Date:Friday January 18 2008
Millionaire businessman Daniel Williams has given up on his dream to buy Blackburn Rovers.
The Lancashire Telegraph has revealed the American-based tycoon and boyhood Rovers fan has finally admitted defeat in his quest to take ownership of the club, after claiming the Walker trustees are not prepared to budge over the asking price.
Williams, a Cambridge graduate who originally made his name in the recruitment sector, first became interested in a buy-out of Rovers when he learned the Walker trustees were willing to sell their 99.8 per cent stake early last year.
Since then, the 31-year-old, who originally hails from Lytham St Annes, has held a series of discussions, both with chairman John Williams and the club's corporate advisers, Rothschilds, with a view to a possible takeover.
But, after the parties failed to agree on a valuation of the business, Williams has now reluctantly decided to withdraw from the process, claiming the figures he was quoted prevented it from being a viable investment.
The self-made millionaire confessed: 'There seems to be too big a gap between what we think the club is worth, and what the trustees want for it.
'The reality is the trustees want to sell, but they don't have to, so they are holding out for the figure they want, which is their prerogative.
'But we don't want to come in and end up paying over the odds, which would then have an impact on the amount of money we could then make available to take the club forward.
'At the end of the day, it is an investment and right now, we can't see any way we'd get a fair return on that investment if we took the club over at the present level.
'My heart says yes, but my head says no.'
Williams confessed in an exclusive interview with the Lancashire Telegraph last June that he did not have the means to fund a takeover on his own, but planned to put together a consortium, which had the backing of several major investors.
Daniel Williams said: 'Everyone who has looked at Blackburn has said there is no way to grow it from a business point of view.
'The only way you could get a return on your investment would be to start selling assets and, being a fan myself, that's not a route I was prepared to go down.'
Aside from the differences over valuation, Williams and his partners also had major concerns about the expectation levels amongst the fans.
Talk of challenging the big four', and what it would take financially to make that an achieveable goal in the long-term, made some of Williams' US investors apprehensive about the project.
Although the Walker trustees are believed to have held takeover talks with other interested parties since March last year, Williams remains the only person to publicly declare an interest in buying the club, although he never enjoyed the full support of the supporters, some of whom were always wary of his motives.
Williams' decision to pull out means the trustees will now pursue other avenues and manager Mark Hughes recently stated in an interview that it is essential to the future well being of the club that fresh investment is attracted from somewhere.
Speaking in November, the Rovers boss said: 'It would be helpful if we could get investors in that would move the club forward and enable me to possibly compete with the other clubs in and around us.
'The motivation of the trustees is they won't sell to someone who'll just come in and nothing will change, because there's no reason to - we'd be no better off.
'If a buyer comes in that can move the club forward then I'm sure they'll sell. But that hasn't happened as yet so we'll keep going.'
Date:Friday January 18 2008
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