Chairman to hand Orrell ownership to members

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The Independent Online

The Orrell owner, Dave Whelan, is to safeguard the future of the National League One club by handing it back, debt-free, to its members, according to chairman Maurice Lindsay.

Lindsay refuted reports yesterday which claimed Whelan will sell the club to the South African multi-millionaire Johann Rupert, who wants to relocate the club to Queen's Park Rangers' Loftus Road ground. According to the reports, Orrell would be renamed London Tribe and filled with big-name South Africans, including the former Springbok captain Bobby Skinstad.

In a statement, Lindsay said: "It is true we have had an approach from an agent in London and his solicitor, acting on behalf of a South African consortium, and we are aware we are not the only club they have approached. It would be totally wrong, however, to suggest that we are set to sell the Orrell club. On the contrary, we have started the construction of a new clubhouse following the fire which destroyed the old one a year ago."

Lindsay confirmed that Whelan, who also owns Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors, is prepared to relinquish the hold on the club he took over three years ago when it was in administration. "Dave Whelan is not motivated by money when it comes to sport," Lindsay added, "and there is absolutely no way that either of us would allow rugby to die in Orrell. Our objective will be the gift of the club back to the members. They will have the benefit of a new clubhouse and an absolutely debt-free club.

"In effect, they will have a clean sheet of paper with a £2m asset underpinning them. We feel satisfied that we have rescued the club from oblivion [and] got it back into a competitive situation and it is now up to both the local authority and the Orrell members to seize what we feel is a glorious opportunity."