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Morecambe FC sale process is 'still ongoing' says Shrimps CEO

Ben Sadler, CEO of Morecambe FC

The Chief Executive Officer of Morecambe FC says the sale of the club is "still ongoing".

Ben Sadler was speaking amid continuing speculation about the sale of the football club to soft drinks entrepreneur Sarbjot Johal, a process which has been dragging on for several months.

Reports emerged earlier this week that Mr Johal had launched a bid to take over League One club Wigan Athletic, news which further unsettled Shrimps supporters.

Read more: Would be Morecambe FC owner understood to be frontrunner to take over at Wigan Athletic - Beyond Radio

In an interview for the Morecambe FC YouTube channel on Wednesday, Mr Sadler was asked for an update on the ownership situation.


"We are sat on the periphery, supporting the club as we can through this and trying to support the owner with his sale," said Mr Sadler.

"My understanding is that the sale process is still ongoing. We are in constant dialogue with the owner but we are not in control of the sale process whatsoever.  At the times that we've needed to support it by providing information, we have. That's the input we've had.

"The process continues. We are hopeful for everyone's sake that comes to a swift conclusion and that can allow the football club to move on."

Morecambe was relegated to League Two at the end of the 2022/23 season, the first relegation in the club's 103 year history.

Prior to that, the club was put up for sale in September 2022 by owners Bond Group, owned by Jason Whittingham.

Bond Group's preferred bidder is Mr Johal, who has been in protracted talks hoping to complete a takeover with his company Sarb Capital Ltd, He was a guest at the Mazuma Stadium on match days several times last season.

The English Football League (EFL) has to approve any prospective new owner of any club.

To date, Mr Johal has been unable to complete the takeover.

His company has also invested funds into the club twice in recent weeks, after player and staff wages were delayed in March, and then again last month, when the Shrimps announced Sarb Capital had made a "further significant contribution" into the club. Both financial injections were in return for share capital.

Back in February, the EFL released a statement, confirming that the situation with Mr Johal remained ongoing, and further information was required to be provided to them before any approval could be given regarding any purchase of the Shrimps.

Minutes published of a recent meeting between the Morecambe board and the Shrimps Trust, the official supporter’s group, confirmed that the EFL was still waiting on documentation it had requested in February.

Beyond Radio has contacted the EFL and Sarbjot Johal, but at time of publication had yet to receive a response.

While the sale talks continue, Bond Group has also recently pledged a financial ‘support package’ for the Shrimps, which ‘’includes a playing budget that will be the highest provided as a League Two club in our history".

Read more: Morecambe FC’s owners announce ‘highest ever League Two budget in club’s history' - Beyond Radio

Mr Sadler also spoke about how the budget announcement would affect Derek Adams' position as manager, saying the club has "absolute belief" Adams is the "best person to take the football club forward".

"When Derek re-signed for us, there was a statement announcing his arrival," said Mr Sadler.

"It said he was under contract until the end of this season just gone with an option to extend. It’s not strictly like that. Derek’s arrangement is confidential and it’s ongoing and it continues through this summer into next year and hopefully beyond.

"We’re working on a basis that unless Derek decides he doesn’t want to be here at some point in the future or the club does for whatever reason, that relationship is as it is and keeps on going. We have absolute belief that Derek is the best person to take this football club forward. Heading back into League Two we believe there is nobody better of taking on the challenge once again.

"The additional budget was welcomed, which the owner has committed to. We are thankful for that. We've got to be realistic about things. League Two has moved on a lot in the last three years. What a budget would have got you even three years ago, the division has moved on so much, probably more than the other two Football League divisions.

"Yes it’s going to be a record budget on the playing side for League Two...but we've got to be realistic about where that puts us. There's going to be a lot of teams spending more, some a lot more. It’s going to be about getting the most out of that budget that we can. We have huge ambitions of being as competitive and do as well as we can. But we are in a different ball park to some of the bigger teams in the division. We’ve got to maximise absolutely everything that we’ve got, which we’ve done before.

"The last six months, I think for everyone, it's been difficult. It’s been a huge learning opportunity for us all. That's happened, that's life. Right now what can we control? It’s what’s going to go on in the next six or 12 months. Yes, we've got to be realistic. But at the same time, we have to be optimistic and positive about it. The club has done it before and performed absolute wonders on what was a significantly reduced budget again."

Mr Sadler also spoke about the recent first ever live music concerts held on the pitch at Morecambe FC in late May, which saw around 3,000 people enjoy a weekend of Abba and Queen hits performed by stars of West End musicals.

Read more: VIDEOS and PHOTOS: Thousands enjoy first ever live music concerts on Morecambe FC pitch - Beyond Radio

"Hosting the shows for the first time, that was a huge success," he said.

"We were delighted with how they were received. Plenty of people had a great time. If we look to do something like that in the future, I hope that’s set the tone. I’m incredibly proud of everyone who’s worked hard to deliver that."

Mr Sadler also spoke about recruiting players for the upcoming 2023/24 season, amid concerns from supporters that 14 players left the club at the end of last season, leaving a threadbare first team squad.

Read more: Shrimps announce fourteen players will leave – with nobody offered a new contract - Beyond Radio

"Plans are in place on the recruitment front," he said.

"The reality is, the recruitment of players does take a little bit longer. We need to make sure we're the strongest option for players where we can be.

"Patience, belief in what we are doing, the landscape is looking more positive with the announcement from Bond Group recently. The supporters have been fantastic."

Mr Sadler also said that 1800 season tickets had been sold to date, which was "a 30 per cent drop-off in numbers and revenue" from this time ahead of last season.

But he said the club remained in a "really good place".

"Look at where we were three or four years ago, with six or seven hundred season ticket supporters. Over the course of three or four years there are going to be ups and downs. The trajectory is going in the right direction. 

"We are all in this together. We have to be united. None of us wanted to be in this position over the past three to six months but it's where we find ourselves and it's what we now make of it."

Read more: Morecambe FC directors call for urgent sale of club as 800k loss revealed - Beyond Radio

Read more: Morecambe fans urged to ‘support the club to sustain income’ - Beyond Radio

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