The bankrupt co-star of the secretly recorded phone calls with Michael Lowry looks to be on the verge of leading a €9.5m takeover of Doncaster Rovers football club.
Kevin Phelan, who was declared bankrupt this year, has been leading a bid by an unidentified investor who has been described as having his or her origins in both Ireland and Belize.
The bid is being channelled through a fund management company in London, Sequentia Capital, which has direct ties to a firm that is holding, restoring and protecting additional recordings Mr Phelan claims to have made of Mr Lowry and others involved in the Moriarty Tribunal.
Mr Phelan’s Sequentia has not identified its principal backer, but Doncaster Rover’s board has been convinced that it has £8m (€9.5m) to buy into the club.
This weekend, the chairman of Doncaster Rovers club, John Ryan, resigned after he said he discovered other significant shareholders in the club had approached the investor directly and were conducting negotiations behind his back. According to his rival shareholder, Terry Bramall, the chairman had been dealing with Mr Phelan’s Sequentia on his own for six months and other shareholders wanted to be involved. He told the BBC one of the problems had been that Sequentia wanted to stagger its investment, and the majority of the board wanted cash up front.
Mr Bramall said he was “prepared to accept the Sequentia deal in the terms that we were discussing”.
In 1997 and 1998 Mr Phelan, the Omagh-based property scout, controversially sourced land in England on behalf of both Mr Lowry and Denis O’Brien.
One of these involved buying Doncaster Rovers for Mr O’Brien as part of a property development project to sell and transform its grounds. Mr Ryan then bought the football side of the club from Mr O’Brien and he said his relationship with Mr Phelan endured.
“I have a had a very good relationship with Kevin Phelan over many years. I bought the club off him.”
In the summer, Mr Ryan told a supporters’ trust that the Sequentia deal had been backed by Denis O’Brien, but this was immediately and flatly denied by the Mr O’Brien.
It was then clarified, by Sequentia, that the bid was being funded by investment that was held in the central American country, Belize.
Mr Ryan told BBC Sheffield he coaxed Sequentia back to the table in recent months and got Mr Phelan to secure an up front offer of £8m (€9.5m).
“I got a great deal with money up front, which was the big problem, they didn’t think the Irish would pay up, or the Belize or whatever, and I persuaded them to put down for the club, not the investment in the club which would have been tens of millions but I persuaded them to put £8m down. It was a great offer,” he said.
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