Takeover bid tabled

16 May 2013 08:43
Haskell makes his move

Former Coventry City chairman Joe Elliott has confirmed that the American businessman Preston Haskell IV has made a formal offer to Sisu to buy the club along with a 50%share of The Ricoh Arena.

Mr Elliott, who was suspended from his role of Life President of the club by the current owners Sisu, along with former director Gary Hoffman, are fronting Mr Haskell’s bid to buy the club.

Later today Paul Appleton, the administrator, will release a statement into his findings about the financial state of affairs at the club as well as to the whereabouts of the ‘Golden Share’ which is the licence for the club to operate in the Football League.

The proposed takeover now hinges on where the ‘golden share’ is held. Mr Haskell is hoping it is held by Coventry City Holdings Limited, the branch of Sisu’s business that has been placed into voluntary administration and it on this assumption that Mr Haskell has made his offer to Mr Appleton.

Another bid, to buy the 50% share of The Ricoh Arena from the Higgs charity, was made at the same time, but this offer is conditional on the successful takeover of the club first. A period of due diligence will begins as both sides try to prove their credentials. Mr Haskell will have to prove he has sufficient funds available and that he is serious in his bid, while Sisu and ACL will have to allow him access to the books.

Mr Elliott said, “We can confirm that we have now tabled an offer for Coventry City Football Club Limited (in administration) which assumes the Football League’s ‘golden share’ is in that company. Everyone knows that the stadium and the football club need to be brought closer together.

“Therefore, we are also pleased to confirm that an offer has been made to acquire 50 per cent of Arena Coventry Limited and we will shortly enter the due diligence phase. There is no certainty we will be successful but we live in Sky Blue hope and will continue to work together to bring a successful conclusion.”  

“We will advise on progress as and when appropriate to do so, which will be in conjunction with the relevant parties.”

Preston Haskell and his team of business advisors have been in Coventry all day Tuesday for meetings. Elliott and Hoffman have confirmed that they have been working very closely with Mr Haskell who is ‘extremely serious and committed’ in his attempted takeover of the troubled club.  

Mr Elliott continued, “We have met with the administrator and have agreed to keep our conversations confidential. Therefore, whilst we will be saying very little at the moment, this does not mean we are not tirelessly working towards a resolution. We spent nine hours with Preston in Coventry earlier this week and we have got a guy who is extremely serious and wants to do it. Preston is committed to do the deal if we are allowed to.

“The last thing we want to do is destabilise the club. Sisu owns it, so they think; they’re running it, but, the administrator is in charge of Limited and we believe the golden share is in it and therefore we are talking to the administrator. He’s acknowledged our offer and we will be interested to hear what he has to say in his findings.”

The takeover team are keen to get a deal done as quickly as possible so they can start work on plans for next season.

“There is a timescale on getting something sorted out in time to give the club time to prepare for the new season,” said Mr Elliott, “so as far as we are concerned, time is critical. The first thing we would do is get the club back at the Ricoh and get season tickets on sale and if we can’t do that I hope Sisu can do that.  

“In line with the Telegraph’s great campaign, my wife Grace and I have both signed the petition and we just want to see Coventry City playing at the Ricoh, whoever owns the club.”

While the news that a takeover bid has been made will please many Coventry City fans, Mr Elliott warned that a deal is I no way certain and when he was asked if Sisu could enter into a bidding war to but CCFC (Holdings) Limited, he said, “Sisu are the biggest creditor so we fully appreciate that Sisu could buy Limited.”

Mr Elliott confirmed that the takeover team have only been speaking to Paul Appleton, the administrator and to ACL, the owners of The Ricoh Arena and not to Sisu directly.

He said,  “We are working in a way that we are only talking to the administrator and to ACL with reference to the Arena because as everyone knows the two need to be put together. Gary (Hoffman) and I met the administrator last week and had a constructive meeting and we have had good meetings with ACL. It’s either going to be a make or break day or the administrator may say he needs to make further investigations.”

Source: Coventry MAD