THE race to buy Wrexham FC took yet another dramatic twist yesterday when former player Ashley Ward pulled out of contention.

Just five days ago, Mr Ward, now an established businessman, declared he was in the hunt to takeover the club.

But a statement released on Mr Ward’s behalf said: “Ashley Ward will not be furthering negotiations to acquire Wrexham AFC.

“For any future regime to succeed it will require the backing of the fans. A section of the supporters have been confused and disgruntled for a period of time and this legacy renders them unable to see beyond Mr Ward as a property developer.

“Mr Ward has no knowledge whatsoever of any individuals linked with former bids, and fundamental to the business plan originally put forward by him was the securing of The Racecourse ground as a long term asset of the football club.

“Mr Ward viewed the investment as the opportunity to work within football again and in Colin Poole had someone with incredible passion for the game alongside him.

“Both were prepared to invest time, money and effort into resurrecting the club’s fortunes but now feel that the hostile environment around the club is not conducive to realising those aims. Both wish the club every success in the future.”

In another development, London-based businessman Stephen Cleeve – who is submitting a bid to buy the club – has taken part in a question and answer session on fans website Red Passion.

Mr Cleeve talks about his business past, which includes outlining a previous eight-year-ban from being a company director.

He also talks about his proposals for the club, saying: “Clearly we need to increase revenues and reduce costs.

“Hospitality areas need to be upgraded and the commercial offering for corporate guests needs to be vastly improved. If we get this right we can raise prices in the corporate areas by giving a first class product that companies would be proud to be associated with. I would bring four top salesmen from London – for June and July – to hit the streets and bang on lots of doors.

“Wrexham has one of the largest industrial estates in Europe It’s a massive plus but we need to use it. We need a database of all fans so we can communicate with them, we need to set up affiliate marketing programmes which gives fans better deals and revenue going back into the club.

“The stadium needs to be used far more than a 25-day a year business, its close to the university and we should be running student nights and other events in the Centenary Club which also needs to be upgraded. I would bring in a facilities manager to sort out the best usage for the stadium of the existing facilities.”

He adds: “I would bring in four Wrexham FC partners. These companies would pay a chunk of money on an annual basis but they would be able to sell their products to supporters, have mascot opportunities for their staff, good advertising, seats at the game and real interactive sponsorship.

“Attendances need to rise and I would need to look at promoting the club far more actively in the community, this is something that fan groups could help with. The marketing director is going to look at every area and see if we can do things differently.

“The stadium needs to be promoted as a conference venue at events that organisers attend. We will also provide the catering for Crusaders and make a profit from this as well as receive a monthly rent from the rugby club.

“Clearly we need better management reports and a new chief executive officer would be responsible for bringing this in and running the club like a proper business. It needs to be self supporting as quickly as possible. It’s the only way to guarantee the club’s survival and make the club attractive to other investors.”

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