Saturday, 19 January 2013

Chelsea Pitch Owners - Recent Share Sales

Given the appalling way in which shares were issued prior to the Chelsea Pitch Owners EGM in 2011, enabling people connected with the club to buy up around a third of the votes cast in an effort to take control, it is not surprising that many, myself included, were concerned when shares sales restarted last summer.

With these anxieties in mind, and ahead of the CPO AGM later this month I have obtained an up to date copy of the shareholder register and analysed it.  Broadly my conclusions are that the new shares seem likely to be going to the right types of new shareholders:

  • of the 384 shares issued since summer 2012, around 280 have gone to people buying 1 or 2 shares each; that's over 70% to 'small' shareholders
  • contrast this to the period before the contentious 2011 EGM when 80%+ of the 2500+ shares issued went to people buying 10 or more shares, in fact mostly to those buying 50-100
  • of the recently issued shares only one holder bought more than 10 (he bought 50), another bought 10, and two members from the same family bought 10 between them; everyone else bought 5 or less
  • it should be noted that it is possible that some of the extra shares issued have gone to existing shareholders to raise their stakes above 10 shares, but I couldn't find any in a quick search
  • none seem to have gone to the people linked to the club who bought shares in October 2011; none of the new larger buyers appear to be connected to the club, although again this cannot be certain
In summary it is likely that the vast majority of new shares have gone to numerous small shareholders, probably genuine fans unconnected with the club.  By selling nearly 400 in one year a good start has been made in negating the power of the block of 1500-2000 bought by parties connected to the club in 2010. If this can be repeated next year and for the several years to come we will see the CPO return to its original intent: fans, independent of the club, owning and active in voting to control the CPO.

As a result I will be voting in favour of allowing the CPO to issue up to another 1000 shares in the next year.  This is not without risk (ultimately the club will know before we do whether a new vote on moving grounds is imminent, and could snap up available shares at short notice), and it would be good if the CPO board set out its plans to counter this (eg how are new applicants vetted?), but on balance I think it is a risk worth taking.

Which leaves it up to ordinary Chelsea fans, who are being reached via CPO adverts in the match day programme and season ticket renewal mailings, to take the opportunity to buy a share or two.  That way the future of the club's ground will be in the hands of genuine supporters.  

I'd urge all CFC fans, and especially current CPO shareholders, to encourage those they know to get involved and buy a share. 

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