Caterham’s crowdfund worked; 230 employees are fired

While we were reporting that Caterham F1 had achieved 80% of their Crowdfunding goal and announced they would be going to Abu Dhabi, the team were quietly handing 230 employees pink slips.

Now this sound dire, and it is, but the team hasn’t been paid since September 30th and if memory serves correctly, I thought the crowdfunding was going to be used for salaries in arrears. I have not read any reports as to if the pink slip was accompanied with a paycheck.

Administrators, Smith & Williamson, say they have a team of 40 dedicated people who will accompany them to Abu Dhabi to run the program and many suggest that the reason for attendance at all is to secure monies owed to them within the Formula One Management pay-out program for last year’s 10th place. They have to still be competing in the championship in 2014 in order to get these funds.

Administrator spokesman, Finbarr O’Connell, said:

“It is a crazy situation but the most ironic thing is that the majority of the team were pressing me to make them redundant so their redundancy claim forms could be up and running while I try to sell the team. If I sell the team they will be re-employed by the purchaser and those claim forms will effectively be ripped up.”

That is “crazy” and wacky, Finbarr. However, former team aerodynamicist, Jim McManus, said:

“It is dismaying to see the amount of publicity surrounding the success of the crowdfunding on the same day that the entire workforce was made redundant while owed seven weeks’ salary. The cynic in me would suggest that the two are not unrelated, and the good news has served as a convenient opportunity to bury the bad news. Some actively indicated that they did not want to be made redundant.”

Caterham made sure they quickly announced what the Crowdfunding was to be used for when they hastily posted a news article on their site stating the funds would be used for salaries in arrears but I am not seeing that article on their site this morning.

I’ve argued for quite a while that I think Tony Fernandes is at the core of the issue and the way in which he handled the entire situation. It was frustrating for me, as a fan, to watch he and Mike Gascoyne quietly remove themselves from the team and leave it adrift. The threats to do better or else came even before the 2014 season began from Fernandes and then the mysterious new owners—Swiss and Middle Eastern—that no one could name were introduced with Colin Kolles involved. What a sad mess.

The whole thing sounds preposterous and while Fernandes is having a ball with his new football team, Caterham employees haven’t been paid since September and are now made redundant (I assume the administrators are correct and that the money raised in Crowdcube will be used to pay salaries in arrears). Thanks Tony, this fan really enjoyed supporting your team and getting behind your effort only to take a pie to the face. Let this be a caution to the Queens Park Rangers fans of what they might expect should Tony become soured by your club’s performance. Perhaps he’ll cobble together some paper buy-out with a group of loosely-tied buyers held together by some bank debt vehicle in order to walk away from the club.

Hat Tip: The Guardian but a full copy of the McManus letter can be found at Joe’s site here.

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