Football: New bid for Everton

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THE MERSEYSIDE businessman Gerry White is heading a bid to buy Everton and take over from Peter Johnson. White is an old business associate of Johnson and has put together a pounds 15m package that may tempt the Goodison owner to sell part of his 68 per cent stake.

Sources close to Johnson think he would rather deal with White than Bill Kenwright, his old adversary who is claiming to have pounds 22m to offer for complete control. But Johnson has already rejected Kenwright's latest moves, stating that after Granada paid pounds 22m for just 9.9 per cent of Liverpool the theatre impressario's bid is simply not enough.

White has put his plan together in association with other leading wealthy fans of the club, producing an ambitious project that will later involve the Everton supporters. The main principles of the scheme are to include a major cash injection, to reduce Johnson's stake in the club and then ask the public to find money to buy shares in a future flotation.

Liverpool solicitors have also become involved after news of White's activity sparked Kenwright into action at the weekend.

White is a well-known figure on the Wirral and has been linked several times with buying a stake in Tranmere Rovers, Johnson's other club. The two men, in fact, share a number of similarities - White is also the managing director of a food company, Hurstwood Meats, and is heavily involved in the property market.

While White may find it easier to deal with Johnson than his competitors, there will be suspicion about his links with the owner among the Everton fans. However, White will reveal the rest of his "consortium" which apparently includes prominent names who are independent.

The reason that Johnson may be interested in this particular deal is that he can sell some of his shares and still maintain an interest in the club. As well as staying involved, the former chairman would also stand to gain if Everton were floated.

n The Everton striker Francis Jeffers, who had had a transfer request rejected by the club, has settled his differences with his manager at Goodison, Walter Smith, and will be included in the squad for the game against Aston Villa tonight.