'Hostile takeover' of Rochdale AFC abandoned after 'investors' withdraw from EFL approval process

Date published: 23 August 2021

A ‘hostile takeover’ of Rochdale AFC has been abandoned after an investigation was launched by the English Football League (EFL).

The EFL released a statement on Saturday 21 August saying that 'Morton House MGT is formally withdrawing from the approval process' and will now 'divest [sell] the shares already acquired'.

The withdrawal appears to be due to an EFL investigation into whether 'the club, any official, any relevant person(s) and/or any persons wishing to acquire control of the club complied with the requirements of the Owners’ and Directors’ Test (OADT)' - the same statement saying that the EFL had notified 'multiple individuals of the commencement of disciplinary investigations' relating to the aquisition of shares in Rochdale AFC.

The 'takeover' has been regarded as unwelcome by Rochdale AFC fans, the Dale Supporters Trust and the current board of directors.

The EFL statement in full: “On 16 August 2021, in accordance with its regulations, the EFL issued notice to multiple individuals of the commencement of disciplinary investigations in respect to the acquisition of shares in Rochdale Association Football Club.

“It is alleged that Morton House MGT acquired control of the club, and a number of individuals became relevant persons without the prior consent of the EFL in accordance with the Owners’ and Directors’ Test (OADT).

“The EFL’s objective was to gather additional evidence as it continued to investigate whether the club, any official, any relevant person(s) and/or any persons wishing to acquire control of the club complied with the requirements of the OADT and whether any relevant person(s) are subject to a disqualifying condition.

“Having considered the request for information made of them, Morton House MGT, on behalf of its directors, and representatives, has now informed the League that it is formally withdrawing from the approval process and plans to divest the shares acquired in the club at the earliest opportunity.

“Furthermore, Morton House MGT, its directors, and representatives, have confirmed to the League they are refusing to co-operate with the League’s ongoing investigations. Despite these developments, the EFL will be continuing with its disciplinary investigations into this matter and will take the most appropriate action available to it under its regulations.

“More importantly, the EFL will continue to work with Rochdale AFC as we collectively seek to ensure a successful and sustainable long-term future for the club and all those associated with it, particularly its players, staff, and supporters.”

The Dale Supporters’ Trust had previously raised concerns about the takeover, reportedly led by investors Andy Curran and Darrell Rose. The Football League responded with a statement in July, claiming: “The EFL is still to receive any evidence of the source and sufficiency of funding on behalf of any potential purchaser.”

Responding to the EFL statement, Dale chairman Simon Gauge said: “We’re very pleased with the statement; it is clear, decisive action by the EFL. We’re glad they’re being open and honest with everyone and communicated the latest situation with us.

“As a club, supporters, board and commercial partners, we’re all as one in this together. We’re all very happy. We want the club to stay as a fan-owned club; we want to run it in a sustainable manner; we want to make a success of Rochdale Football Club and this outside attempt to buy the club wasn’t welcome.

“We’re very cautiously pleased with the statement from the EFL, though still very guarded because it’s unsure of what the situation of the attempted share purchase was, and we’re also unsure of how they remove themselves from that situation.”

He also said: "Everyone who has done anything whatsoever to stop this sale going through, I thank them and let's look forward to a bright future now."



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