A debate will take place at Wanderers’ AGM at the Reebok Stadium tomorrow with the club’s 6,000 minority shareholders set to lose their right to retain a stake in the club if the vote is passed.
The club’s holding company Burnden Leisure PLC (Public Limited Company) will become Burnden Leisure Ltd if the proposal is approved.
Accounts would still be available to the public from Companies House, for a fee but the level of detail disclosed, such as details outlining where various sources of income come from, can be significantly lower if a company is not listed.
Burnden Leisure is currently a public limited company, although majority shareholder Eddie Davies controls 94.5 per cent of shares in the company.
At the end of last month, Burnden Leisure PLC revealed in its latest accounts that its debts have now risen to £163.8 million.
About £150 million of that is owed to another of Mr Davies’ firms, Moonshift Investments Limited, a private firm which has made six sizeable loans to Burnden Leisure.
These have been converted into a single ten-year repayment plan.
Burnden Leisure was first listed on the Alternative Investment Stock market in 1997 when the club moved to the Reebok Stadium, but it was delisted in 2003 when Mr Davies became majority shareholder.
This meant shares in the club were no longer traded and about 6,000 shareholders — each with less than a 0.1 per cent stake — were left with holdings they could only trade privately. Howard Parker, an existing shareholder, said: “I think I will go along to the AGM to see what’s happening.
“Effectively our shares are now worthless but it will be interesting to see how Eddie Davies intends to compensate us.”
Mark Worsley, from accountants CLB Coopers chartered accounts, said: “The benefits from a company changing from being floated on the stock market and being private are obvious, as the firm clearly becomes a lot easier to control.
“One change is that private firms publish their accounts nine months after the year-end date of June 30, rather than six, so a football club in this position would publish accounts at the end of March rather than December.
“But I can’t see what benefits this would have to Wanderers.
“There are some administrative costs attached to being a PLC but we are only talking about a few thousand pounds.
“There can be less disclosure in accounts for private firms but the club may opt to publish their accounts as normal anyway.”
Wanderers confirmed the change would be voted on by shareholders at the AGM. Chairman Phil Gartside declined to comment before the meeting.
A club spokesman said: “The issue will remain between shareholders and the club until after the AGM.”