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Port Vale in dispute with programme printer

Football News 24/7
The firm who produce Port Vale's match-day programme have threatened the club with legal action after claiming to have lost £24,000 this season. Milton Keynes-based Regal Sports Press signed a two-year contract in July to design and produce the Vale programme until the end of the 2012/13 season.

According to the local paper, The Sentinel, the firm agreed to pay Vale a fee of £20,000 per season for the right to produce the programmes, but now claims to have been left out of pocket because of what they say is misleading information provided by the club.

Again, according to the paper, Regal Sports calculated that Vale needed to sell a minimum of 1,000 programmes per home game at £3 each to start receiving a return on their investment.

They say the fee and their sales target were based on claims by Vale chief executive Perry Deakin that programme sales last season had generated a net turnover of £72,000.

However, according to Regal Sports, Vale are only shifting "400 to 500" programmes per game, meaning they have lost £1,500 on each of the 16 editions they have so far produced.

Regal Sports co-owner Peter Davies said: "Taking away an estimated £15,000 in advertising revenue, the club's average gate and what other clubs sell, we felt 1,000 sales per game was a conservative target.

"But after the deal was signed, club staff told me the most programmes they had sold over the past couple of seasons was 500.

"So if you look at the numbers, the £72,000 figure is grossly misrep­res­en­tative.

"We're losing money on production costs, added to things like the payment of sales commissions, distribution costs and potentially the full £20,000 fee.

"On top of that we also supply the club with 300 programmes free of charge.

"But we're a positive company and we want to support a community-based club like Vale and reach an amicable solution. That's why we're continuing to produce the programmes.

"And if we hadn't produced them the club would have been in breach of Football Association and Football League rules."

Regal Sports's solicitor sent a letter to the Vale board threatening legal action in December, but have yet to receive a response from the club.

Regal Sports, who also produce programmes for clubs including Peterborough United and Mk Dons, paid their first £6,500 fee installment shortly after the deal was struck.

But in the face of continuing losses they withheld paying the same amount on October 31 and the final installment of £7,000 which was due on Tuesday, January 31.

The contract, a copy of which has been seen by The Sentinel, confirms that Vale's £20,000 fee and the 1,000 sales target were based on "figures and statistics supplied by the club".

It also states that the fee for next season will be renegotiated if average sales fall below 1,000 sales or if Vale win promotion to League One.

Deakin sent a letter to Regal Sports co-owner Alan Corkhill on November 23 in which he insisted he "did not suggest or imply" a 1,000 sales target during negotiations.

Deakin also threatened legal action in the letter, adding: "The agreement clearly states that in the event that unit sales average less than the 1,000 per fixture, a reduced fee for 2012/13 will be agreed.

"There is absolutely no provision for you to withhold payments due to us for 2011/12.

"Please make payment to Port Vale immediately as per of our agreement.

"Failure to do so will result in legal action being taken against Regal Sports Press."

The dispute if nothing else illustrates once again the perilous state of the programme market - following the demise of Accrington based Naylor Press last month who published programmes for Burnley, Blackpool and Accrington. There is no doubt, talking to several clubs, that programme sales are on the decline. This is not just a price factor but the pressure from instant media replacing their function for many fans - especially the younger generation.

KT

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