Investor steps in to save Halesowen Town

Halesowen Town looks set to be saved after a new investor stepped in to help buy the football club from its current owner.

Speaking exclusively to Adam Parkes on Black Country Radio’s Friday Sportsview show, chairman Karen Brookes has revealed that another party has come forward following a recent crowdfunding appeal and that an offer made to owner Steve Lynch earlier this week has now been accepted.

Although the appeal, set up on the website JustGiving, has raised only £3,000 of the £30,000 target set, the actual figure is significantly higher as many people have chosen to donate outside of the website to a private bank account setup by the club.

Karen Brookes said: "[We've raised] around £13,500 to £14,000, so whilst it's some way off the £30,000 [target] I really appreciate everyone's efforts.

"Another investor, alongside myself, has come in and I made an offer on Sunday last week to the current owner.

"This afternoon I've had an email acceptance of that offer so, subject to going through solicitors and [the sale going through to] be able to purchase the club, I think it's looking much brighter and much more positive."

For confidentiality reasons, the new investor's identity has not yet been revealed.

"We're meeting them [the new investor] and discussing tomorrow so, at the moment, I'm not able to disclose who it is, however it's someone I trust and respect," Brookes added.

"It is someone who has an association with Halesowen Town Football Club so I don't think our fans will have any issues.

"People will know who it is - they have a long association with the club. Our fans will [recognise the name of the individual when it is revealed]".

It is estimated that the club could be in new hands within weeks - less than a month after one option considered at a fans' forum was to form a brand new club, with the existing entity going out of business - but this would have meant the new club starting from several divisions below Halesowen's current league, the Evo-Stik Northern Premier.

She continued: "Subject to the purchase going through at the end of February, we will be able to continue in our current guise, so we're not going to have to consider some of the alternatives we talked about at the fans' forum.

"So at least for the time being it means we stay in the Northern Premier League which is obviously a real positive.

"What it means is we will be able to focus on results on the pitch, trying to make sure we've got the right players and trying to stay in the Northern Premier League instead of [focusing] all of our energy and efforts on trying to sort the club out."

"I've dealt with most, if not all, of the financial issues in my first six months or so with the football club.

"It will need more investment - it'll be by no means easy. But what it does mean, I think, is that we're moving forwards in the same direction."

"The other investor is able to invest [their own money] as well and I'm hoping when I speak to the fans tomorrow [Saturday] that the crowdfunding money that has been donated - we are able to put [the money] into the funds of the football club to enable us to work through until the end of the season, which will be a massive help."

She also revealed that, while initially the share ownership would be equal between her and the new investor, she had every intention of fulfilling her promise of wider fan ownership.

"It will be 50/50 [share ownership] with myself and the other investor and, as I've promised the fans - I obviously need to speak to the investor - I have spoken to them about the fans' membership scheme but we need to finalise that and I'll then talk to the fans."

The news presents a huge boost to the club, which has been besieged by a string of absent or controversial owners in the last decade, leading to rule breaches, points deductions, fines, transfer bans and competition bans.

Just last week, the club revealed that they have been fined a total of £700 and deducted four points for fielding an ineligible player in four league matches earlier in the season.

The club are yet to confirm if they intend to appeal the decision but should they decide not to, or lose an appeal, it would leave them bottom of the league table.

Last April, outgoing owner Steve Lynch was banned from all football activity for two years after being charged with 12 breaches of rules, mainly surrounding his involvement at Eastwood Town FC. Some of the charges also brought a fine of £5,000 against Halesowen.

Mr Lynch arrived at the club to much fanfare in 2011, after the disastrous former regimes of the Ingram brothers and Morell Maison, in which the club repeatedly lurched from crisis to crisis and came close to financial ruin on multiple occasions.

A statement, issued on the club's website, urged fans to attend tomorrow's home game against Rushall Olympic where Karen Brookes will be on hand before and after the match to update fans and to answer any questions.


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