Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mystery Man Key to Brentford Takeover

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mystery Man Key to Brentford Takeover

Article excerpt

Byline: RAOUL SIMONS

A MYSTERY investor holds the key to resolving the latest financial crisis at Brentford. The businessman, who sources describe as a "lapsed fan", has offered to provide the additional cash required for supporters' group Bees United to complete their takeover of the club.

Preferring not to have his identity revealed to the public until the deal is complete, the investor was today set to hold further talks with Brentford chairman Eddie Rogers.

It is understood the investor wants to become an independent director but plans to work with the supporters' trust to facilitate their takeover.

Bees United have been trying to turn Brentford into London's first professional club owned by the fans since Ron Noades quit as chairman in 2003. The major stumbling block, however, has been an astonishing debt of [pounds sterling]7million.

Noades, who built up part of the debt during his spell as manager, has agreed to let the supporters' trust have his 60 per cent shareholding for nothing - providing they take on responsibility for the borrowings, which include a [pounds sterling]4.5m Barclays bank overdraft.

But the bank must first be satisfied that the supporters' trust are capable of paying the annual interest payments - currently estimated to be around [pounds sterling]300,000 a year.

With the help of an interest-free [pounds sterling]1m loan from Noades, [pounds sterling]500,000 from Hounslow Council and pledges from supporters, Bees United are now close to securing enough to cash to drastically cut the overdraft, but this still may not be enough to appease the bank.

Ahead of the deal, a "whitewash" of the club's accounts is required to show that the business is viable and this is the source of the latest hitch in the takeover plans.

The club last month admitted that the directors' cashflow predictions for 2005/6 had been overly optimistic, forcing the budget to be rapidly recalculated ahead of the whitewash.

The original figures were based on the two previous seasons, when the club made ends meet through the sale of star player Paul Smith and a lucrative FA Cup run. …

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