BREAKING NEWS: Town chief ousted after losing big vote

Hucknall Town owner Steve Greaves
Hucknall Town owner Steve Greaves

HUCKNALL Town Football Club are again looking for a new benefactor — after chairman Steve Greaves quit amid a storm of controversy.

Bus baron Greaves (56) left the club yesterday (Sunday) after losing a vote of no-confidence less than four months into his regime.

The vote was held at an emergency meeting called by the club’s committee.

As well as committee members, those allowed to have their say were social club members and backers who have signed up to a shares scheme to help turn Town into a limited company this summer. Chairman Greaves, a former police officer, was ousted by 28 votes to 19.

The position of fellow owner Michael Johnson, the 38-year-old former Birmingham City, Notts County and Derby County defender, remains unclear. Johnson is currently vice-chairman and director of football.

Manager Des Lyttle has also yet to decide whether to stay with the club.

Both Johnson and Lyttle have arranged a meeting with Town’s chief executive, Liz Morley, on Wednesday night (February 1) to determine the future at Watnall Road.

Greaves, who owns local bus company Premiere Travel, said: “I am devastated. I am bitterly disappointed with the result of the vote.

“We had big plans to take Hucknall Town forward and turn it into a community club.

“I came into this with the best intentions and I would like to thank the fans and everyone involved who have supported me. I wish the club all the best.”

Greaves and Johnson breezed into Watnall Road in October after a traumatic summer during which Town nearly folded under the burden of a VAT debt of more than £87,000. This followed the team’s relegation from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Premier Division.

After the resignation of former boss Tommy Brookbanks, the duo installed ex-Nottingham Forest defender Lyttle (40) as manager. And under Lyttle, Town have remained in contention for a promotion play-off place in Division One South of the Evo-Stik League.

When Brookbanks left, The Yellows sat fifth in the table with 21 points from 11 games. After a 2-1 win at Brigg Town last Saturday, they sit sixth with 45 points from 29 games.

However, off the field, the turmoil and power struggles that have plagued the club in recent seasons continued to rage.

Greaves fell out with chief executive Morley over Town’s cashflow. But Morley and other club officials began to question whether the new owner had the financial clout to realise his vision for The Yellows.

Despite incentives to fans, attendances for home games remained poor. But Greaves became increasingly frustrated at the level of debt the club were saddled with.

Greaves, who says he is a self-made multi-millionaire, insisted he had a business plan — and the necessary funds — to make Town self-sufficient.

“I have a very clear understanding of money issues in football and I am deeply offended by statements that imply an inability to produce the money,” he says.

Greaves’s frustration boiled over when a backer who had promised to buy shares to turn Town from a members’ club into into a limited company had cold feet and asked for his money back.

He called a crisis meeting with committee members and trustees, demanding to be given control of the club’s finances, so that he could see where his investment was going, and also demanding the removal of Morley.

When this move failed, he signalled his intention to step down until the committee had decided on its future direction for the club, and he left the country for a two-week holiday.

While on holiday, he launched a bid to persuade the club to accept his proposals for the future of Town. That bid led to yesterday’s meeting, which rejected Greaves’s plans.

The decision puts the spotlight on Town’s finances again. Greaves claimed he was initially pumping between £2,000 and £3,000 a week into the club, although he later revised this figure to more than £20,000 in total, and he previously promised to continue to honour the players’ wages. The wage-bill includes four players on contract.

Town insist his input was nowhere near £20,000 but they claim thay have attracted new investment, also amounting to about £20,000, that will see them through until the end of the campaign without any help from Greaves.

It needs to be decided whether that new cash will be spent on players’ wages or on paying off other debts. However the club stress that the VAT debt continues to be paid off via the monthly instalments agreed with HMRC. Just £30,000 is now outstanding.

An extraordinary general meeting has now been called for Sunday February 12 to ratify the vote against Greaves and also to appoint a new chairman.

However the saga looks likely to rumble on, with Greaves offering to prove that he did inject £20,000 into the club and also threatening to take legal action to retrieve it.