“The existence of Rochdale AFC is at stake” – chairman warns club has just six weeks to find investment

Date published: 21 February 2024

Rochdale AFC has until the end of March to find an investor or be forced into liquidation, its chairman has warned.

The bleak announcement revealed that the club is looking for an investor to gain 90% of the club at a cost of £2 million so it can continue.

Chairman Simon Gauge – who became involved in the club in June 2021 – has put in £566,000 over the last few months to keep the club going, but says he has now reached his credit limit.

Without investment, the fan-owned club will be forced into liquidation after years of “perilous” finances.

The 117-year-old club is currently playing in the National League after being relegated last year. The move brought an end to 102 years in the Football League.

In a statement, Gauge said Dale’s “major asset” was the stadium, but had “little else of financial value.”

Describing the club as “asset-rich and cash-poor,” he revealed he and his family have subsidised the club with £566,000 to “buy time to find investment to take the club forward.”

He said that, had he and his fellow directors “been fully aware of what they were taking on” after the club was relegated from League One and the post-Covid period, “we would not have got involved.”

He added: “We would certainly have gone nowhere near the club had we been aware of the hostile takeover attempt that followed.

“Fighting this took a great deal of time and resource, and was a distraction from trying to arrest the downward spiral that the club found itself in both on and off the pitch.

“This downward spiral led to the club facing a series of challenges, consecutively, that continue to threaten our very existence.”


Simon Gauge, chairman of Rochdale AFC
Simon Gauge, chairman of Rochdale AFC


Gauge explained there have been several barriers to investment, including “club management, level of debt, the financial situation and uneconomical leases.”

An EGM has been called for shareholders on Thursday 7 March at the Ratcliffe Bar to try and agree to the proposals, including the creation of nine million new shares.

Gauge said: “We are in talks with interested parties, but they will not move forward until the conditions for investment are in place.

“In an ideal world, we would have an investor in place before calling the EGM, but we do not have that luxury of time. This EGM is essential to achieving the required conditions that an investor wants.

“If we move to a period of exclusivity with any party before the EGM, we will disclose this to shareholders.

“This resolution needs to be passed at the EGM for us to have any chance of securing the required investment that will ensure the long-term future of our club.

“If it isn’t passed, the threat of liquidation at the end of March is very real. The passing of this resolution does not guarantee saving the club, but it will certainly give it a fighting chance.

“To be clear, the existence of Rochdale AFC is at stake. The opportunity to give a long-term future is now in the shareholders’ hands.”

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