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BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar on Ken Bates' letter
"Bates spares nobody's blushes"
 real 14k

banner Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 18:06 GMT
The Bates letter

The full text of Ken Bates' resignation letter from the Wembley board to FA supremo Adam Crozier.

Dear Adam,

I was somewhat disappointed to receive your letter dated 30 January 2001 last which had been a long time in coming - two months in fact.

I was also disappointed that despite the fact that Sir Rodney Walker by his own admission had met and spoken to over 40 people since 11 December he found himself unable to have one with me, the person who is expected to deliver the stadium.

Since you are, relatively speaking, a newcomer to the project perhaps it will be helpful if I did a brief synopsis of how we got where we are today.

I acquired Wembley for the Football Association and made a substantial operating profit from the date of acquisition until closure.
  Ken Bates
In 1997 the Football Association had got itself in a mess with low-level staff conducting negotiations for the new Wembley Stadium and asked both David Dein and myself to get involved.

Dein dropped out of the project shortly after when Arsenal tried to buy Wembley for themselves.

Having read all the documents my advice to the then FA Executive Committee was that the project could be carried out but it had to get away from the committee syndrome that riddled the FA.

It would have to be run on commercial lines by a separate stand alone corporate structure.

Furthermore I said I could deliver it but would only be involved with the project if I was made chairman and given sufficient autonomy to get on with it.

My final stipulation was that as I had just moved to London to avoid unnecessary travelling, I would require the meetings to be based at Stamford Bridge.

I made it clear that I did not want one penny for my services. These conditions were accepted and I commenced work.

Originally the FA covenant was going to be used by the then WNST to borrow the construction cost in the City with the FA having no control over the ticketing, commercial or TV revenues.

There was some woolly vague arrangement that the Football Association would receive some unspecified share of future profits (if any).

I acquired Wembley for the Football Association and made a substantial operating profit from the date of acquisition until closure despite having inherited a lacklustre leaderless management.

We recruited our own first class management team from scratch which ran the business, obtained all planning permissions required (including the 106 Agreement) negotiated with both the Government of London Office and English Partnerships to ensure that over 100million was committed to improving the

We developed a blueprint for the most magnificent stadium in the world.
  Ken Bates
local infrastructure and via English Partnerships got commitment from both Railtrack and London Underground to renovate their three existing decrepit stations.

Dealing with a signature architect is always difficult but we took control of both the project and the design and increased the capacity from 80,000 to 90,000 without which the business plan would not be viable.

In the event we developed a blueprint for the most magnificent stadium in the world.

Following intensive negotiations we obtained a very competitive price from the successful contractor (Multiplex) who came with the reputation of having built the Olympic Stadium in Sydney together with a guarantee that the quality of workmanship and finishes will be no less than those which are much admired in the Olympic Stadium.

Our conservative business plan was reviewed by Deloitte and Touche and although they revised our figures downwards we still had a robust business plan which was accepted by the lead Bank.

We were confident we would comfortably exceed that plan.

Each stage of the project was presented to the WNSL Board and on every occasion it received unanimous approval.

Furthermore, it was endorsed by Chris Smith, who stated so publicly. Back in September we had all the consents, first class design agreed, everything in place bar the finance.

Let us now turn to finance. Sir David Hill-Wood was determined to get involved in the project from the start and made strong representation to be appointed vice-chairman - to use his own phrase `to protect my back' (in the event he turned out to be my Brutus).

David Dein
Dein: regarded by Bates as his Brutus
Prior to my involvement, Investec, the company he works for, had been consulted on an ad hoc basis but when the project got under way Hill-Wood insisted that the arrangements should be formalised.

They were and to date we have paid out approximately 1million in fees to Investec.

In their role as financial advisers Investec organised a beauty parade of prospective lead bankers and after due diligence strongly recommended Chase Manhattan be appointed.

In the event, the performance of Chase Manhattan has been abject. Their approach to the subject seems to have been riven by internal dissent.

Every promise and forecast which they made has simply not been delivered. At the financing launch their lead salesperson described raising the money as a piece of cake.

As for Investec, their performance has simply been pathetic. This leads me on to the situation whereby I am no longer chairman.

Apparently Clive Sherling of the Football Licensing Authority made/received a mobile telephone call to/from Alan Green of Chase while he was in America, who indicated that the bank was unhappy with me as chairman.

I may add that Alan Green took the trouble to ring me and flatly deny that statement. He said the bank's position was neutral.

In the presence of Dave Richards I asked Mike Constant of Chase whether my position as chairman was an obstacle to proceeding with the financing and he stated the bank was neutral.

He also volunteered that you had asked him the same question earlier in the week and had given you the same answer.

Even Jesus Christ suffered only one Pontius Pilate - I had a whole team of them!
  Ken Bates
Nevertheless you decided to call an emergency meeting of the FA Board on 8 December, having previously and without any authority asked Sir Roland Smith on 6 December if he would be willing to replace me as chairman.

In the event, at the 8 December board meeting it was resolved that I should continue as chairman but work more closely with you. The subsequent press release did not reflect that.

At the WNSL board meeting on Monday 11 December after several whispered consultations led by Hill-Wood and Sherling I was asked to withdraw.

Hill-Wood took the meeting, Clive Sherling reported on his alleged discussions with Alan Green and I understand that Hill-Wood expressed similar sentiments. It was then resolved that I should be asked to step aside, which I did.

It is interesting that I subsequently received telephone calls from both Sherling and Hill-Wood offering their apologies if they had misunderstood the situation.

All this was of course done following and during a sustained press campaign to undermine both the project itself and my own credibility.

We know that a considerable part of it came from Kate Hoey and her lackeys but it is also clear that a lot came from within the Football Association itself.

New Wembley
Part of the blueprint for the new Wembley
It was quite disgraceful that not one single person on either board stood up publicly to defend the project and my position.

Where were the PR company you appointed or indeed the Director of Public Affairs when they were needed?

Even Jesus Christ suffered only one Pontius Pilate - I had a whole team of them!

Having reviewed the above and considered the number of conversations which I have had with you and others it would appear that I am expected to bring the construction of the new stadium to a successful conclusion supervised by some sort of committee.

Furthermore it would appear that the project could lack the strong leadership required to get rid of Government interference and other irrelevant parties who are allowed to presume an importance far beyond their station or financial status.

Sir Rodney Walker
Walker: did not meet Bates
The Wembley board will be hamstrung by the FA board and while the new chairman will receive a substantial fee (which came as a surprise to the other directors) I would be expected to continue as before without payment (although in my case I did not seek one penny payment).

It would take another four years of my life to complete the project and after careful consideration I have decided that I do not want to spend it working with people, a number of whom I neither trust nor respect.

I therefore resign from the board of WNSL with immediate effect. In view of the leaks and spin doctoring that appears to have become a way of life within the FA, my secretary will release this letter to the Press Association immediately in the hope that for once the facts will be reported in a balanced way and factual manner.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Bates.

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08 Feb 01 |  Wembley
Bates quits Wembley project
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