Unwanted attention

Some 500,000 new businesses are launched in the UK every year, but the recently-formed Bradford City Limited is one to prick the ears of everyone with claret and amber matters close to their heart.

Bradford City Limited was registered with Companies House on Wednesday 8 June 2011 – six days before businessman Steve Parkin told the Yorkshire Post his desire to purchase Bradford City Football Club from current joint owners Julian Rhodes and Mark Lawn. The publically available documents list Marc Feldman as the new company’s only director and his own company, Harkers Associates Limited, owning 100% shareholdings.

Previously, the club’s company name was Bradford City Football Club Limited. Following the agreement to buy the Valley Parade offices, ownership of the club was transferred to a newly formed company, BC Bantams Limited.

There is no stated link whatsoever between Feldman and Parkin, or the club’s current Board members, but the timing of this new company’s registration and choice of name would hint of some relationship between Feldman and the prospective investor.

Which would be hugely worrying if so. Newspaper reports from August 2010 reveal that Feldman received a 12-month jail sentence – suspended for two years – for a £159,000 fraud, with health and family problems saving him and his business partner from serving time. Information on Harkers Associates Limited is slim to non-existent.

Is there any reason to be concerned? Probably not, after all the words ‘Bradford’ and ‘City’ are hardly exlusive to the football club. One might like to think that Feldman’s actions in setting up Bradford City Limited are something Parkin, Lawn and Rhodes would be unaware of or – if they are – do not see as a concern.  But recent amendments to laws on similar company names (made April 2011) do suggest that Bradford City Limited would require permission from the football club in order to use it.

According to Chapter 8 of Companies House’s guidelines – Objections to Company Names:

You could be required to change your company name after incorporation if: the name is ‘too like’ an existing name on the index…In general a name is ‘too like’ an existing name if: the differences are so trivial the public are likely to be confused by the simultaneous appearance of both names on the index; and/or the names look and sound the same.”

There is an exception to the rule:

The ‘same as’ rule will not be applied in the following circumstances: that the proposed company will be part of the same group as an existing company; the existing company consents to the registration of the proposed name; the application to register includes a letter/statement from the existing company which confirms its consent to the incorporation of the new company name and that it will form part of the same group.”

Of interest to this situation is ‘opportunistic registration’:

Opportunistic registration is the term applied to a company or LLP which registers a similar name to one in which another person has goodwill.  There is no restriction on who can complain.”

So City’s Board and/or Parkin could have cause to complain about this new company, or there could be some connection with the increased likelihood that the club ownership will be altered soon – either with Parkin joining Lawn and Rhodes or buying City outright. BfB has no reason to believe the latter is true, and would not claim otherwise.

If Feldman has no connection with this football club – at present or at any time in the future – let us consider this article to be a load of gibberish from a handful of over-concerned supporters. If, however, a convicted fraudster has some interest in the Bantams, let those who he has conversed with speak up to explain what is going on.

BfB would prefer to look foolish in raising these concerns than to have cause to feel genuinely concerned.