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Toffees came close to Sheikh up

05 Oct 2011 15:32:00

Toffees came close to Sheikh up

ill Kenwright claims the Abu Dhabi group who purchased Manchester City previously expressed a serious interest in buying Everton. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright claims the club could have been taken over by the Abu Dhabi group who purchased Manchester City if plans for a new Toffees stadium had been in place. City have developed into Barclays Premier League title contenders, won the FA Cup and made their Champions League debut since being backed by the wealth of Sheikh Mansour. He became City's owner in 2008 and remains top of FourFourTwo's Football Rich List for the 2011-12 season. Over the last few years a string of expensive signings have arrived to play at City's recently-renamed Etihad Stadium, their home since 2003. Everton, meanwhile, have operated on a limited budget and the prospect of them either moving to a new ground or redeveloping Goodison Park does not appear to be any closer. Their home game against Aston Villa last month was preceded by a peaceful protest involving several hundred Toffees supporters frustrated at the lack of progress in finding a buyer for the Merseyside outfit. Kenwright has often stated his desire to bring in new investors, and in a BBC interview with former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow - who was with the Reds during their takeover by Fenway Sports Group last term - the 66-year-old has suggested Mansour's money may have headed Everton's way if they had had an approved stadium project. "I know for a fact that you met a lot of individuals who said they had the money to buy Liverpool Football Club, and I think I have met 10 times as many people as you met," Kenwright told Purslow. "I have to say, some of them were good and I thought we had a big chance. "The main thing that has happened in the last three years is the recession, and football is a trophy asset more than anything. "You do not buy a football club to make money, believe me - I'm living proof of that. "All I can tell you is that there are various scenarios. It is a two-football-club city, it is not the capital and there is not huge, huge money in the world. "Of course, you can throw Manchester City at me. But Manchester City had the stadium situation and there was a lot of what I believe was lucky manoeuvring going on there - not underhand at all, but lucky manoeuvring." Asked if he thought the Abu Dhabi group might have bought Everton rather than City if the Toffees had had a new stadium or plan for one, Kenwright said: "And if I had been in the right place at the right time - which was very, very important to that deal, because I know about that deal - then yes." Kenwright insists the majority of Everton fans have been understanding about the club's predicament. "If you walked over to my desk right now and I showed you some of the mail I get, it's humbling," he said. "In the main, there is a lot of logic and understanding there, and pride - Evertonians have a lot of pride in the way their club is run, but there is always a discordant note in every symphony. "There shouldn't be, but there is in football." Kenwright also stressed it was not strong enough to say he would "like" to sell the club to someone with greater funds, offering "need" and "love" as more appropriate terms.


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