Morecambe board: New owner has ‘failed to deliver on promised investment’

Abdulrahman Al Hashemi, left, with Diego Lemos at Morecambe's game with Carlisle earlier this season.
Abdulrahman Al Hashemi, left, with Diego Lemos at Morecambe's game with Carlisle earlier this season.

Morecambe FC directors say that new owner Diego Lemos has “failed to deliver on promised investment” after a second member of the board quit in as many days.

Abdulrahman Al Hashemi, a Qatari businessman who was co-chairman of the Shrimps, had only been in the post since October.

The board of directors at Morecambe FC held a meeting on Thursday after discovering Mr Al Hashemi had tendered his resignation on November 25.

Mr Lemos, who took over the League Two club in September, has not been at the Globe Arena for more than a month.

“Those present today would like to go on record to thank Mr Al Hashemi for his regrettably short tenure and wish him every success in the future,” said a statement on the club website.

“The board remains extremely concerned at the current state of affairs, as the current majority shareholder, Mr Diego Lemos, has failed to deliver on promised investment.

“Communication with Mr Lemos continues to be difficult and he has now been out of the country since Thursday, November 17.

“As a board we understand the criticism levelled at us for the lack of communication and rumours that naturally follow. There are legal issues that need to be resolved before the complete story can be told but once these issues are resolved the board would wish to provide further clarification.

“The board members who met today are united in their resolve to find solutions to the many problems facing Morecambe Football Club as a direct result of Mr Lemos’ continuing absence and his failure to deliver promised funding.

“We are extremely conscious of our responsibilities to our loyal and valued staff, players and fans and we look forward to working with all stakeholders in order to achieve a positive resolution in the New Year.

“We would finally ask all Shrimps fans and indeed the football fans of the town and wider community to please come and support Jim Bentley, the players and staff on Monday January 2 v Crewe, 3pm kick off.”

The board members present at the meeting were David Brockbank, Mark Dixon, Michael Hinchcliffe, Graham Howse, Rod Taylor, and chairman and former owner, Peter McGuigan.

Another director, Gary Taylor, was not in attendance but had seen and approved the statement.

According to Companies House, Mr Al Hashemi’s resignation became official on Wednesday.

His departure comes amidst growing calls from Shrimps fans for answers from Mr Lemos, a former football agent from Brazil.

Supporters’ concerns for the club’s future escalated since vice-chairman and longtime Shrimps fan Nigel Adams resigned from the board of directors on Tuesday.

Worried fans have contacted the English Football League (EFL) asking for help.

Mr Adams quit blaming a lack of communication and financial information from Mr Lemos.

This comes hot on the heels of staff being paid late in October and mounting speculation about the state of finances at Morecambe.

Manager Jim Bentley said the current situation was “the worst it’s been while I’ve been here” and said January would be “the biggest month in the club’s history...both on and off the pitch.”

One worried Morecambe supporter said: “Morecambe Football Club has to be run by Morecambe people.

“The club has struggled with the move from Christie Park to the Globe Arena. We need to get it back to being a family club again. We need to survive and live within our means.”

A spokesman for the EFL said: “There has been contact from Morecambe fans.

“We will respond to all questions on an individual basis as soon as we can.”

Mr Adams resigned on December 20 and a statement was posted on the Morecambe FC website explaining why he decided to quit.

He said: “Unfortunately, following the change of control in September 2016 I do not feel I have been given sufficient financial information from the majority shareholder (Mr Lemos) to allow me to perform my duties as a director and therefore it is appropriate for me to resign.

“In the absence of communication from the new owner and access to financial management information my position as a director has become untenable.

“Until the change of control I had enjoyed my time as a director immensely and I have given large amounts of my time and financial support to the football club.

“The team, staff and most of all the fans of Morecambe Football Club will always have a special place in my heart and I wish the club every success in the future.”

Mr Adams is the owner of Lancaster-based Omega Holidays, main sponsors of the club shirts and home terrace at the Globe Arena.

Upon resigning from the board, he said current sponsorship deals would remain in place but would not be renewed.

He also said he had taken the decision with “great regret”.

Mr Adams, a longtime Shrimps supporter, became vice-chairman in July 2014.

Omega Holidays signed a new three-year deal in July 2015 to sponsor the home terrace at the Globe Arena and are principal shirt sponsors for the current season.

Mr Lemos took a controlling stake in the club in September.

Shortly afterwards Mr Al Hashemi was appointed co-chairman alongside Mr McGuigan.

The resignations were the latest in a series of troubles to befall the Shrimps, who currently lie just two points above the relegation zone in League Two.

The latest Morecambe FC accounts show that the club lost £829,832 in the year to May 2015. Morecambe also had the lowest average home attendance in the Football League in 2015/16.

At the end of October, players and staff were paid their wages late. Mr Lemos said this was due to “cashflow problems”.

He also said this was a one-off and staff were paid on time in November.

“I want to stress that this is a short-term problem and assure fans that we have robust plans in place for the future of our great club,” he said at the time.

Also in November, the official Morecambe FC supporters club FCom (Fans’ Club of Morecambe) announced plans to form a Supporters Trust due to worries over the club’s future.

This would allow the supporters to have a greater say in how Morecambe FC is run.

A meeting was called and fans voted unanimously to move forward with plans for the trust.