Move to replace Wembley chairman

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The Independent Online
A GROUP of former directors of Wembley, owner of the famous stadium, is bidding to oust Sir Brian Wolfson, Wembley's chairman. The group is led by David Griffiths, chief executive until 1988.

The former directors claim the support of Phillips & Drew Fund Management, which has 18 per cent of Wembley's shares, though the fund manager has yet to confirm its backing.

The group believes that Wembley, whose shares have tumbled from 100p two years ago to 15 1/2 p, needs yet another refinancing of its pounds 140m of debts. Wembley, which revealed pounds 12m of losses on Thursday, raised pounds 37m in a rights issue last year at 30p a share.

Barclays, Wembley's lead banker, has been approached by the consortium to back a plan that would involve a debt for equity swap.

However, Sir Brian claims he can rely on support from Abdul Aziz al-Sulaiman, a new Saudi shareholder, in fighting off any bid to oust him.

'I can rely on 25 per cent of the shares without even including other friends who hold shares,' Sir Brian said. The Wembley boss personally controls about 6 per cent, the sheikh's Luxembourg company, Rolaco, owns 11 per cent and United Dutch Group, which recently sold part of its original holding to Rolaco, retains nearly 8 per cent.

Despite the slump into the red, Sir Bryan maintains net assets are still pounds 176m against a current stock market value of just pounds 40m.

(Photograph omitted)