Football: Noades invited to return to Palace

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The Independent Online
TWO RIVAL consortiums that have been bidding to take control of Crystal Palace are now working on a combined plan to save the club and bring back the former owner, Ron Noades.

"Ron would always be welcome at Selhurst Park and both consortiums would dearly like to see him back," a source close to one of the consortiums, said yesterday. "Palace are not the only club who might like to have him and it might be difficult to get him, but both consortiums have asked him to come back in a senior role."

It is understood that Noades has been asked to return primarily to take charge of the business side of the club, but with some input to the playing side. Steve Coppell would be asked to stay on as the main coach, working alongside Noades, who has held a coaching badge for over 20 years.

Noades, who sold Palace for pounds 22.8m to Mark Goldberg last year, still owns Palace's Selhurst Park ground. He became the owner-chairman-manager of Third Division Brentford and guided them to promotion at the first attempt in May. If Noades takes a stake in Palace and a place on the board, he would have to sell Brentford to avoid a conflict of interests and to abide by Football League rules.

Goldberg took Palace into administration earlier this year with debts of pounds 20m and has since stepped down as the chairman. He has since brought together a so-called "City" consortium to bid for the club, made up of a variety of businessmen whose businesses range from property to textiles. They had a pounds 10.6m offer for the club accepted in July but it is understood that they have not paid any more than an initial downpayment of pounds 250,000 to secure their bid. A further pounds 750,000 payment was expected in August but did not materialise.

A rival consortium, the so-called "directors" consortium, which is being led by Simon Hume-Kendall (who actually resigned as a Palace director three weeks ago), has been waiting on the sidelines and has been brought back into discussions by Palace's administrator, Simon Paterson, this week.

"What we're really haggling over now are the legal complexities that need to be sorted out to allow us to reach a sensible conclusion [to a joint bid] and ensure the future of Crystal Palace," a source close to negotiations said.

It is understood that if the joint bid, worth about pounds 12m, is agreed, an offer will be put to Palace's creditors in the first half of next month. If accepted, around pounds 7m will go to creditors with pounds 5m available for players.