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Saturday, October 16, 1999 Published at 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK


Sport: Football

Everton takeover bid accepted

Goodison Park now appears set for a lengthy battle for control

A US finance house have agreed a deal to buy out former chairman Peter Johnson's controlling interest in Everton.

But the move is unlikely to end the lengthy saga of who owns the club, which has dragged on for almost a year.

It is believed that vice-chairman Bill Kenwright will now have to join forces with another North West consortium of businessmen to fight the American offer.

Theatre impresario Kenwright has been struggling for almost a year to win control of the club himself.


[ image: Peter Johnson: Holds 68% stake]
Peter Johnson: Holds 68% stake
Johnson resigned as chairman in late 1998, but although he left the club, he has so far refused to sell his 68% stake inb the Goodison club.

The impasse has left the Toffees unable to compete in the transfer market, while a number of players have been sold to pay off debts.

The situation looks set to be resolved in one way of another by this Thursday's annual general meeting of the club.

On Monday accountants representing Manhattan-based EM Warburg Pincus and Co can begin checking the books of the Goodison Park club with a view to their deal being completed.

The Warburg Pincus bid is believed to have been brokered by computer games entrepreneur and Everton fan Paul Finnegan.

It was presented to Johnson's Leeds-based brokers Arthur Anderson, and accepted by the Jersey-based major shareholder.

Battle

The scene is set for a battle for control between Kenwright and the Americans, with the impresario facing the possibility of being voted off the board by Johnson's majority control at Thursday's AGM.

Kenwright has yet to make a formal bid, although a rival consortium of North West businessmen have had a 30m offer rejected.

They are not connected to Kenwright, although there is speculation that the two will join together to fight the American bid.

Kevin Nolan, spokesman for the club's shareholders association, confirmed that his organisation know about the American bid and accept that it is genuine.

But he said: "I will believe it has happened only when the cheque has cleared the bank."

Sources believe that the American offer is not the end of the matter - merely the beginning of another lengthy battle for control of the club.





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