Kenwright finds 'mystery' investor to tune of £20m

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has arranged £20m of new investment for the club which will win the war for control of Goodison Park that has been waged with director Paul Gregg.

The Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has arranged £20m of new investment for the club which will win the war for control of Goodison Park that has been waged with director Paul Gregg.

Gregg, an Oxford-based millionaire, had challenged Kenwright to match the investment he was proposing, or stand down. The boardroom uproar had plunged the club into chaos.

Now Kenwright, with his team facing champions Arsenal on Sunday, believes he has won the showdown with his fellow director after securing the backing of a mystery investor.

Kenwright has been faced with calls to stand down from Gregg, who has claimed he has £15million of his own backing to take control of the club, but only if Kenwright quits.

On the eve of the new Barclays Premiership season, Kenwright has found an unnamed backer willing to take a major shareholding in the club.

Everton are between £30m and £40m in debt, and Moyes has found it virtually impossible to attract quality players because of the uncertainty hanging over the Merseysiders.

Moyes has had to jettison 17 players from the wage bill since the last transfer window and Kenwright's camp claim that a vast amount of the money will go to him for much-needed team strengthening. The rest will be used to calm the club's bankers who have warned that Everton will not be allowed to extend their current £6m overdraft.

The investor's identity is being kept secret, but Kenwright has battled for three weeks to find money to avoid having to relinquish control of the club he has supported since boyhood and make way for Gregg.

A statement from Kenwright read: "Bill Kenwright, chairman of Everton FC, confirms that he has received formal confirmation of an offer for £20m of new investment into the club via a new share issue. The club bankers have received evidence of the availability of funds. Due diligence begins on Monday, August 16 and will be completed within a week."

That means the new investor will be allowed to scrutinise Everton's books and make other legal and financial checks.

Kenwright has been linked with US investors as well as Philip Green, the billionaire who recently tried to buy Marks & Spencer. But whoever the new investor is, £20m of new shares will be issued and the club's valuation will jump from £30m to £50m, with Kenwright no longer the company's major shareholder.

It is certain that the theatre impresario will be asked to continue as chairman and that Gregg will be marginalised. Gregg, who has £7m of his own family money in the club, issued his own statement which read: "I have been saying for the past 12 months that True Blue Holdings needs to be disbanded and the club constitution changed to attract new investment. This move to turn TBH shares into Everton shares is welcome, and I welcome new investment into the club."

Tom Canon, a leading member of the shareholders' association, said: "I know he has been working very hard for some weeks to pull this together. I do not believe it is just one investor but a consortium of several well-off Everton fans from all over the world."

Comments