The Ford’s Colony Country Club Membership Voices a Clear Opinion

More information on the Ford’s Colony Country Club Bankruptcy case:

At the last hearing in the matter on November 17, 2010,  Judge St. John requested to hear from the Fords’ Colony Country Club members. (Referring to this previously publicly silent group as the “elephant in the room”) In response, the members have rallied and the Country Club Members Association “CCMA” (composed of members of the Ford’s Colony Country Club Association) has spoken through a position paper released by their attorney Tarley Robinson PLC.  The position paper was delivered on January 4, 2011 to the 3 firms representing debtor, secured creditor and the creditors committee. For clarification, CCMA is recognized by the Ford’s Colony Country Club (FCCC) as an ‘Advisory Board’.  FCCC has agreed that CCMA will represent the members of FCCC in an advisory role.

At the outset of their paper, CCMA states that they are not advocating for any one party in the bankruptcy case.  Rather their interest is in the ‘continued operation of the club’. They do state that they (CCMA) have ‘been very supportive of the Club’ while the bankruptcy case has played out.  

Their paper outlines the following as opinions on what should be a result of the bankruptcy filing:

  •  A multi-year plan that is “Financially and operationally viable and reflects a high probability of success… .based on prudent and sound assumptions that are realistic and attainable.”  They are asking for balances sheets and statements of cash flow.  They are asking for a contingency plan and strategies to offset potential downsides to the plan as well as a multi-year Capital Expenditure plan to “address issues identified by the current ownership relative to the need to invest several million dollars in the golf courses and supporting facilities.”
  • Within the plan should be the establishment of a new and separate legal entity that is totally divorced and separated from all future Ford entities.  The current leasing of the parking lot (from another Ford entity) must be disclosed and “included within an arm’s length agreement.”
  • An “oversight” committee will be established to “provide complete financial transparency and trust with the membership”. The committee would include club management and CCMA representative.  Included in this agreement (and a part of the plan’s approval) would be that no cash or other assets would be transferred from MHGC (or a successor entity) to any  “Ford family entity  or to owners of officers of any Ford entity”.
  • The Club must be operated according to industry best practices as articulated by the Club Managers Association of America. (CMAA)
  • Since there have not been tax returns filed by FCCC/MHGC for the past 2 years, the plans must include a disclosures of any potential or impending tax liabilities. Any current or past tax liability must be addressed by the current ownership and may not be passed onto the new legal entity.
  • The members state and address the fact that the current dues paid by Ford’s Colony members are the highest for any semi-private club in the area and warn that a plan that includes further increases in dues with more than likely cause membership to decline.
  • All current benefits that club members currently enjoy must be maintained.

In a nutshell, while the members have been supporting current ownership, they don’t want to be confused as advocating only for current ownership.  They feel that in the future they want accountability and a strong plan for the next few years, a separation from the Ford family and all of their entities, and for the Club to be operated in the best interests  of the supporting members according to the best practices established by the Club Managers Association of America. They would like for any past and current tax liabilities to be properly dealt with and remedied by the current ownership and no liability pushed onto new Management (or onto current and future members).  They also warn against any increase in dues or an elimination of current benefits.

CCMA has issued a very strong and clear opinion. Well done. We will now see what effect this opinion has on the outcome of the hearings.

 

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