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Sunday, April 25, 2010

From the Archives - The Week Hereford Nearly Went Bust

The last week or so of April 1998 was the week Hereford United nearly went out of business. Players and staff had not been paid for up to eight weeks and at the start of the week the promised loan from the Bristol Street Group was not in place. And without the loan manager Graham Turner was unlikely to buy the shares of both chairman Peter Hill and director Robin Fry

"We are still in the process of sorting things out," said Turner. "We are still very much dependent on that before the transfer of shares to me will go ahead.

"It's been a nerve-racking time."

Keith Downing was the coach at Edgar Street at the time.

"The club's financial problems have been well documented and we've gone through spells where we've not been paid for six or eight weeks. It's been a day-to-day situation," said Downing.

Stan Tippins, perhaps Hereford's best known fan at the time, was doing his best to find money for the Bulls.

He managed to obtain donations from Deborah Harry and Simple Minds members Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill.

Matters came to head during the last week of the month.

"The future of the club is very much under threat," said Turner.

"We know we will see the season out which was the priority but what happens after that is still up in the air.

"We've still got bills to pay as well as sorting out the Creditors Voluntary Agreement.

"Hereford United in its current set-up is either days away from survival or from going under. I think it will be determined on Monday."

Turner had agreed to purchase chairman Peter Hill's shares but was waiting on director Robin Fry.

And then on April 24th came the news that Fry and Turners solicitors were nearing agreement.

"I'm a bit more optimistic about the situation now," said Turner. "It's been quite a traumatic time for everyone at the club.

"With the way things were going, I was starting to get cold feet. But I've got to continue if the club is to survive.

"As I understand it at the moment Robin Fry has to conclude his own business agreement with Chelverton before the agreement between myself and Robin over the purchase shares goes forward."

A few more anxious days for the Bulls but at last the money from Bristol Street arrived.

"I have been informed by our club solicitor that there will be sufficient funds released to satisfy the company's voluntary agreement and cover our immediate requirements," said chairman Peter Hill.

Turner appeared relieved that matters were being sorted but he also realised that money would remain very tight.

"We've got a future at the moment," he said.

"Chelverton and Bristol Stadiums want to see the club run in a viable manner

"The budget we will have is going to be very tight, there's no doubt about that, but sometimes you have to speculate.

"If we have got the squad to push into the top three or four, we will get the attendances and that will bring the money into the club. So the aim has got to be to get us into that position to challenge for a place in the Third Division."

And on May 6th at a fans forum Turner revealed that within 14 days he would become the largest shareholder in Hereford United.