Sven Goran Eriksson will walk away from Notts County unless the club finds wealthy new backers to fulfil "the five-year dream plan" that lured him to the banks of the Trent in the first place.
Eriksson, County's director of football, has no intention of putting any of his own money into the club. Reports that he will help to bankroll a mooted management buyout were described by a friend of the former England manager last night as "total and utter rubbish".
County's future is in the balance after their owners, Munto Finance – which took over control of the club from its supporters' trust in the summer – put them up for sale.
Munto Finance is a subsidiary of Qadbak Investments Ltd, a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands and controlled by persons unknown. Qadbak's shaky track record includes a failed recent plan to buy the BMW Formula One team.
Peter Trembling, County's chief executive, is looking for finance so he can lead a management buyout, but Eriksson will not be funding any part of it and will not remain involved at County unless replacement funds are found.
"Sven has been let down very badly in all of this," a source close to the situation said. "He's been let down by Munto, who have failed to deliver on their promises, and he has been let down by people who have investigated the ownership and said it was fine."
The latter comment was a reference to the Football League, which gave County's owners a provisional clean bill of health. Ongoing investigations to ascertain whether the ultimate owners would pass the League's "Fit and Proper Person" test continue. Contrary to reports, the League has set no deadline for Munto or Qadbak's ultimate backers to prove their credentials.
"Sven did not go to County for money, he went because he was attracted by the proposition of the five-year dream plan of taking a club from the bottom of the fourth division to the Premier League," a source said. "That plan was based on supposed guarantees of funding and those guarantees have not been met.
"He will not be putting his own money into it. Why the hell would he want to put his own money into something that would probably fail without the full financial backing that was promised? Neither is he interested in hanging around unless the resources are found to maintain the plan as it was originally sold to him."
Eriksson will consider staying if Trembling or another party takes control quickly and proves beyond doubt that there are resources available to continue a realistic attempt to climb the leagues.
County's resources were thrown into doubt earlier this year after they signed Sol Campbell and the former England centre-half walked out after one game, saying promises had not been kept. Campbell is known to have had doubts that money was available to buy the players that had been promised and improve the club's facilities. Eriksson expressed disappointment at the time that Campbell had left, but now realises Campbell was right to have doubts.
Eriksson's deal at County is worth £2m a year but he could earn more elsewhere. If he leaves County he will consider an offer to manage North Korea at next year's World Cup.
County's manager, Hans Backe, who was brought in by Eriksson to replace the sacked Ian McParland earlier this season, said he thought Eriksson would stay; but that statement was made more in hope than expectation that new funds will be found. "This has been the biggest challenge for him – to build a team from League Two and take it forward – so I don't think Sven will leave," Backe said.
Backe also feels, proposed new owners will not affect his position at the club or have an impact on the field. "If new owners are coming in then we will have to see what happens," he said. "It was only [yesterday] that I have seen headlines since I have been involved and if you look at the players and the way they train I don't think it has affected them."
Overhaul and uncertainty: Notts County's hectic six months
4 June 2009 Munto Finance, a Middle Eastern business consortium owned by Qadback Investements and fronted by Peter Trembling and Peter Willett, announce they have agreed to purchase the League Two outfit.
30 June The Supporters' Trust, who own a majority 60 per cent share of club, vote in favour of the takeover.
14 July Takeover is confirmed, with Peter Trembling appointed as the chief executive.
21 July Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson is appointed Director of Football.
14 August Kasper Schmeichel joins in a £1.5m club record deal.
25 August The former England defender Sol Campbell signs a five-year contract.
19 September Campbell finally makes his debut, in a 2-1 defeat at Morecambe.
22 September Campbell walks out – his contract is cancelled by mutual consent.
12 October Manager Ian McParland leaves Meadow Lane with the club fifth in the division and just four points from the top. The youth team manager Michael Johnson and assistant Dave Kevan are installed as joint caretaker managers.
20 October Football League rules that County's new owners have passed 'fit and proper persons' regulations, despite the club structure being 'complicated' and having 'both offshore entities and discretionary trusts'.
27 October Hans Backe, Eriksson's former assistant at Manchester City, is confirmed as new manager.
27 November Football League reopens inquiries into club's ownership.
Yesterday Eriksson denies intentions to purchase the club.Reuse content