A company which bought a £7m debt owed by Bury for £70,000, and was then able to wield a crucial vote in favour of the club’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA), is reported to be owned by the partner of the daughter of Steve Dale, the club’s owner.
The MP for Bury North, James Frith, has called for an investigation into the sale of the debt to the company, RCR Holdings, which was formed on 16 July, two days before the meeting at which it then voted through the CVA.
RCR Holdings, registered to a private house address in Chadderton, Oldham, is wholly owned by Kris Richards, 41, who is also the sole director. Many Bury supporters immediately identified him as the partner of Dale’s daughter, then BBC Radio Manchester reported on Thursday that Richards had confirmed that to its reporter, Mike Minay.
Richards did not respond to a call or message from the Guardian to confirm it, nor to explain how the RCR deal came about or where the money to buy the debt came from. Dale repeatedly declined to answer the Guardian’s question about whether Richards is his daughter’s partner.
Dale’s CVA for Bury, who declared they were unable to pay their debts, and face a threat of expulsion from the EFL on Saturday, proposed paying “non-football” creditors a quarter of the total £4m they were owed. A meeting to approve it was adjourned on 9 July and rescheduled for 18 July. On 16 July RCR Holdings was formed, with Richards as the sole director and owner of its £100 share capital.
Two days later at the creditors’ meeting, the accountant supervising the CVA, Steven Wiseglass, announced that RCR Holdings had bought a debt of £7.1m owed by Bury to Mederco Ltd, a property company owned by the previous Bury owner, Stewart Day, which is now in administration. The Mederco administrators, the accountants Leonard Curtis, based in Leeds, this week reported to that company’s creditors that the £7m debt was sold to RCR for £20,000, rising to £70,000, one-hundredth of its value.
The weight of the £7m debt proportionate to the money owed to other creditors enabled Richards’ company to have a defining bearing on the vote to pass the CVA.
At the meeting a representative of a law firm Kay Johnson Gee, which had bills of £16,251 unpaid by Bury and voted against the CVA, asked if RCR was seeking a “dividend” alongside other creditors, of a quarter of the £7m debt it had bought for £70,000. RCR’s representative appeared to indicate that the company would not seek a dividend if it meant more money was required to fund the CVA. However, Dale told the Guardian on Thursday that in fact RCR is indeed seeking from the Bury CVA a quarter of the £7m: £1.75m, for a debt bought for £70,000.
Frith has called for an investigation into the RCR purchase of the debt, in a letter to the EFL chair Debbie Jevans this week, in which he said it “raises serious questions as to the relationship between Mederco (and its administrators), RCR Holdings and the current owner [Steve Dale].”
In a statement to the BBC, Dale declined to comment specifically on the RCR purchase or on whether Richards is his daughter’s partner, but said: “All dealings with the CVA have been done in a correct and proper manner.”
Last week the former Bury club secretary Jill Neville wrote to Dale when she resigned after 35 years’ service, calling on him to surrender ownership and control immediately so that the club could remain in the EFL and be saved.