Everton close in on Brunei cash boost

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The Independent Football

Everton are close to a potential £30m cash injection, the first £12.8m of which the club's chairman, Peter Kenwright, hopes will be in the club's bank account within 14 days.

Everton are close to a potential £30m cash injection, the first £12.8m of which the club's chairman, Peter Kenwright, hopes will be in the club's bank account within 14 days.

With his club third in the Premiership and facing Liverpool at home on Saturday with their biggest points lead over the Anfield side for 17 years, Kenwright has fought through a power struggle with the director Paul Gregg which is now little more than an uneasy truce, and he said yesterday: "I can't begin to think about a happy end to 2004 yet, because without a shadow of a doubt it has been the worst year of my life ... I want everything sorted for Evertonians and I want the money in the bank."

Kenwright had wanted to be able to announce to shareholders at Tuesday night's annual general meeting that the first instalment of cash from the Fortress Sports Fund - a Brunei-based trust - was already in the club's accounts. But that plan fell through, and the financier behind the scheme, the Geneva resident Chris Samuelson, flew in for the meeting and faced hostile questioning by shareholders who doubted his motives and sensed a potential takeover.

Samuelson wants to invest £12.8m for a 29.9 per cent stake in the club, with an option to increase his shareholding to 50.1 per cent for an additional £17.2m.

Kenwright said: "Obviously I am not an idiot, but you say 'where's the money, why isn't it in the bank?' "I have gone to Chris [Samuelson] and asked for the reasons, not the excuses, as to why the money is not parked in our bank account.

"We asked would the money be there so we could tell the shareholders, and I was told 'no' because of regulations. Then I asked. 'do you have the money in your bank?' - and I was told 'yes'. He said it would be a matter of six or seven days, and that's why we agreed to a 14-day extension."

Just before Tuesday's AGM, Kenwright announced that Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco, has been recruited as a special adviser to the club.

While Sir Terry, a lifelong fan, will not join the board, he has agreed to offer advice and attend about four meetings a year and will form "a close alliance" with Keith Wyness, the club's chief executive, who is "anxious to tap into the knowledge of one of the world's most respected retailers".

Meanwhile, Everton will open talks next week with Liverpool Council over the prospect of improving Goodison Park. This is a significant move despite the fact that the club are still fulfilling last week's request from Sports Minister Richard Caborn to have one final attempt to make a ground-share with Liverpool work. Kenwright has said he "would resign rather than be Liverpool's tenants."

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