Gregg lays down £20m truce terms at Everton

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Paul Gregg, the rebel director of Everton, has vowed to back the Premiership football club's chairman, Bill Kenwright, in a move that could bring peace and £20m of fresh cash to the club.

Paul Gregg, the rebel director of Everton, has vowed to back the Premiership football club's chairman, Bill Kenwright, in a move that could bring peace and £20m of fresh cash to the club.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Gregg said he hoped that matters would be resolved in "the next week or so", bringing to an end 18 months of wrangling over the future of Everton.

Mr Gregg, who made his £150m fortune from cinemas, joined with Mr Kenwright, a theatre impresario, to take a majority stake in Everton in 2001. The duo fell out over the future direction of the club last year, but their disagreements surfaced only three months ago.

However, Mr Gregg said that he was now willing to back his old friend if he delivered a promised £20m investment. Mr Gregg said this would give the club a base from which to go forward. The five-year plan would involve hiring a new chief executive, probably someone from outside football. The previous chief executive, former Leeds United boss Trevor Birch, resigned last month.

Mr Gregg said the aim would then be to build up the revenues of the club from the current £45m a year to around £65m, to back a new youth academy and move to a new stadium. He said he hoped a deal could be done to share the new ground with Everton's arch rivals, Liverpool. This would be made easier by £45m of regional development money that would be released for a joint stadium.

"This is a great club, a great tradition and it needs better than has been delivered in the past," he said.

Fans have attacked Mr Gregg for failing to turn up to Everton games last season. He admitted this was a mistake. Business commitments in the United States had kept him away for some of the time, but "it was probably my fault. I was frustrated. I should have gone to more games."

Mr Gregg said running a football club was different to other businesses. "You might own the club, but it's not yours. You share it with 50,000 fans," he said.

Everton's finances had been hit hard by its poor form at the end of last season, which Mr Gregg estimates cost the club £7.5m. It would take a strong commitment from all involved to turn it around, he said. "From the directors to the chief executive to the manager and the players, the marketing people and cleaners, it is all our responsibility to do our best for Everton to be successful."

Mr Gregg sold his Apollo Management chain of cinemas, theatres and concert venues to US group SFX for £129m in 1999. He bought the cinemas back for £23m last year.

With his wife, Nita, he is now building up the chain. He will open a luxury cinema in London's West End next week which will offer VIP facilities, including stadium seating, widescreen technology and a licensed bar.

The five-screen cinema, with a maximum capacity of 550, is part of a £50m development by property group Chelsfield.

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