Football: Johnson favourite to take over at Everton: Tranmere transfer

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The Independent Online
EVERTON could be under new ownership by Christmas after Peter Johnson, the chairman of First Division Tranmere, yesterday formalised his pounds 10m takeover offer and declared his ambition to restore past glories to the ailing Merseyside club.

The businessman with a personal fortune in excess of pounds 65m has had talks with the family of the late Sir John Moores, who own 40 per cent of Everton's shares, and arranged for his vice-chairman, Frank Corfe, to take over his interest in Tranmere.

The shareholding would cost an estimated pounds 5m while Everton's debts currently run in excess of pounds 4m. Nevertheless, Johnson describes the opportunity as 'too good to miss' and will devote himself to the Goodison cause. 'If Everton were to be as successful as I hope and could start winning trophies again, I believe they could generate as much money as Manchester United have done,' he said. 'Mine would be a hands-on involvement. I don't think you can run a big club without that.'

The Everton director and theatre impresario, Bill Kenwright, has attempted to put together a consortium to buy control but Johnson is the firm favourite. Defeat at home to Newcastle last Saturday dropped Everton to 15th in the Premiership amid escalating terrace discontent.

Earlier this month Howard Kendall resigned as manager when efforts to strengthen his squad met opposition from inside the boardroom. With Johnson's cash injection the vacancy assumes greater prominence and appeal. Under consideration to succeed him are Bobby Robson, Joe Royle and Mike Walker, Terry Yorath too should he fail agreea new contract with Wales.

A potential new chairman of Manchester City has had second thoughts. Michael McDonald decided to turn his interest elsewhere after the Maine Road board failed to respond inside the deadline to his offer to purchase a controlling interest.

The race for the England job took a new turn yesterday when Jimmy Armfield, the headhunter appointed by the Football Association, said they might be prepared to wait until next summer to secure the man they want. He confirmed that Terry Venables was on his shortlist along with three or four others and has had two hours of talks with the Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson. With Wilkinson again ruling himself out of the managerial position, their discussions are likely to have centred on a new role as a supremo possibly working in tandem with a young assistant such as Ray Wilkins or Bryan Robson. The Leeds chairman, Leslie Silver, says if approached he would not stand in Wilkinson's way.

Queen's Park Rangers are to continue their attempts to have the one-match ban on Les Ferdinand set aside after the referee, Vic Callow, refused to change his mind over his controversial sending-off at Liverpool two weeks ago, when the England striker was sent off for kicking the ball away, although he claims not to have heard the whistle.

Barry Fry, the new Birmingham manager, is waiting to hear whether his previous club, Southend, will accept a bid for the striker Brett Angell. Fry is also awaiting Stoke's response to a proposed swap between the Birmingham keeper Kevin Miller and striker Dave Regis.

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