Football: Kenwright secures pounds 20m Everton takeover

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BILL KENWRIGHT, the Everton vice-chairman, has finally completed a pounds 20 million deal to take over the club - pounds 30m less than Peter Johnson's original asking price for his 68 per cent shareholding. Kenwright, who tied up the agreement late on Christmas Eve after several days of protracted negotiations with Johnson, now has until 25 January to complete the formalities, beginning with a thorough audit of the club's accounts immediately after the holiday period. The deal will value the entire club at around pounds 30m.

Kenwright has opted not to join forces with any of the rival consortiums which have shown interest in the club and has stuck with his own financial backers. They are believed to include Phillip Green, who recently sold his Sports Division group and is currently said to be involved in the move to take over Marks and Spencer.

An Everton spokesman said: "Bill Kenwright has received an irrevocable undertaking from AIB Trust Company (Jersey) Limited, the trustees of the Peter Johnson Family Settlement, in respect of 23,725 shares representing approximately 68 per cent of the stock units of Everton Football Club Company Ltd, the club in issue. Implementation of the undertaking is subject to a general cash offer for all stock units in issue, at not less than pounds 857 per unit being announced according with rule 2.5 of the City code on takeovers and mergers, by not later than 25 January 2000. Such an offer is subject to formal due diligence which will commence shortly. Bill Kenwright already holds 556 units representing 1.6 per cent of all stock."

Everton fans are sure to be in triumphant mood at today's home clash with Sunderland. Kevin Nolan, the shareholders spokesman, said: "This is a great Christmas present for all Everton fans. The news is fantastic that Peter Johnson is now going. It has taken Bill Kenwright a very long time to get to this stage but he has the support of all Evertonians."