Football: Kenwright's Everton goal

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The Independent Online
BILL KENWRIGHT is preparing to make a bid to buy Everton from the chief shareholder, Peter Johnson. The theatre impresario has been trying to put together the funds to buy former chairman Johnson's 68 per- cent holding in the club since last November.

In a statement Kenwright said: "I can confirm that over the weekend I have had what I hope are positive discussions with Peter Johnson regarding the major shareholding of Everton Football Club."

Kenwright, the club's vice-chairman, has has struggled to find city backers. Now it looks like he will formally make an approach to the financial advisors Arthur Andersen, who are brokering the deal for Johnson, early next week.

However, it is likely to be just the first shots in the battle. Johnson valued his holding at more than pounds 50m last year, and although share prices have dropped to under pounds 1,000 apiece, there could well be plenty of haggling to come. Kenwright could well test the water with a pounds 20m bid, which would leave Johnson with just pounds 1m profit on the pounds 19m he has put into the club.

The feeling from the Kenwright camp is that Johnson may be prepared to cut his price now he is trying to resolve the problem of joint ownership of Tranmere and Everton.

Graeme Souness has played down suggestions he is to lead a consortium to take control of Hearts. The former Rangers manager said the potential bid has stalled and he has no plans to resurrect the interest.

"There was a possibility of some very serious people getting involved in Hearts. I was asked if that was going to happen then would I be interested," Souness said. "I told them to come back to me when the people had done what they had to do but they didn't take the thing forward. My interest ended there."

Hearts' chief executive, Chris Robinson, said that the Edinburgh club have received no approach - and cast doubts on whether the technical director role that Souness was said to be in line for was needed.