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 The Poll

Daggers change of ownership: should we...

Stay as we are (Members Club)
Go with the East Consortium
Go with the Tamplin Consortium
Look for another solution


View Current Standings


DAGGERS DICTIONARY

"Kimble"
The uncanny ability to appear to run faster than you actually are able to.

 

 

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07 May 2017
Forest Green Rovers
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Vanarama National League Play-off semi final, second leg
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     On This Day

No fixtures played on 25/5

 

 


The Chairman speaks

Dave Bennett Interview
by Hardy on 26/08/2016

Daggers Chairman Dave Bennett speaks to DiggerDagger.

Interview with Dave Bennett

In Chairman Dave Bennett's programme notes for the Lincoln City game he stated that the leaflet given out by a group of supporters prior to the Southport game contained "gross factual inaccuracies" and that it was "shameful" that someone should seek to de-stablise the club in such a way.

Given the basic facts in the leaflet were very much those being reported by DiggerDagger here, we contacted Dave to find out what the inaccuracies were. To his credit he offered us a face to face interview which took place on Wednesday.

Dave Bennett is someone that not a lot of the fans know in the way his predecessor, Dave Andrews, was (and is) a part of the club furniture.

He explained how he got involved in the Daggers. "I ran Compass Plumbing & Heating which was no more than a couple of hundred yards away from the ground, and we received a flier from the Daggers stating that they were looking for sponsorship. As a Crystal Palace season ticket holder at the time I binned it first off, then thought about it a bit more and contacted the club."

Invited to a game, he was royally looked after by Dave Andrews and Steve Thompson, enjoyed the experience and the day and ended up taking on the role as main shirt sponsor. "The rest is history and here I am. This thing kind of takes over your life."

Dave is obviously a nice guy and we had an open exchange during the interview. Like everyone else we have spoken to in this process, he has doing what is right for the Daggers as his main concern. We just hope that the outcome of this process is one that works for the best interests of Dagenham & Redbridge FC.

Those inaccuracies

We started by addressing the reason we had contacted Dave in the first place.

He made clear the main issue that he has with the leaflet handed out before the Southport game was the statement "the club has had its authorised overdraft facility withdrawn, leaving it with severe cash flow problems and a big tax bill due soon."

Dave told me, "This simply is not true. The club haven't actually had an overdraft facility for a while as it has been operating in the black, certainly since the Dwight Gayle deal, but Steve Thompson identified that we were heading into a point in his financial projections where we might need one so we approached the bank. In the new financial climate NatWest, who we have always banked with, told us that they did not offer overdraft facilities to organisations such as ours. So there we were."

"This kicked off discussions at board level regarding what we could do to raise money. The club has always worked off sponsors, donations, directors loans. I suggested that if all the board members put in a figure to fill the hole. Some agreed, some didn't. This is part of the problem, we have a diverse group of directors, some of whom are very active, some of whom are not, and some which have resources to invest and some not. To be honest the club needs a shake up."

Dave confirmed that, "The short term hole was filled by a directors loan, which is far from unusual and has been done several times in the past and was repaid within a couple of weeks."

Dave stated that his annoyance with the leaflet was a result of this statement setting the tone for everything that followed in it. "It's making us look like we are in the shit, that the bank don't trust us and have taken an overdraft away. This is just not true. Everything that follows in the leaflet is tainted by this."

The next issue with the leaflet was regarding Glenn Tamplin's renaming of an existing shell company to become Dagenham & Redbridge FC (2016) Ltd.

Dave told me "At the very first serious conversations we had with Glenn Tamplin and his solicitor once it became clear that he wanted to invest and come on board, the solicitor told Glenn that if the deal proceeded he would have to have a new company set up to do enable this. This was early June. Glenn had this company dormant, which is not unusual in business, and made the name change the next day. OK he didn't waste any time doing it, but he had been advised to do so."

"This name change was either leaked by an interested party, or else someone just happened to be looking in the right place by co-incidence, and that kicked off the furore around it," said Dave. "Someone seems to have been looking for this, and may have known what they would find and was stirring things up by leaking it."

Dave was insistent that the original figures discussed of 1.25m over five years for 80% of the club had originally come from John East.

Dave explained the process once the outside offer came forward. "Once the Tamplin offer emerged, David Ward was in agreement in putting this forward one day, then the next was part of the other consortium. He is sitting on the fence, he just wants to remain in the boardroom. The Goodwins I don't know very well but I obviously know of Lee's status within the club as a player. No fan was more pleased than I was when he got a few minutes of League football."

"The truth is that the offer from them is just not enough. If it had been more, closer to a million perhaps, they would probably be running the club now, but it simply is not enough," Dave told us.

Regarding the online abuse that had caused Glenn Tamplin to duck out of the meeting scheduled for the 6th July, we asked for what this was. Dave pointed out that some of the comments on the Daggers Forum had been very close to the mark, and that there was a lot of name calling going on." We pointed out that "tampon" was in fact a telephone autocorrect of "Tamplin" which made Dave smile.

DiggerDagger pointed out that there was a Glenn Tamplin twitter account but it was dormant, and that no Facebook page could be found. All comms seems to come through the AGP Steel twitter account. So what was the abuse?

It seems actually that Tamplin may have got cold feet. "Glenn could see that the fans were against him, and was being asked by his business associates why he was investing 1.25m when the alternative was a fraction of that for the same piece of the company and pulled out," said Dave.

So who is Glenn Tamplin?

We asked why Mr Tamplin was looking to invest in a football club at all as they are almost always a money pit?

Dave replied, "He loves football. He's very in to junior football, his son plays. He's reached the point in his business life where he has time to give to something like football and wants to get involved."

We pressed why the Daggers had been billed as Tamplin's "boyhood club" in the original club statement when it subsequently emerged that he had previously approached Brentwood Town and Bishops Stortford?

"Well there might have been some spin in that," Dave admitted. "I don't think anyone is claiming he stood on the terraces week in week out as a kid, but he is certainly a local lad and knows the Daggers well and played non-league football."

And the other clubs he was interested in? "I think he was talking to Brentwood Town because his son playing there at youth level but never went very far. He was quite close to agreeing a deal with Bishops Stortford, but that was getting quite difficult towards the sharp end of the deal. When he realised that buying in to the Daggers was an option he told us where he was at with Stortford and that he would have to make a choice."

"We were very clear that the club did not own the ground, and that an investor would have to win over the Members to ensure that the company structure could be changed. He asked us how likely that was to succeed and we said if the offer was right he had a decent chance. Based on this he chose pursuing the Daggers over Bishops Stortford."

We asked about Mr Tamplin's chequered business history, which is a matter of public record. Dave told us that due diligence had been pursued and a statement of his net worth produced by a Chartered Accountant. "He is obviously a very rich man, I have seen his house and I am happy that we have done enough to make sure that he is good for the investment he is talking about putting in."

"I know from experience that the building business is a tough one and sometimes you get a knock and can't avoid issues," Dave told us. "If one of the businesses you supply knocks you back, sometimes you catch a cold and have to take a knock too. We were happy with his explanations of the insolvencies and there has been no cover up."

We raised the spectre of Karl Williams, AKA Uncle Urchin, and the obvious parallels with Coldseal/Bryco/Carthium and Glenn Tamplin's business history. "They are not the same situation. Glenn does not have a trail of disappointed customers following behind him."

What if Tamplin takes over?

Dave said to us, "Everyone that has met him has been impressed with him. His intention is to come in and observe how things work for a while and then work out what needs changing and what doesn't. I know he has a lot of ideas, and will actively seek to make the profile of the club better, and to be honest that is really needed. He recognises that he is likely to have to put more money in down the line and is happy to do so."

We asked whether Glenn Tamplin would be involved in the club on a day to day basis? "He says he will set aside at least a day a week for both him and his wife to be involved in actively running the club."

That AGP Steel Email

We asked about the email from Dan Groves to the world dated 18th August announcing that "We have just purchased Dagenham and Redbridge Football club."

Dave admitted that this had been a freebie for the opponents of the Tamplin bid to knock out of the park. "This was clearly stupid, but what we have said was exactly what happened. It was a guy that works for Glenn who went outside his remit and Glenn was in Spain at the time. He hasn't been fired, but has been severely reprimanded."

Dave agreed it was embarrassing though. "But it happened," he said. "Dan Groves was at the meeting on Monday as Glenn had suggested he apologised for the embarrassment caused, but in the end we decided it wasn't a good idea as half of the audience probably wouldn't have known what he was apologising for."

What happened at the Members Meeting?

Dave told us, "Glenn was doing very well at the meeting, in my opinion it was clearly going his way, and towards the end of the meeting it was him that made the offer of including other parties in the investment process, opening it up for the members of the other consortium to get involved."

Dave did put up some percentages and figures off the record, but did point out, "If someone ends up holding 5% of the club and the club needs further investment down the line, they will be expected to make their share of that investment. As far as I am aware the other group have only ever committed to a one off investment. Also bear in mind that 20% of the club remains with the Members and they won't be asked to invest."

Dave told us, "The end outcome of the meeting is that all interested parties will get together to try to thrash out something that works, and once we have done this we will proceed with the EGM."

On PR to date and engaging the fans

On Club Membership Dave agreed with us that it made sense, once the current process was complete, to try and expand the number of Full Members. "I have suggested in the past that this would be a good thing, to get some new blood involved in the club, and potentially raise some income. I am one of the younger ones on the Board which is a bit scary to be honest. Accepting new members right now before the vote isn't an option though."

DiggerDagger pointed out that we are in the "If it isn't broke, don't fix it" camp. On one hand we have people stating we are in massive trouble, then we have Steve Thompson stating that there are no significant financial issues. It is this dilemma and the lack of communication that is causing most of the current infighting.

Dave stated that the club are not is trouble in the short term, but can see that we could be. "The club carries no significant debt. It has a small debt to the council for the away stand, and it has a facility with the brewery which is standard for pretty much any bar or club. Unlike other clubs where investors have come in and had to start by bailing out massive debts before starting to move the club forward, we don't have that issue."

Dave is aware that Steve Thompson has got a bad press from recent events and for some time from different parties. "Steve has taken a lot of flak for things he has and hasn't said in the past. As MD of a company he cannot come out and declare it is in a major fnancial mess or any creditors would be all over us, and we aren't in that place at the moment anyway. It was Steve that pointed out the potential issues down the line. He is a massive part of the reason that this club has achieved what it has. He works tirelessly for the club, often doing 14 hour days, and a lot of the personal criticism he gets is unwarranted."

DiggerDagger pressed him on the lack of comment or PR from the club pointing out that other parties were engaging supporters and filling the vacuum left as a result. "When we do comment we have been accused of lying," He told us. "As a result we avoid commenting."

We agreed that this was not a good tactic and left the board massively on the back foot most of the time.

Dave said "One of the issues we have is that we are a Members club. This means we have to advise the Members of significant events first and to be honest we have issued more letters in the past three or four months than for years. Several of these letters have recently been published on the forum pretty much immediately so fans do actually know what is happening, just maybe with a different spin on it."

And why has no one heard from Mr Tamplin? "He has a young family and properties abroad. He has pretty much been away all summer and not available to put his side," Dave told us. "On Monday he wanted to go out and address the crowd outside but we didn't think that was a good idea. I do know he did speak to some of them but have no idea what was said."

And a fans forum before the deal is signed? "I know Glenn would be willing to speak to fans at a forum. It would have to be on the understanding that it was done in the right way though, not a baying mob attacking him. I repeat that everyone that has spoken to him to date likes him and believes he has the club's interests at heart," Dave told me.

DiggerDagger pointed out that this is surely the point here. If the board want to change the way the club is structured and make it just another limited company and sell a majority stake to an "outsider", it, and the investor, need to carry the people that care about the Daggers with it, and to date both have been on the back foot the whole way.

Dave agreed with this and we trust that communications will improve from this point.


 

 

 

 

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