Friday, September 10, 2010

Rovers takeover latest - Ali comes out fighting

Following the allegations in the Radio Five Investigates programme on Sunday Mr Ahsan Ali Syed has responded with a statement.

The full text is here on the Lancashire Telegraph site, no doubt with the usual mindless babble in the comments box underneath.

As I've gone on record in expressing my doubts, here, and comparing him to Michael Knighton, here, it's only fair to include the relevant points stand as a reply here too.

So, in response to allegations made on the BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates broadcast on 5 September 2010, Western Gulf Advisory (WGA) dealt with the flat, the unpaid council tax and where he comes from in India. I always thought this was tittle tattle. As for whether he studied at the London School of Economics, well, he doesn't address that point.

The statement does address the probity of WGA and the analysis on the programme of the annual report:

"The conclusions drawn in the programme regarding WGA B.S.C (Bahraini Shareholding Company)’s accounts are false and misleading and have been independently audited by BDO. Like any similar financial institution, WGA does not need to keep significant cash positions as it does not have large liabilities or operating expenses. Furthermore WGA’s Bahraini business is a separate entity to its European businesses, which are responsible for executing all of its investments."

Introducing BDO into the mix is important and ups the ante for me. I still think 7 days is a very short period to audit a business of such size and complexity, but then I'm not as familiar with local audit law.

The statement ends with a fairly sturdy defence and a restatement of intent.

"WGA is a well capitalised business and has the sum of $850 million available in liquid assets for investment purposes. As previously stated, WGA remains committed to expanding its investment activities in the UK.

"Any attempt to suggest that Mr Ali has a questionable track record in business and is therefore unsuitable to take over Blackburn Rovers is a false and damaging allegation.”

Wow. That's fighting talk. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough, as they used to say on the Blackburn End.

But none of this should ever have got to this stage. It has created a circus around our football club. Again, in my experience deals are done in private and major statements are not bandied around for public dissection before a deal is done. The same goes for sheep stations in Australia and property companies in Ireland. Certainly the long list of deals that WGA lists on its website were conducted well below any radar I have access to. Having had a taste of the British press, maybe Mr Ali wishes he'd kept this one low key too.

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