‘Intimidation’ leaves Reds takeover deal in doubt

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE future of Wrexham FC has been thrown back into doubt.


The businessman backing the latest bid for the club is believed to have pulled out after claiming he was intimidated at his Shropshire home.


And in another development, student flats next to The Racecourse Ground were the target of an arson attack early yesterday, the second within a week.


News that controversial businessman Colin Poole was backing the takeover of the club sparked a storm of protest when it was announced last week.


According to Ian Roberts, who still co-owns the club, Mr Poole has now pulled out of the deal after being visited by a group of angry protesters on Saturday.


He said Mr Poole was hosting a horse show in the grounds of his luxury home in the countryside outside Shrewsbury when a group confronted him about his part in the bid for the club by its former commercial director Jon Harris.


Mr Roberts said: “Apparently, these people hired a minibus and went out there.
“They parked in the nearby village and walked up a mile-long drive to the house.
“They handed out leaflets and confronted Mr Poole and his wife.


“He and his family obviously felt extremely intimidated by this and he has now decided to withdraw his financial support, which I believe was about £2 million.”


Mr Roberts also revealed that in the early hours of yesterday, arsonists attacked student flats on land which he jointly owns with Geoff Moss in Crispin Lane, next to the football stadium.


He said details were still unclear but it appeared petrol had been thrown through an open panel on the ground floor of the block, which is still partially under construction but will eventually house 156 tenants.


Mr Roberts added: “They set fire to some material in there and if not for the security guard, who managed to put the fire out, it could have been much worse.


“The damage will cost a couple of grand to put right but there is no structural damage.”


He said earlier in the week a small section of the same building was deliberately set on fire, causing minor damage.


He said: “It could be a million-to-one chance coincidence that these fires took place in the week after the announcement of the club’s sale was made, but to me it seems awfully suspicious for them to have happened now.


“This has to be the last straw.


“Geoff and I have had threats on our lives over the phone and now this.


“I don’t know what could happen next but I have other businesses and my employees safety to think of.


“Every single person who has shown an interest in buying the club has now been frightened off and I just don’t know what happens now.”


Jon Harris confirmed the intimidation of Colin Poole at the weekend and that Mr Poole had now withdrawn from the deal.


He said: “I think it is only right to give him a bit of time to consider this.
“However, this is my bid and I am still looking at moving forward.


“If Colin withdraws I will have to look for someone else.”


A spokesman for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said crews attended a small fire on a site in Crispin Lane at 1.26am on Monday.


A police spokesman said the blaze was being treated as suspicious and a joint investigation with the fire service was under way.


People with information are asked to call Wrexham CID on 101 (if in Wales), 0845 6071001 (Welsh language line) or 0845 6071002 (English language line).
The Leader was unable to contact Mr Poole at the time of going to press.


Richard Owen, chairman of Wrexham Supporters Trust, said: “We have no knowledge at all of what happened at Mr Poole’s home.


“We prefer not to comment on any of these incidents until we can study the full facts of what has happened.”


He added: “We had a board meeting last night to discuss what happened at our meeting at William Aston Hall last week and will be making a statement today.”
 

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