly £7-8million following relegation from the Championship, which was followed by the removal of co-chairmen Paul Conway and Chien Lee who were voted out in a boardroom coup. The owners invested £1million early in the summer then four players were sold, which is thought to have generated several million.
Parekh, the Indian businessman, was speaking to Supporters’ Trust members alongside fellow board member Julie Anne Quay, chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad and head coach Michael Duff.
Parekh said: “We are in a bad position financially. There’s no way of getting away from that. Most of this information is public. We put in a million pounds in the summer. And as of yesterday, the board just made another capital call for £3,200,000, which we will put in as equity.
“This is simply to tide us over until January. We inherited a club that needs money purely to sustain it, nevermind investing in players or the infrastructure.”
Lee and Conway are still shareholders but not on the board and have not been in contact since May. Parekh suggested that they contributed to the initial £1million investment but it was not clear if that was the case for the most recent £3.2million. He said: “To be completely fair, the first million pounds of capital raised, everyone invested. I can’t speak for everyone else, regards this capital call and whether everyone will invest.
“But for those who do invest, their stake remains the same and those who don’t, their stake is diluted.
“This is a season of stabilisation. We will see where this takes us. But regardless, we will keep going, year after year. The club is in no danger of folding.
“I can guarantee you that any decisions, good or bad, are those made only by the current board... Any money that goes into the club is to keep it running, to keep it afloat at this time given our current financial situation.”
Quay added: “We inherited a real mess. It’s hard to dig yourself out of a financial hole, but also a morale hole.”
She also said: “If you knew the depth of what has gone on, we should not be standing. But we are standing. And we are thriving.”
Parekh said the board had offered money for players this summer and would back Duff financially in the January window. He said: “We made a £300,000 bid for a striker this summer, and we knew it was money coming out of our pockets as the club doesn’t have any at this point, so when it comes to January we will support Michael and make sure we drive for promotion. That being said, there are some serious financial constraints at the club at the minute, so I’m not going to say we’ll spend crazy money but we will put the club in a position where it can challenge.
“We might not need to anyway, as the players you see continue to keep developing and keep winning.”
Barnsley tried to bring in another striker on deadline day but missed out.
El-Ahmad said: “We have strikers. As long as players are under contract at Barnsley, we support, internally and externally, the ones we have. Because if I was a player and all I hear is ‘new, new, new’, then it wouldn’t exactly breed confidence. We did look at adding offensive players and some firepower, and we bid for players, tried to buy players, but ultimately they went to higher leagues, abroad, or for more money elsewhere. Factors out of our control.”
Parekh added: “Something we found in the data was we weren’t actually creating chances for the strikers that we had. We brought in players that could add that offensive threat from midfield, and you see it now in Devante Cole, so this was an area we addressed, and it wasn’t just about signing strikers.”
On the legal case between the Cryne family and Paul Conway’s group, Parekh said: “All that I can say is to watch this space. Hopefully, there’ll be positive things on the horizon.”
El-Ahmad has been speaking to Barnsley Council who own half of Oakwell with the Crynes.
He said: “Things are positive, we’ve met with the council several times and we have an ongoing discussion about a potential extension to the lease here at Oakwell, so we are excited.”
Quay criticised fans who chanted at a female Bristol Rovers staff member in August. She said: “I wanted to bring that up because as a woman on the board, to hear fans singing ‘show us your ******’, that is so demeaning. It’s just awful.”
In August, Barnsley announced cryptocurrency HEX as their sponsor but cancelled the deal soon after when homophobic tweets emerged sent by HEX’s representatives. El-Ahmad said: “We have a specific department that led on that, and Hex came to us through a third party, an intermediary. We did our due diligence, that we felt was good enough but obviously in retrospect it wasn’t as detailed as it should have been. But with an intermediary in between, who’ve worked with sponsors in the past, there was a certain assumption of trust.
“We wanted to be innovative, we wondered if we should look at something interesting, like crypto. We were open to something that was essentially different. We went ahead with it and quite quickly, **** hit the fan. We never knew of those individual people...Our fans’ engagement regards this issue was very good, and, in my opinion, a strength of co-operation between club and fans where – together – we put Barnsley FC above financial gains.”
Parekh added: “Khaled and the media team, everyone involved, don’t get enough credit for, as soon as we realised the mistake had been made, literally working 24 hours to get it rectified and worked with PR and legal teams to figure out how we could get out of it. And I think within three or four days we had got out of that deal, apologised for it and made amends. Mistakes will be made. But it’s how you react to it and I think Khaled and his team did a really good job in rectifying the mistake.”
Quay added: “It was a really bad mistake. And it was quickly apparent on that first home game across social media. I think the fans really helped on this too. Because you really called it out.
“When this was set out to our commercial team, it was a company called HEX, but when you start drilling into it, you realise it’s not. It’s just a coin, or a code even. They 100 per cent misrepresented themselves and, with our crisis management and legal advice, we were able to get out of the deal pretty quickly.”
Last season was El-Ahmad’s first at the club and saw them relegated with one of their lowest ever points tallies. Asked to sum up last season, he said: “It was ****, is the simple answer. And I don’t think anyone could judge it any differently. Obviously, during the season I was criticised for saying that we’d stay in the league, whenever I was asked that question. But what would you expect from a CEO at the club? As long as there was a mathematical possibility, I was going to be supportive of that. We’ve done a thorough review of all departments, we’ve tried to review everything, from the injuries, the GPS data, tactical assessments, we went through the recruitment decisions, player contracts – all of this to try and make sure that the next big decision, like the manager for instance, it was the right one.
“The main ingredient was the need to build a winning culture. And I think that leads onto the appointment of Michael Duff. I think there was around 30 to 40 candidates and quite quickly we knew who we wanted. And that’s also why it perhaps took a little time.”