PAUL King has heard it all – he is holding Salford to ransom, he is blackmailing people, he should be ashamed.
To him, he is just being honest after putting his house on the line again to keep the Red Devils alive and sometimes, the truth hurts.
Salford director Paul King has defended a community share offer that can keep the club alive.
So far, £180,000 of an initial £250,000 community share option target for June 5, which would see all investors become owners of the club, has been reached.
But the Reds Rise Together initiative is mired in controversy, especially a link-up with Salford Credit Union which led people to hit out at what they see as asking people without much money anyway to take out a loan to help a club.
“19.9 per cent APR? This is a disgrace,” are some of the responses. According to the union’s loan calculator, loaning the minimum £100 needed – the money is needed upfront rather than in instalments – over 12 months is repaid at just £2 per week.
King, however, insists the whole thing is a realisation of where they are at. The last benefactor, Marwan Koukash, left them with crippling debts, no other money man has wanted them.
And he wants the culture of selling to survive to stop – Salford can win something if it does.
He said: “People will have a pop but that’s only because they don’t understand it.
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“I’ve been told the club’s trying to blackmail people into doing it. No, it’s just reality. I’m not a benefactor, never have been – the last one we had left us in a hole.
“The alternative is we’re just in a death spiral but I know we’ve launched the ownership model in the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.
“We couldn’t shake a benefactor out of the tree and we’re at the heart of the community, we’ve opened it up to them.
“The idea is to generate as much money as we can so we can compete at the highest level for as long as we can – but also to utilise it in the marketing and commercial side to make it self-sustaining.
“We’ve 670 owners at the moment. Have they spoken to their business about sponsoring, their colleagues about donating? Effectively, we should have 670 commercial agents.
“We’ve wanted to do it for two or three years but the holding company holds the share, so the idea is that gets the money, then loans or donates it to the club.
“For 40 years, we’ve always sold our best players to survive. That’s why we play in front of 3,500-4,000 people. We continually do it and people lose the faith.
“People expect us to sell as that’s what we’ve done. We want to break that narrative – we need to change the public of Salford’s opinion.
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“We believe we can win something if we keep the squad together. We’ve evidenced it and we want to give ourselves the chance to do that. The potential of this club is absolutely enormous.”
Like any similar scheme, Salford’s – which will be centre of an event tonight featuring Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has different bands.
Becoming an owner costs between £100 and £249, a Founder’s Club member £1,000-£9,999 and space in the President’s Club £10,000 plus.
On the controversial link up, Salford Credit Union said: “We were approached following frequent requests being received for a payment scheme payable via Direct Debit from supporters who wanted to support the campaign, by purchasing a share over a term that is suitable to them.
“Nobody is being asked to take out a loan, it is simply another option that is available should the individual decide that this is the preferred option for them.
“Salford Credit Union was chosen as we are a member owned, not-for-profit, ethical provider of financial services and we are fully regulated.
“As a regulated provider of financial services, we only provide loans that are deemed affordable, and every application is subject to a credit check and an affordability assessment prior to a loan being offered.
“The rate of 19.9 per cent APR is a typical rate charged by credit unions and other high street lenders and is comparable with other payment methods such as a credit card.
“We also do not charge set up fees, admin fees or charge for early repayment of the loan. Interest is calculated daily on the reducing loan balance, so the quicker the loan is repaid the less interest will be payable.”
Salford director Paul King admits his house is once again his personal guarantee as he fights to keep the club afloatSTEVE MCCORMICK/SALFORD RED DEVILS
And the £250,000 will do a lot more than just cover the wages for a month, with another appeal made down the line.
King, who will not stand for election to the new six to nine-person board if the scheme succeeds, added: “It’s a case of not giving people too much power – it’s one share, one vote, whether you’ve invested 10 grand or £100.
“I will stand down and not stand for election. I’ll remain as managing director but it’ll be a conflict if I’m on the board too.”
People may see Salford’s scheme as risky but few are as high as the one King has taken in putting his own home up as guarantee on a £350,000 loan from Salford Council – being made in two £175,000 instalments, the second only with the guarantee – to help them through.
And anyone believing this scheme is just a way of getting people to pay that off and save the roof over his head is very wrong.
He told SunSport: “The guarantee on my house is still there. The council said they wouldn’t do the loan without it.
“If we get the £250,000, are we going to pay the council £175,000 immediately? No we’re not.
“And just like the Government loan to get through the Covid-19 pandemic, repayments start in July. The council loan will be repaid, with interest on top of it.
“If we can get to 6,000 crowds, it’s self-sustaining. We’ve a wage bill of staff and players of about £2 million, the numbers don’t add up.”