LOCAL businessman Ashley Read has withdrawn his takeover bid for Woking Football Club.
In a letter to majority shareholder Peter Jordan, dated Monday 25 January and sent to the News & Mail the same day, Mr Read, 34, confirmed his exit from negotiations.
He told Mr Jordan, the owner of a 75% controlling stake in the Kingfield outfit: “I now formally withdraw my previously declared interest.”
In November, the News & Mail broke the story of protracted negotiations between the two parties, which began last June.
Subsequently, amid a confusing mixture of messages coming from Kingfield’s hierarchy, it was widely reported that Mr Jordan, 70, tendered his resignation to the board – keen to push through the sale of his stake – only to withdraw that notice on 22 December.
Meanwhile, anxious Cards fans have followed with interest the proposed buy-out of their club – which reported losses exceeding £400,000 for the year ending 31 May 2015 (up from £220,496 for the previous financial year) at last November’s AGM.
But Mr Read’s decision to ‘stick’ is the latest twist in the well-publicised purchase talks.
Responding to the news of Mr Read’s withdrawal from discussions, the club’s Head of Communications, David Taylor, told the News & Mail: “Under the agreed terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement that was signed [by both parties], the discussions will remain private – but it goes without saying that we’ll now do what is in the best interests of Woking FC and the fans.”
Mr Taylor added that the focus of the National League side is to secure a place in the end of season promotion play-offs. He explained: “Ashley has chosen to withdraw his interest, so nothing changes with us. The big story is that we are in the mix for the play-off places and playing very well.
“Ashley remains a valued sponsor, aside from anything else. We thank him for his interest in the club.”
With annual losses seemingly on the rise at Woking, when asked whether the club had any alternative suitors lined up, Mr Taylor, who has served at Kingfield for 18 years, explained: “During my time here we have had an awful lot of people say they want to buy the club, but at the moment we have nothing more to report.
“We have had at least a dozen approaches over the past three years and we’ve recently been contacted by someone in Australia who is interested in buying the club. However, as I have already said, we will always do what is in the best interests of Woking FC.
“We have a board meeting in February and will be in a position to announce any developments after that.”
Meanwhile, The Cards Trust’s Rupert Phillips, Chairman of the supporters’ group – which owns a 20% stake – said he was looking forward to speaking with the board regarding any future plans, but could not comment further until then.