Wrexham FC takeover negotiations put on hold

Reporter:

Lois Hough

NEGOTIATIONS for a takeover of Wrexham FC have been put on hold yet again.

And in a message to fans, businesswoman Stephanie Booth has admitted her efforts to buy the club have “got more twists and turns than EastEnders” and have been akin to a “game of Chinese whispers”.

Negotiations between Mrs Booth and club owner Geoff Moss have been “temporarily suspended” after the would-be purchaser revealed financial dealings relating to the club on social networking site Facebook.

The hotelier, who is working towards a joint bid with Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) to buy the club, says she has done all she possibly can to complete the purchase and matters now rest with Mr Moss.

Yesterday Mr Moss said he was under instruction from lawyers not to comment to the media.

In a statement, Mrs Booth said she has been asked by bosses to pay wages and debts but to do so would be “sheer madness” without ownership of the club.

She said she would be “negotiating blindly” unless up-to-date financial records were provided by the club.

“Although I have a proven record of turning around loss-making businesses, I have always known the financial position I am starting from and in this case I still do not have a clue,” the statement read.

“Both the WST and myself have acted at all times in good faith and with the best interests of Wrexham Football Club in mind, but until they supply us with the accurate detailed financial information as requested neither of us can proceed to finalise our joint offer.”

However WST chairman Richard Owen said Mr Moss had given them “full access” to the club’s accounts. “As far as I understand Mr Moss has agreed to share the information with our professional advisers, BDO.

“We have had some positive discussions with the owners and we are progressing with our due diligence, which is also going well.

“Talks with Stephanie are also progressing. We expect to present a report in two weeks time.”

Club chiefs suspended negotiations with Mrs Booth after she posted on Facebook that the club was on the brink of administration.

Mrs Booth later told the Leader: “I’ve bought and sold many companies in my time but this has got more twists and turns than EastEnders.

“It has been very difficult to do this deal in the glare of the public. It’s like a game of Chinese whispers.”

Club directors said they were “disappointed” by “damaging” allegations by Mrs Booth, which were “totally without foundation”.

On Friday they met the WST board to consider the next move and called on fans to give their full support to manager Dean Saunders ahead of an important week of fixtures.

A club statement read: “Every business has its problems and no-one likes them to be aired in public.

“The club’s monthly debtors and creditors list currently has a fairly neutral position and it might surprise a few that the debtors outweigh the creditors.

“We currently have a creditors issue with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) due to the zero tolerance they have taken with all football clubs following some recent high profile cases.

“Negotiations continue to resolve this matter, which we hope will be decided over the coming weeks.”

The statement added: “The team is the most important thing on the agenda at present.”

The claims and counter-claims are just the latest in the ongoing saga over the proposed purchase of Wrexham FC.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that former Premiership player Ashley Ward, who started his career at Wrexham FC, was in talks to buy the club before he withdrew his bid.

Businessman Stephen Cleeve has also outlined his interest to fans on the Red Passion website.

See full story in the Leader

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