25/10/2011 : Yeovil Town Blog : How The Port Vale BSI Deal Unfolded
25 October 2011 : How The Port Vale BSI Deal Unfolded
With Yeovil Town agreeing an investment deal with American Sports Construction company Blue Sky International, Glovers fans will no doubt want to understand how the deal will work in practice. Having already gone into partnership with League Two side Port Vale, the most obvious starting point is to look at how the deal materialised for the Valiants.

There are a number of key differences between the plans for Yeovil Town and those for Port Vale. At Vale Park, the Americans have taken a 24.9% shareholding in Port Vale Football Club, as well as a seat on the board. It would not be possible for them to do this with a second club affiliated to the Football Association, due to a conflict of interest between the two clubs. Hence the deal with the Glovers has to be an 'arms length' commercial deal, much in the same way that Blackthorn might agree sponsorship with both Bristol Rovers and Yeovil Town. The other key difference is in the size of the investment. For the Glovers, the deal is worth up to 1.25 million, whereas for Vale, the deal is worth 5 million in its first year, rising to 8 million in subsequent years.

This is how the deal unfolded in the local media and on Port Vale's club site over the past couple of months:


Local paper The Sentinel reports that "Blue Sky International, a Pennsylvania-based installer of synthetic pitches, are to inject an immediate 400,000 into the club in return for a seat on the board. they will spend a further 4.6m developing training facilities at the former Chatterley Whitfield sports ground, fund completion of the Robbie Williams Suite and the Lorne Street Stand at Vale Park, and engage in unspecified commercial deals with the club.

Vale claim the deal could eventually be worth 8m, with Blue Sky pledging to invest a further 2.5m to develop "significant community outreach facilities throughout the Stoke-on-Trent area" over the next five years, and fund the club's pre-season tours over the next decade at a cost of 500,000. Blue Sky's chief executive officer, Hank Julicher, is in line to take his company's seat on the Vale board after buying the maximum 24.9 per cent stake they are permitted to own under club rules. Although Vale described Blue Sky as an "American sports construction firm" in the announcement of the deal, the company's website appears to be solely concerned with the installation of synthetic sports pitches and artificial grass landscaping.

Dave Felstead: (Port Vale Supporters Club): "The headline figure is very exciting, but we reserve judgment until we have seen the detail. I look forward to the meeting with Mike Lloyd when I expect he will be able to answer the fans' questions. The detail is what people will want to know because we have had so many false dawns in recent years."

Malcolm Hirst (North London Valiants Supporters Club): "The club's statement is very vague and leaves too many questions unanswered. Fans will quite rightly be sceptical and asking where are the details of this investment. There seems little substance to this statement, it's all headline and no story. We await further information before we can comment positively."

Perry Deakin (Port Vale Chief Executive): "Blue Sky are happy because they wanted one directorship and they believe Vale are a club they can help take forward. They also want involvement with a UK football club because they want exposure in this part of the world. It's an important territory for them in terms of developing their own business, so they are using us as their flagship project in terms of getting their name into the UK."


From Port Vale's club website:

Chief Executive Perry Deakin: "They are involved not only in the sale and installation of artificial surfaces, but also the technology itself. In terms of where they are looking to develop and the benefits to them of being involved in the football club, they are looking for a base in the UK and a brand in the UK and fortunately for us, they have looked at Port Vale and seen that they can develop their own brand alongside ours. Blue Sky are investing cash in shares as part of the deal and they will be taking their maximum allowed shares by our articles. They would like some involvement on the Board of Directors, but we cannot guarantee them that because our articles clearly state that any new board member has to be voted on by the club's shareholders. So we will be going through that process, but there will be a board member nominated by Blue Sky."

Port Vale also invited their supporters to submit questions to the club about the BSI Investment. A total of 141 questions were received.


From The Sentinel: On Saturday, the supporters' club gave Port Vale acting Chairman Mike Lloyd 141 questions submitted by fans about the proposed Blue Sky deal. Felstead, who expects answers this week, added: "The biggest question fans have had has been how much investment will be made in the team."

Steve Burdekin (North London Valiants Supporters Club): "We want this deal with Blue Sky to be fantastic, but we can't decide until we are given full details of what it entails."


From The Sentinel: Two fans' groups are demanding more answers over Port Vale's 8m investment deal with U.S. firm Blue Sky International. The number of shares Blue Sky will purchase is still unknown, while the process of wiping out the club's debt within 12 months is also unexplained.

Malcolm Hirst (North London Valiants Supporters Club): "We're pleased that Vale have tried to engage with fans. But it's a major disappointment that there continues to be very little detail about the deal, despite 141 questions being submitted. Key questions still remain, and we were hoping for a more detailed breakdown of how the 8m will be spent. It seems clear from the responses that the new era of openness and transparency does not exist. But NLV will continue to support the efforts of shareholders and fans to engage with club officials in an effort to reunite the fanbase."

Black and Gold Until It's Sold: (Supporters Group) "We feel that some of the answers require further clarification. We're pleased that the club are committed to a 12-month programme that can be monitored. We hope to see evidence of these developments in the near future."

Dave Felstead: (Port Vale Supporters Club): "The deal can only be met with cautious optimism until there's a clear statement from the club over what they expect to happen over the next 12 months. It's important we give them and Blue Sky the opportunity to complete those promises which we will be able to review. I hope that these promises are met, so we face a brighter future."


From The Sentinel: Vale chairman Mike Lloyd has declined to reveal just how many shares American company Blue Sky International are to buy in Port Vale. Lloyd was asked by The Sentinel to clarify the figure after he disputed the share investment was worth 400,000 when answering fans' questions on the deal last week. The Pennsylvania-based maker of synthetic pitches can only take a maximum stake of 24.9 per cent under club rules.


From The Sentinel: Chief Executive Perry Deakin confirmed that new U.S-based investors Blue Sky International will buy the maximum 24.9 per cent stake they are permitted to acquire under club rules as part of an 8 million cash injection. However, it is understood the cost of the shares has yet to be calculated because of the issuing of new stock.


From The Sentinel: Chairman Bill Bratt is forced to resign as Chairman and as a Director of the club, after Blue Sky International included his resignation as one of their conditions of finalising their deal with the Valiants. The article reports that Blue Sky have bought shares worth 150,000.

Bill Bratt: (outgoing Chairman/Director) "I was told at a board meeting by (director) Mike Lloyd and Perry Deakin (chief executive) that one of the conditions of the Americans investing was that I had no involvement in the running of the club. That meant stepping down as chairman and coming off the board. I was told the Americans wouldn't come in because of the fans' anti-board protests. They were wary of any criticism, but they felt that if I stepped down it would go away."

Perry Deakin: "I made it clear to Bill that Blue Sky wouldn't work with him as chairman or director it was one of their major investment conditions that he stepped down. They believed Bill's methods of working were incompatible with their own. The fans' protests were also part of it because there was so much ill-feeling."

Black and Gold Until It's Sold: (Supporters Group) "We remain sceptical over the deals, but respect the fans' wishes as a majority of them seem to be supporting the investment. But we would still like to know more of the details, such as how Blue Sky's investment will be spent."


From The Sentinel: Blue Sky International's Hank Julicher, whose U.S-based company have recently purchased 150,000 of shares; equating to 8.93 per cent of the club's total is currently waiting for the green light to join the board.


From The Sentinel: Blue Sky International's Hank Julicher is reported as attending his first Port Vale game on the previous Saturday.

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