So he has been at it again. This time, Tim Fisher, the director of CCFC Holdings Ltd has been holding fan forums to try and placate the ever growing unease at which many supporters feel towards SISU, the Mayfair base hedge fund. SISU control the complex structure that comprises of the football club, which includes CCFC Ltd, the company currently in administration.
First, lets back track a week or two and look at a previous gaff regarding the proposed new stadium, due to be completed within three years, even though no land has been purchased nor stadium designs completed or submitted for planning. Tim Fisher was very bullish when live on air with Stuart Linell on BBC CWR on Saturday 25 May when discussing the Jimmy Hill Statue, the memorial garden and the bricks in the wall which fans purchased.
Let’s be absolutely crystal clear, these are all things that will be accommodated at the new stadium. It’s very important that the fans understand that whilst it’s a business decision, we know full well we are custodians of a football club which has a heritage going back more than 100 years.
After widespread criticism from City fans, he was later forced into a hasty retraction. Far from being absolutely crystal clear, Fisher acknowledged the need for negotiation when discussing such a sensitive area.
I want to be crystal clear that the club will not move the Jimmy Hill statue, the memorial garden or the bricks in the wall at the Ricoh Arena, without fully consulting supporters and the Hill family. We are meeting fans over the coming fortnight and these are items that will be very high on the agenda because of their huge importance. Ultimately, the supporters will decide what happens to their bricks, to their memorial garden and to their statue.
Continuing with the theme of statues, Tim is now alleged to have said:
They should put a statue of Joy Seppala outside the ground for the £45million she has put into the club.
The Coventry Telegraph reported that Tim considered the comment to be a ‘tongue in check quip’. Is that related to the discrepancy between the level of investment which SISU claim to have injected into the club when compared to the submitted accounts of the parent company, Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd, which shows a considerably lower figure owing to SISU, of around £29 million to May 2011? Admittedly this figure is somewhat out of date, but the latest set of accounts were due to be filed in February but remain overdue some three months later. Even this figure can be disputed to be closer to £20 million when looking at the cashflow statements and adding the amounts injected since SISU took control of the club in 2005.
Or was it a tongue in cheek quip suggesting that a statue should be erected in honour of Joy Seppala? The Coventry Telegraph accompanied the report with a picture of a headless statue rather than a headshot of the controller of SISU – which incidentally bore a remarkable resemblance to the late Margret Thatcher. And the reason for the beheading of Seppala? Could that be related to the fact that so very little is known about her? No pictures have been published and her online presence looks as though it has somehow been completely erased. A search on Google, which is so normally responsive, brings very little. Compare this to new born babies which these days have an immediate presence and instant history and its quite telling. There are companies out there that can delete almost everything about you online – at a cost. The last thing someone with such an aversion to publicity needs is a statue outside a football ground. The conversation between Fisher and Seppala the following day must have been one to witness. Sir Alex Ferguson was supposedly prone to throwing tea-cups when upset by members of his club. One can only imagine what a rather shy and reclusive boss of a multi million pound hedge fund may have to hand.
One thing that is difficult to find but can not be totally erased are judgements made in court. And I imagine Ms Seppala would like that one to disappear. This can be difficult to access, but for those interested, here is the full judgement. SISU and the accountancy giant KPMG were involved, according to the Times, in a bitter and long running battle over the administration of energy giant, TXU Europe. Seppala felt her investors were entitled to a better deal. The presiding judge, Mr. Justice Warren summed up as follows:
I fear Ms Seppala has a distorted recollection of some events … she is also prone to exaggerate — the respondents would characterise it as lying but I give her the benefit of the doubt on that. She had many other business matters on her mind and when it came to producing her witness statement and giving her oral evidence, her recollection was not, I think, as accurate as she would like to make out.
The statue may never appear. We can be certain that such a summing up by a respected judge will hang around unwanted, for a very very long time.