NOTTS CO CHAIRMAN ON HANCOCK
John Armstrong-Holmes interview
By Dane Vincent Thursday, 26th June 2008
The first part of NCM's interview with the chairman of Notts County...
Below is the first part of NCM's lengthy interview with John Armstrong-Holmes. In this section, Notts County's chairman speaks about what happened with Colin Hancock, Adam Pearson, what it would take for the club to hand over its shares, and the club's current financial position...
NCM: Colin Hancock looks set to take over at Mansfield Town. Why did this never happen with Notts County?
JAH: What happened was that Hancock rang up Radio Nottingham and spoke to Colin Slater in January and what he actually said then was that he was interested in investing a seven-figure sum. I was really angry that such a thing went on air, I'll be honest with you about that, because it's not the correct way to go about business.
I rang Hancock up the next day, because I had his number, and likewise he had mine, because I've known Colin Hancock for a number of years, due to his involvement loosely with the football club. He couldn't talk to me because he was arranging a funeral and said he'd be in contact with me within a couple of weeks.
The next contact I had was from his solicitor, who wrote me a letter, and in that letter he made reference to the fact he represented Colin Hancock and that he would be free after January 30 to meet with me and the board of directors.
I wrote back saying we'd like confirmation of what Colin Hancock was proposing for this football club and we need to see proof of funds related to those proposals. This went on for about a month, throughout the whole of February - letters backwards and forwards between me and Colin Hancock's solicitor.
I offered to take up a board meeting proposal on March 7 this year which was there and said that I would be happy to meet with him beforehand. Nothing was forthcoming on that.
I then got a letter on March 3 from his solicitor which said (reads from letter): 'My client wishes to make it clear at the outset that he has never made a public declaration of his interest in the media.'
Now, the fact that he went on Radio Nottingham in January and talked about investing a seven-figure sum in Notts County Football Club. Then I get a letter from his solicitor denying that he ever made such a declaration of interest in the media - what are we actually dealing with?
What else can I say? I get a letter from his lawyer denying that he ever made such an offer, then he tried to turn it round and say: 'If I had a million pounds'. He didn't say 'if I had a million pounds' [on the radio], he led the Nottingham public to believe and Colin Slater to believe that he was prepared to invest a seven-figure sum. It could have been one million, two million, three million, whatever...
The quite proper course to make a proposal to any business, no matter what it is, is you don't discuss it with the public - you make a proposition to the board of directors. The board of directors consider that proposition. If the directors consider that advantageous to the company, they have a fiduciary duty to present that to all shareholders.
NCM: So the club actively pursued Hancock?
JAH: Of course we did! This correspondence went on for two months, you know, we offered to meet him - nothing, asked them to give us dates - nothing. All we got back were letters from his solicitor, to which we replied. He never ever came forward with any dates.
Never at any time has there been any real confirmation of any financial investment in Notts County Football Club, nor what he was proposing. Now he was leading supporters to believe that the club was on its knees, that it was broke, it was going out of business. Where's that coming from?
Once you start putting these things into the public domain, then people naturally, because they don't know all the circumstances, they're going to be very concerned about it. I can understand that. Me, if I wasn't sitting where I sit now, and I heard that, I'd be saying 'what the hell is going on?' I've got no problems with that, but the problem is that there are people out there that have an agenda. They are very anti-Trust.
It's damaging to this football club. That broadcast that went out in January was very damaging to this football club and it probably cost us hundreds of supporters coming to the games.
The Trust are fans, the Trust aren't morons. Members of this board are business people. Some members of this board I would rather have sitting beside me as the board of directors of the football club than half the people involved in football.
If you're a director of the club, you have a duty to every single shareholder of the company. Never at any time was there a proposal, or anything. All that took place after he went public with this was that his lawyer dealt with everything.
We offered to meet with him, but nothing was ever forthcoming and ultimately I got from him saying he was going to focus his activities elsewhere.
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