No Sheikh Up?

Tuesday, 17 April 2001, 0:00
4 mins read

Speaking before the Port Vale match, Lewis said that the reports, which suggested the club would be sold to an Arab-backed consortium linked with Swans supporter and Neath-based businessman Dave Bradshaw, were nothing but bar-room tittle tattle which did nothing to help the imminent sale of the club.

The reports had also suggested that the alleged new owners would bring in as boss ex-Wales and Swans star Leighton James, now a pundit on Real Radio as well as a columnist for the Evening Post. Lewis also rubbished those stories saying that Ninth Floor would give manager John Hollins full backing all the while they were the owners of the club. In an exclusive interview to the Welsh media, Lewis said there were parties interested in the club but refused to say who they were and how many were interested. “The speculation we have had in the press in the last few days has been a long way off the truth,” said Lewis, “to the extent that it’s caused disruption at the football club.

“I think some personal egos are being massaged which is causing some problems inside the club. “We are asking you guys who write these stories and pick up the news to try to get the latest facts from the people who count and not get it from people on the periphery of the club who sometimes only know half the story. “The sale of the club is unlikely to be finalised within six months and the speculation that is going on is doing nothing to let these talks develop. “This is an appeal to the press: if you haven’t got the facts, don’t speculate to the extent of introducing names for jobs where people are already under contract.

Lewis said that after the speculation in the Sunday tabloids he had received a call from a concerned club employee regarding his future. “He rang me to say that, if what he read and listened to was correct, was his future at the club in doubt. “That’s the sort if impact it’s having on the club at the moment. We are talking to people but the speculation is sometimes way off the mark and the most important thing is it’s doing no good at all for the smooth running of the club in difficult times.” Lewis said he first heard of the story about the alleged takeover bid on Real Radio at 7pm on Saturday night. He said he rang John Hollins informing him that Leighton James’s name had been put forward in the report. “I haven’t spoke to Leighton so I don’t know whether his involvement as such is at the top end of the bottom end of this,” said Lewis. “I don’t care really.

“All I’m saying is that when people are employed by a club it is totally out or order for names in any department, whether it be my job, John Hollins’s job or anyone else, to be thrown up.” Lewis said he was not prepared to talk about the alleged takeover bid involving Dave Bradshaw and Ann Brazier as reported. “No-one has made a phone call to me over the past two weeks,” he said. “I’ve heard that people in the club have been approached directly or indirectly, some of it in such a way that quite frankly it’s ing on libellous. “I am not going to comment on that, I will just say that the club will be sold, it may take six months and the people to speak to are Neil McClure or myself, not other people and certainly not the likes of Dave Bradshaw.”

The chief executive said the reports linking Leighton James with the manager’s post would not affect John Hollins. “I will take it up with Real Radio because they sponsor us, we have done everything to support them and it was earth shattering for me to drive down the motorway to hear this story,” said Lewis. “If there is an element of self promotion, and I will tell Leighton this too, let’s have it on the table. “But let’s not have people going in the back door picking up bits and pieces and making assumptions. “If there was something to say we would say it and NM has said that the next statement he makes, which will be about the sale of the club, will be to the press face to face.

“I am worried more for Leighton and John as much as anyone else but if Real think its a story they can’t ignore then fair enough, but a phone call to the football club would not have gone amiss.” Lewis said the sale of the club would not be completed by the end of this season and may not even be completed by the start of next. “By the time matters such as due diligence have taken place and people have seen the club, I would say six months is a fair amount of time to sell a football club, bearing in mind we’ve had a couple of months at it already. In one of the Sunday newspaper articles an impeccable source at Vetch Field is quoted. Lewis said he had a fair idea who the source was and added: “Bar-room talk and tittle tattle is doing the club no good at all at the moment, including the individual who has been named as successor to John Hollins.

“John Hollins is under contract to Ninth Floor and the company will honour that contract. “When new owners come in my own position may be in jeopardy, they will decide what structure they want but that hasn’t happened, so all this talk is pure speculation.” Lewis said that in a takeover bid confidentiality was one of the most important issues. “In a takeover bid sometimes it’s under the request of the people interested that they don’t have names revealed. “One of the parties has already had names revealed and they’re not happy about it. “They might even decide to walk away, so I’m not going to tell you, (a) who they are, and (b) how many interested parties there are.

“We have to sign with any potential buyer, from the first time we talk, a confidentiality agreement. We would be breaking that in naming those parties.”

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Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.

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