Monday, February 21, 2005

Gladwish doesn't appear to like the Welsh

Hereford United entertain Northwich Victoria in the Conference (GLS) Cup this evening. Already the cup has a checked history with its first sponsors going broke.

Then in stepped Victor Gladwish and his GLS company. A press release at the time gave the details:

Victor Gladwish, the benefactor of so many Non-League clubs already, has agreed to sponsor the National Conference Cup for the rest of the season.

Gladwish, the self-made millionaire who enjoys investing his wealth in grass roots football, is the new backer of the Football Conference's new league cup competition, which will now be called the GLS Cup.

The cup, which involved all 66 clubs from the three divisions of the Football Conference, was originally sponsored by the Carthium Group but was left seeking new backing when the company ran into financial problems in November.

After discussions with the Football Conference, the Non League Paper approached Victor Gladwish about sponsoring the competition for the remainder of the season, which he kindly agreed to do.

Gladwish said : "I am pleased to be able to help. This is a fine competition and I hope one of the clubs I sponsor, Crawley or Gravesend & Northfleet, can enjoy a really good run. I'd certainly have some fun passing the prize money across to them!

"People ask me why I want to spend my money in football. That's easy - there's no point in being the richest man in the graveyard."

However recently Gladwish made the headlines when it was revealed that a scheme of his to supply free football strips did not apply to Welsh sides.

Flint Town United applied for some shirts but as the following BBC report shows they were turned down.

"A Welsh football club which answered an advert by an English businessman offering free shirts was turned down because Wales "is a foreign country". Flint Town United secretary Michael Beech was shocked by emails sent from Surrey-based Victor Gladwish saying he did not sponsor "foreign" teams.

The company, Gladwish Land Sales, had advertised sponsorship of non-league teams in a football paper. Mr Gladwish said he did not do business in Wales.

Michael Beech, who took over as secretary of Cymru Alliance team Flint Town this season, had spotted the advert in the Welsh edition of the Non-League Paper offering home and away strips for one team from a league.

He emailed Mr Gladwish for more information but received the following reply:

"Sorry, we do not sell land in foreign countries so do not do footy teams in foreign countries."

Mr Beech replied: "Why, what country are you doing this offer in? We are in the UK."

He was stunned by Mr Gladwish's reply, which read: "UK ended when the Labour government made Wales independent.

"Thousands of soldiers died unifying the countries. We do not sell land in Wales. You have Welsh on your Land Registry documents and as an ex-soldier I object."

When Mr Beech pointed out Wales was British and followed British laws, he responded: "I am English and you are Welsh".

Mr Beech told BBC Wales: "I'm not annoyed by the fact he said no. If he had e-mailed me back and said you are not within our catchment area, that would have been fine.

"It's the way he was (attacking) the Welsh.

"We're not foreigners in Wales. We're as much a part of the UK as Horsham in Surrey [Gladwish Land Sales' base] is.

"I think other people would be annoyed about it and rightly so. It is an insult really.

"I have lived in Mold for 14 years. I was born in Chester but my house is not a little outpost of Chester. As far as I'm concerned, I live in Wales and I act like the Welsh."

Mr Gladwish, who has put about £1m into non-league football sponsorship, including the Conference League Cup, told the BBC it was "up to me who I give away things to, and I do not sell land in Wales."

He added: "Wales is in Europe and the [football] World Cup as a nation so either you are part of England or not, you cannot have it both ways.

"For the state of the union ask the Labour government - they created your assembly three years ago [the assembly was actually set up in 1999].

"Any further discussions and I will support UEFA and FIFA in expelling Wales from their competitions. Make your minds up."

Later the Non-League Paper decided to help Flint.

With the N-LP also supported financially by Gladwish, the paper has moved swiftly to defuse a potentially embarrasing row reported the Welsh Premier website.

"We understand Victor Gladwish's reasons for not wishing to help Flint, so we have decided to step in instead," said editor David Emery.

Flint will become the first club in either England or Wales to wear an N-LP strip and will change from their current black and white stripes to "a more modern look".

Last night Crawley Town, who happen to be sponsored by Gladwish, had John Robinson, a Welshman, as their MOTM in the game against Morecambe.

Meanwhile, should Hereford United win this Cup, how would Gladwish react when told he would be presenting the Cup to Tony James, who just happens to be Welsh!