Computer-game entrepreneurs set to win control of Everton

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The Independent Online

A GROUP of football fans, led by a computer-games entrepreneur and backed by a US private equity firm, is poised to acquire a controlling stake in Everton football club for £25m-£30m.

A GROUP of football fans, led by a computer-games entrepreneur and backed by a US private equity firm, is poised to acquire a controlling stake in Everton football club for £25m-£30m.

Peter Johnson, the former Everton chairman, is expected to sell his 68 per cent stake in the Premier League club to a consortium led by John Roberts and Paul Finnegan, respectively chairman and chief executive of the Liverpool-based games software company, Rage Software. One of its most successful products is the soccer game Striker. The consortium is being backed by Warburg Pincus, the US private equity firm which last year acquired the Jordan Formula One motor racing team for £40m.

The deal, expected to be completed in the next few weeks, will come as a blow to the theatrical impressario Bill Kenwright, Everton's vice-chairman, who has repeatedly attempted to buy the club. His last offer for Mr Johnson's stake is thought to have been pitched at around £20m.

Mr Johnson has been forced to sell his stake in Everton because he also has a controlling shareholding in the First Division club Tranmere Rovers. Football Association rules prevent two teams having the same owner.

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