Am I alone in being a little confused by Richard Murray’s statement on the takeover? He said on 20 January, according to the club site, that “I’m aware of two consortiums and one is further ahead than the other” and that “they are still in negotiation – they are active”. On 7 February, again stripping from the club site, we had “as far as I know, and I’m not kept in touch blow by blow, we still have two interested parties. I still believe one interested party is far closer to doing a deal because I think they are very close on price with Roland”.
Today we had “I said in January that negotiations with two parties on the takeover were continuing well ... although the takeover has not yet been completed, the good news is the terms of the deal, including the price, have now been agreed between the parties and we are now just waiting for their respective lawyers to finalise the sale and purchase agreement”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that we have had confirmation that the sale has not fallen through, that is by a distance the most important news. But why the obvious confusion? If a price has now been agreed between “the parties” that must be a reference to a buyer and a seller. But it is perfectly clear that previously Murray when referencing ‘two parties’ was talking of two potential buyers (with a third party. Roland). We all know since then that Alex McLeish was involved in a consortium which dropped out (because Duchatelet was asking for too much money), those reports dated 18 February (ie after Murray’s update earlier in the month). So was that consortium one of the two potential purchasers and, if yes, was it the one that in January was considered the front-runner?
Surely Murray wasn’t trying to gloss over something with his use of words. There would be no point as everyone can easily see through any such move. And we all appreciate confidentiality agreements, plus the fact that Murray is not party to ongoing discussions. But what was wrong with commenting on the known fact that a consortium pulled out of a deal? If that buyer was the January front-runner, it’s not unreasonable to infer that the price agreed with buyer number two will be lower than mooted at the time, unless Duchatelet did manage to engineer a bidding war until one party backed out.
Hopefully none of this will matter within a few weeks. I still hope to be doing my dancing in Lyon before the end of March and a prospective return to London, but if it drags on (again) I’ll take comfort from the fact that I’d be able to get to The Valley to celebrate.