Backroom turmoil threatens to tear Cheshire Phoenix Board apart

The extent of the turmoil going on behind the scenes at Cheshire Phoenix was unveiled yesterday in a revealing post by Chairman Mike Burton on Facebook. Deep fractures within the Board were exposed after a close vote resulted in Head Coach John Lavery’s exit from the club. According to Burton, “a fortnight ago the two Board Members who disagreed with the decision along with John Lavery, who also happens to be a director of the club, have turned to a former director but current shareholder Terry Hearfield for support despite the boards vote and decision being legal and binding. Between them all they seem motivated to reverse the boards decision and to oust me from my role as Chairman of the club so that John Lavery can be reinstated as Head Coach.”

We will keep you posted as the story progresses.

Read Mike Burton’s full statement below:

I have been involved in Basketball in the Ellesmere Port area and nationally since 1970 and I am currently in my second spell as Chairman of our long standing BBL franchise. At the end of this season I had a very difficult decision to make as to whether or not to support employing John Lavery as next year’s Head Coach. I called a board meeting to make a decision and the Board decided, on my casting vote, not to employ John Lavery for next season.

Since then we have had a tremendous amount of interest in the position ranging from a former player of the club who is now very successfully employed in coaching to a former BBL Player of the Year who wishes to start off his coaching career as a player coach and he has already put together the structure of a team of experienced BBL players and GB internationals who are prepared to come and play here within our budget!

However a fortnight ago the two Board Members who disagreed with the decision along with John Lavery, who also happens to be a director of the club, have turned to a former director but current shareholder Terry Hearfield for support despite the boards vote and decision being legal and binding. Between them all they seem motivated to reverse the boards decision and to oust me from my role as Chairman of the club so that John Lavery can be reinstated as Head Coach. If they are successful in removing me from office on Tuesday 24th May at the first board meeting they have called, which is being held at the EPSV at 7.30pm, then I fear greatly for the future of the club and our basketball community.

Through the tremendous work done by our new General Manager James Brice we have sustained and greatly increased our fan base during our first year in our new arena. I am confident that with a better coaching structure and the same support from our fantastic fans that we can take the club to a whole new level. We have strong business links with local companies through former Chairman Andrew Donaldson who has already indicated that, under my chairmanship, these will continue next season and give us a strong financial start to season 2016/17. Our junior programme is going from strength to strength, with six teams entered in competition for next season. These teams are a huge part of our community work in the area and bring in family’s, players and coaches to our sport who would otherwise be involved in other activities. We have a sound structure in place across our volunteer base with experienced local people leading the club that they have a passion for and under my stewardship we have recently developed strong contacts with all of our local schools. I fear that all of this will be lost if people who have little or no experience of running a professional sports club are allowed to take over the board of your community club.

I have a passion for the club and want to see it move onward and upwards and would love to be the Chairman when we could achieve another season like we did in the ‘Jet Wash’ years when we won all four domestic trophies under my Chairmanship.

In summary I believe I have a new quality coach in waiting and a budget to take us there with a great General Manager who is being mentored by an exceptional entrepreneur who shares our vision, and a perfect new arena in our home town to play in and I just hope that my vision for OUR FUTURE can be realised.

Source: Cheshire Phoenix
Image: P.Davies