Dyke on verge of improbable move from the Beeb to Bees

The ex-BBC chief will be Brentford's new chairman if fans complete a takeover. Glenn Moore reports
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The Independent Online

Greg Dyke is on the brink of completing an unlikely, if geographically short, move from the Beeb to the Bees. The former director-general of the BBC is set to be installed as Brentford's non-executive chairman if and when the supporters complete a club takeover.

This may be as early as this morning but members of Bees United, the supporters' trust, spent yesterday locked in negotiation with Ron Noades who owns the club through his company, Altonwood. Noades is prepared to sell his 60 per cent stake in the League One club if the fans can convince him they are capable of securing the funding to make it a going concern.

In a statement on the Trust's website, Brian Burgess, the chairman of Bees United, said: "The final negotiations and legal drafting are continuing in an intense effort to complete the deal but it is not yet finalised and it may well be delayed. The deadline to complete the acquisition of the majority shareholding is the end of January but it will be in the club's best interest to refinance the overdraft as soon as possible. As always there are some outstanding issues to be resolved and it remains to be seen whether those that have arisen in the past few days are more serious than we thought."

Dyke is not involved in the talks but has agreed to act as the club's titular figurehead if the takeover succeeds. He has also made a contribution to the fund-raising effort.

Noades, who through Altonwood still owns Selhurst Park, took over the club in the summer of 1998. He initially managed the club himself, albeit with considerable input from Ray Lewington, leading them to promotion. In 2002 he gave the supporters' trust two years, later extended, to find the money to take control. Bees United has since raised close to £1m. Among the fund-raising efforts have been a sponsored bike ride which featured Martin Allen, the club's manager, and regular bucket collections at home games which have yielded more than £75,000.

Noades is expected to receive £2 for his stake, but Bees United will assume the club's £4.5m overdraft. This, and the immediate running costs, are to be covered by the £1m raised, a £2.5m bank loan, a £500,000 loan from Hounslow Council, and a £1m interest-free loan from Altonwood. However, supporter representatives yesterday stressed that the fund-raising effort would have to go on. The debt needs servicing and the club is struggling to break even on a day-to-day basis.

The long-term plan is to sell Griffin Park for housing and move to a new ground. A measure of short-term salvation may lie in promotion but Allen's thin squad is depleted by injury and suspension.

This will be Dyke's second involvement in football at board level, he was previously a director at Manchester United. However, he has long been associated with Brentford. His family lived locally and his brother was a junior at the club. He still lives close enough to walk to Griffin Park and often watches games. There is, he has noted, "no conflict of interest in supporting both Brentford and Manchester United".

The clubs last met in a First Division match in April 1947, five weeks before Dyke was born.

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