Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell has joined the campaign to save Crystal Palace by writing to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
Barwell has appealed to Osborne to intervene and save the club from liquidation, the process for which will begin later today if the CPFC 2010 Consortium fail to agree a takeover deal by 3pm, and forwarded him some of the hundreds of emails he has received from worried fans.
He also sent the email to financial secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway.
Here is the email in full:
I am emailing you to ask you to intervene to save Crystal Palace Football Club from liquidation.
You may already be aware of the issue (it was the lead story on the London news last night and I have received hundreds of emails overnight, some of which have been copied to you) but in case you aren’t here is a brief summary (not as brief as I would like as it is fairly complicated).
Crystal Palace Football Club went into administration on 27 January.
A group of local businessmen have put together a consortium – CPFC2010 – to buy the club and its ground Selhurst Park (which, bizarrely, is not owned by the club).
They have made it clear that if they cannot acquire the ground, they will not buy the club.
The firm that owns the ground – Selhurst Park Ltd – is also in administration and the major creditor is Bank of Scotland, which as you know is part of the Lloyds Banking Group and hence part owned by the taxpayer.
CPFC 2010 thought that they had reached an agreement with Bank of Scotland but they have now been sent a contract that does not reflect their understanding of that agreement and is unacceptable to them.
To their credit, the Bank is willing to sell the ground to the consortium for less than they may be able to get from a property developer but they are worried that the consortium may sell the ground for development in the future, making a profit and embarrassing the bank in the process.
In order to put their minds at rest, the consortium had agreed to an 'anti embarrassment' clause that would allow the Bank to see a further return if the consortium realises greater value from the ground in the future.
The disagreement is over what that amount should be and how it should be calculated.
At the moment, it seems that the Bank want to make unlimited return in the future even if that value is created on the back of the success of the football club or money the consortium invests in new infrastructure and not due to the appreciation of the value of the land.
The consortium believes that the maximum the Bank should make is the difference between what the consortium will pay for the land as a football ground and what a property developer would pay now as a development opportunity plus interest.
The situation is urgent because one of the club’s major creditors – the hedge fund Agilo – have made clear their intention to start selling players and liquidate the club if agreement is not reached by 3pm today.
The consortium are extremely frustrated because the Bank does not appear to appreciate the urgency of the situation and insists on dealing with them through intermediaries rather than face to face.
I appreciate that the taxpayer’s investment in Lloyds Banking Group is managed at arms length from Ministers by UK Financial Investments Ltd so it is not easy for you to intervene but I am sure you will appreciate the consequences if a club with thousands of supporters and a 100-year history is liquidated because of the perceived indifference of a bank in which the taxpayer has a significant stake.
I am copying this email to Jeremy, to Mark who I understand has responsibility for financial services and to Richard Ottaway.
I will also call your Private Office at the Treasury.
Gavin Barwell MP for Croydon Central"