Town Takeover Close
Friday, 26th Feb 2021 15:05
TWTD understands Town’s US-backed takeover could happen as soon as next month.
As reported yesterday, speculation regarding a takeover at Portman Road has been circulating for a couple of weeks but is more advanced than has previously been suggested.
We understand the deal which would see the club change hands to a US-based group is worth £30 million.
Current owner Marcus Evans, who is set to write-off his debt, which will now have climbed to around £100 million, is understood to be keeping a five per cent stake in Town, presumably so he could potentially profit from a future sale if and when the Blues reach the Premier League.
It’s also believed that Evans will keep hold of some of the training ground, some or all of the Bent Lane side of the facility, with development having long been eyed for a small section of the field between already existing housing close to the road.
The ownership of that part of the training ground was transferred to another Evans company, London & Merchant Properties Limited, previously known as Marcus Evans (Guernsey) Ltd, in 2011 largely for tax reasons.
While Brett Johnson, from Phoenix Rising and FC Tucson, has entered the spotlight after following Town’s Twitter account in recent days, we understand the 51-year-old is just one of a number of investors.
TWTD understands that much of the cash will come from the pension fund for the fire and police services of a so-far unnamed US state.
Bristol City chief executive Mark Ashton has been strongly linked with the same role at Town as part of the takeover, and Robins head of operations/club secretary Luke Werhun is also believed to be wanted by the new set-up. However, there is no confirmation that either will be leaving Ashton Gate.
It’s believed that the consortium will look to bring in a new manager with The Athletic reporting that Paul Cook will be the man to replace current boss Paul Lambert.
Cook, 54, has been out of work since resigning from Wigan Athletic in the summer, having previously had spells in charge of Southport, Sligo, Accrington, Chesterfield and Portsmouth.
TWTD reported in January that Cook had been sounded out by Evans about taking over at Town should there be a vacancy.
Compensation will be due to the Latics' administrators with Cook still in contract with the Lancastrians when he departed.
Lincoln boss Michael Appleton was believed to be a target having previously worked at Oxford United with Ashton and Mike O’Leary, who along with Johnson is a director of Gamechanger 20, a company which was formed last year and is believed to be the vehicle for facilitating the takeover. Ashton is not among the directors.
However, Appleton yesterday signed a new four-year deal with the Imps and may have been less keen to move on from the division’s second-placed side even prior to penning his new contract.
Also among the directors of Gamechanger 20 is Berke Bakay, principal owner, governor and co-chairman of Phoenix Rising, who made his money from Kona Grill, a restaurant chain.
Like Ashton, O'Leary, who appears to be the driving force behind the consortium, has a background at West Brom having been the chief executive officer at the Hawthorns for two years in the early 2000s.
The takeover, which is not yet signed and sealed, would see a summer of great change at Portman Road, both on the field and off it.
Photo: Matchday Images
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