Kenwright gives himself four days to save Everton

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Bill Kenwright last night gave himself four days to find backers for his regime at Everton or hand over control.

Bill Kenwright last night gave himself four days to find backers for his regime at Everton or hand over control.

The Everton chairman left a stormy two-and-a-half hour board meeting, admitting he was ready to walk away from running Goodison Park if he failed to come up with alternative funding for the club.

Friends of the theatrical impresario, such as the billionaire head of British Home Stores, Phillip Green and Tesco chief executive, Terry Leahy, have either been unable or unwilling to come to Everton's aid. This leaves the investment package proposed by Kenwright's former ally and now bitter enemy, Paul Gregg, as the only alternative.

Gregg, who failed to attend a single home game last season, has employed a PR agency to attack Kenwright in the Merseyside press to widen the gulf between himself and his former friend. Kenwright is incensed that one of Gregg's chief proposals to raise investment - a share issue to fans - was precisely the idea Gregg rejected two years ago.

However, Kenwright was a reluctant chairman when Sir Philip Carter was ousted four years ago and would quit if he judged the circumstances were right. Yesterday he said: "A personal vendetta has been waged against me by Paul Gregg. If standing down is needed to bring money into this club, then that is what will happen. I am totally irrelevant. All that matters is this club and the new season."

There are several potential takeover groups and it is possible that Everton's former chief executive, Trevor Birch, could return. Birch, whose resignation at the beginning of the month after six weeks in the job triggered the current crisis, spoke to several potential backers in his brief time at Goodison Park. He has the know-how and the ability to put together a takeover package.

The main hurdle any buyer faces is that they would want to buy the shares cheaply - or even take over a club that is around £40m in debt for nothing. However, despite the level of debt, it is manageable, especially with an asset such as Wayne Rooney for whom the club will accept no bid lower than £30m. That sum represents the loan the club took out, guaranteed on season-ticket sales, repayable at £2.8m per year. There is also a £5m bank overdraft.

Among the Merseyside millionaires with an interest, the smart money is on Mike McComb, who made his fortune in mobile phones, in an alliance with David McLean, who built up a housing empire. Both would want day-to-day involvement and unlike, Kenwright, who is based in London, they live in easy reach of Goodison Park; McComb in Ormskirk and McLean in north Wales.

Comments