24th Oct, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Gary Hoffman bid for Coventry City REJECTED as 'derisory' by Sisu

Les Reid 20th Apr, 2017 Updated: 20th Apr, 2017

A BID for Coventry City Football Club tabled in recent days to its ‘owners’ Sisu by ex-vice chairman Gary Hoffman has been REJECTED as derisory, we can exclusively reveal.

The Coventry Observer can confirm from sources that Mr Hoffman WAS the man behind the bid, despite his apparent refusal today to publicly confirm his involvement.

As we revealed earlier today following internet speculation about the Hoffman bid of recent days, Coventry City responded with a statement saying there had still been ‘no credible offer’ for the football club.

The Observer understands the bid was for around £500,000 upfront with add-ons including £250,000 for any promotion, and was rejected on those grounds as derisory.

We also understand the bid provided no proof of funds, or transparency of investors – the criteria by which it is understood Sisu would consider any bid, as well as the financial terms of any offer.

As we reported earlier, asked about the Hoffman speculation and other media stories about Chinese and Australian companies seeking to buy ‘an English club’ – the football club released the following brief statement to us.

“To be clear, the owners have not received any credible offer for the football club.

“The noise and speculation around the football club is simply not helpful.”

Sisu has previously stated it wanted to acquire value for the club, and needed more commercial stadium revenues for the team to be more competitive.

Mr Fisher recently told a fans’ group Sky Blue Trust meeting that a sale of the club was not likely at the bottom of the cycle, or market – with Sisu seeking a return on its investment since taking over the club nine years ago.

The club has claimed Sisu and associated companies including Arvo Master Fund have invested at least £70million in the club, including in inter-company loans and some debts now transferred into shares. There have been some reports that the figure is now above £100million.

Speculation had been rife, including on internet forums, again this week that Mr Hoffman had in recent days lodged a bid to Sisu’s Joy Seppala.

As we reported earlier, it had appeared from the club’s statement that any such bid would have been flatly rejected as lacking any credibility.

It follows speculation two weeks ago that Mr Hoffman and former Sky Blues chairman Joe Elliott had reached an ‘agreement in principle’ accepted by Sisu, a widely circulated rumour that was categorically dismissed as false.

Mr Elliott and Mr Hoffman – the pair who hire a corporate box for home matches at the Ricoh Arena – have failed with various takeover attempts since their departures from Coventry City Football Club’s board.

Mr Elliott fronted a failed would-be attempt by American property investor Preston Haskell IV in 2013. In that year, several takeover attempts, some with the involvement of Coventry City Council, failed via an administration process – amid a multi-party dispute over Ricoh Arena stadium rent, revenues and ownership.

The Sisu group of companies would still remain as secured creditors in the event of any further administration. It is despite some self-styled fans’ leaders including David Johnson of Fighting The Jimmy Hill Way recently speculating in a BBC Coventry & Warwickshire interview that ‘fans’ could ‘acquire’ the club via another administration after poor season ticket sales.

Mr Johnson last week declined to answer our questions about why he had mooted the idea, which was not well received by other Sky Blues fans on internet forums.

Any administration would mean further points deductions for the Sky Blues team – now relegated to League Two, the fourth tier of English football – and struggling to make ends meet amid off-field politics and being deprived of commercial revenues from a stadium.

The fans group The Sky Blue Trust and associated groups have campaigned for ‘fans’ or ‘part-fans’ ownership for five years, but have failed in that time to show a credible plan for achieving it.

Mr Hoffman fronted another failed takeover attempt in 2011.

 

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