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Statement: Worcester co-owners put Morecambe FC up for sale

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus/Getty Images)

The precarious financial situation at Worcester has spilt over from the Gallagher Premiership into football’s League One in England as Morecambe FC. Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, the co-owners of the top-flight Warriors, have now stepped back from their board positions at the football club which will now be put up for sale.

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When the financial drama originally erupted at Worcester in August after HMRC issued a winding-up petition against the rugby club for unpaid taxes, a statement from Morecambe distanced itself from the Sixways cash shortage.

An August 23 statement read: “The Morecambe Football Club board of directors, including the owners, would like to reassure supporters that this has no impact on Morecambe FC. Our finances are independent, as are our budgets.

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“We do not owe Worcester Warriors any monies and the only shared position is that we have owners in common. We continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the club maintains a healthy position and will continue to do so moving forwards. We wish Worcester Warriors and all associated the very best.”

However, that perspective has now changed ten days later. With Worcester in even deeper financial trouble after the promised August 31 payroll for players and staff failed to materialise, the issues surrounding Goldring and Whittingham have now impacted the football club.

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A club statement read: “Morecambe Football Club can confirm that the clubs’ owners, Bond Group, are now preparing the club for sale, part of which involves Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring stepping back from their positions on the board of directors. “Bond Group Investments Ltd will continue their support of the board and the club as the majority shareholder until such a time as a new owner is found and can take the club forwards.”

A further statement from Bond Group on behalf of Goldring and Whittingham explained: “We are today [Friday] announcing that we will be stepping down from the board of directors at Morecambe Football Club. This is being done while we prepare the club for sale and want to ensure that the club is ready for the transition from our time as owners.

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“We have absolute trust in the current board of directors to run the club, with Bond Group still supporting the board as majority shareholder. Our attentions have been elsewhere and the board have more than proven their ability and dedication to the club.

“The board has evolved significantly during our period of ownership, particularly the appointment of Rod Taylor and Graham Howse to co-chairmen. They, along with the rest of the board of directors we have appointed, have worked better than we could have hoped for, including the valuable, dedicated and ongoing efforts of Mick Horton, Charlie Appleyard, James Wakefield and more recently Ben Sadler.

“The board functions exceptionally well, almost independently of Bond Group as the owner of the club after the Covid-19 lockdown, and they have our absolute trust. We look back with pride at what the club has become in the years of our ownership.

“It doesn’t feel like four and a half years since when we took over with one game left of the season and the club’s future in the EFL uncertain. Everyone said we were mad for buying before that decider match, but we had already bought into the club’s culture and could see the passion that everyone in Morecambe had for the club.

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“Now the club is sustainable in League One, having done a great job of staying up last season with Derek Adams back at the helm. The club is self-funding and is well-managed thanks to the great work of the staff and the exceptional support of the fans, who are the lifeblood and beating heart of any club.

“We have made some amazing memories along the way, from banging the drums with the fans away at Crawley, to getting promoted at Wembley, with everything in between, not forgetting the draw against Coventry that secured our EFL status and started this journey.

“We have also had the pleasure of the FA Cup games against Premier League clubs and seeing our young players come through the academy and develop into quality footballers and people. It is now the right time for us to move on and hand over the club to the next owner that we know can take the club to the next level.

“Bond Group will continue to own and support the board as the majority shareholder until the club is sold. We aren’t in a rush to sell and will make sure we take the time to find the right buyer with the right ambition for the future of the club.”

This development that Morecambe FC is now up for sale emerged a few hours after Worcester rugby players and staff launched a social media video campaign outlining their plight after the latest promise to pay their August 31 wages fell by the wayside.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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