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Football: Fans favourite Dickens poised to buy Dragons; Joy at troubled football club as local businessman moves close to clinching buyout - with vision to revive fortunes Supporters delighted by news of takeover.

Byline: By ROLAND HUGHES

FANS' favourite Neville Dickens last night moved a major step closer to buying Wrexham FC after agreeing outline terms with the club's administrators.

The millionaire Wrexham car dealer was named the preferred bidder with an exclusive month-long deal to complete negotiations to buy the troubled League Two club.

Mr Dickens, a former Wrexham FC director, last night outlined his vision for the Dragons which included clearing their debts, developing the Racecourse Ground and issuing shares to fans.

The businessman also revealed his consortium planned to leave the club, which has debts of around pounds 4.5m, after 18 months once its future is secured.

Sources said Mr Dickens was extremely likely to conclude the purchase by April 30 when the exclusivity agreement ends.

The deal follows this month's Appeal Court ruling stripping majority shareholder and Cheshire-based property dealer Alex Hamilton of ownership of the stadium.

It was greeted with jubilation from Wrexham fans at the Racecourse last night as they watched their team in the FAW Premier Cup Final against Swansea.

Mr Dickens said last night: "I am delighted that after considerable effort, we are in a position to proceed with the administrators, subject to contract."

Part of it will see him relocate his garage to ensure development of the Racecourse.

His 10-point plan for Wrexham will see:

the club brought out of administration before the Football League deadline of June 3'

football secured at the Racecourse ground'

Wrexham FC put on a secure financial footing to enable it to go forward with cash reserves - rather than significant debts

Denis Smith and his management team retained and given sufficient financial backing to allow them to compete at the top of their division

the Racecourse car park area developed including an application for grant funding to enable construction of a new stand at the Kop end

the appointment of a chief executive with a football and financial background to run the club, with any future board appointments to be determined by the chief executive'

youth development pushed forward with a new state-of-the-art Astroturf facility at the Colliers Park training centre

enlisting the support of the Wrexham Supporters Trust and Wrexham Supporters Association'

the provision of as much information as possible to both the supporters and the press into what's happening at Wrexham

and a share issue for all people who would like to invest in Wrexham's

future

A statement on behalf of the club's administrators Robert Acland and Steven John Williams said: "We are pleased to announce that, after a series of meetings and discussions, we have entered into an exclusivity agreement with the consortium headed by Neville Dickens.

"The agreement allows for exclusivity until April 30, 2006, during which time it is hoped that contracts will be exchanged for acquisition of the club's assets.

"We feel that the Dickens bid is in the best interests of the club and its stakeholders."

Mr Dickens added: "All our efforts are purely to give Wrexham Football Club a future. We have worked hard with hundreds of hours of meetings over the last year to make it happen at considerable cost to ourselves.

We take no fees or expenses.

"We will stay with the club for approximately 12 to 18 months until our vision is well underway. Further announcements will be made in due course.

"In the meantime, we hope the fans will continue to support the club in its push for a play-off place and sincerely hope we can work with the administrators to achieve a successful rescue of the club in the shortest possible timeframe.

"There is a significant number of hurdles still to overcome, but we are working hard to achieve a positive outcome."

Last week judges at the Court of Appeal threw out Alex Hamilton's claim to ownership of the Racecourse, ruling he did not act in good faith when acquiring the ground.

Last week judges at the Court of Appeal threw out Alex Hamilton's claim to ownership of the Racecourse, ruling he did not act in good faith when acquiring the ground.Mr Hamilton, who still holds a 78% stake in the club, last weekend admitted his solicitors had told him there was nothing more he could do to take back control of the Racecourse.

Mr Hamilton, who still holds a 78% stake in the club, last weekend admitted his solicitors had told him there was nothing more he could do to take back control of the Racecourse.Meanwhile, Mr Dickens said last week he was confident he could strike a deal before the June 3 deadline imposed by the Football League for Wrexham to move out of administration.

Meanwhile, Mr Dickens said last week he was confident he could strike a deal before the June 3 deadline imposed by the Football League for Wrexham to move out of administration.Wrexham fans last night reacted with jubilation as word spread the club was to be sold to Mr Dickens and his fellow consortium member Geoff Moss.

Wrexham fans last night reacted with jubilation as word spread the club was to be sold to Mr Dickens and his fellow consortium member Geoff Moss.A roar went up around the Racecourse Ground last night when it was formally announced over the loudspeakers ahead of the cup final clash with Swansea City.

A roar went up around the Racecourse Ground last night when it was formally announced over the loudspeakers ahead of the cup final clash with Swansea City.Delighted fans rose to their feet and clapped and cheered at the news.

Delighted fans rose to their feet and clapped and cheered at the news.Wrexham Supporters' Trust spokesman Simon Johnson said it was vital the club was sold to the right person.

Wrexham Supporters' Trust spokesman Simon Johnson said it was vital the club was sold to the right person."The Supporters' Trust is looking forward to working with Neville Dickens and Geoff Moss," he said. "They both have good links with the club and are doing this for the right reasons. Everybody else has been interested in the land, these people are interested in the club itself."

"The Supporters' Trust is looking forward to working with Neville Dickens and Geoff Moss," he said. "They both have good links with the club and are doing this for the right reasons. Everybody else has been interested in the land, these people are interested in the club i tself."

rolandhughes@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

STEVE JONES, 50, of Buckley: 'Dickens is a quality man. It's brilliant luck. He has helped keep the club going. It's great news for the future' NIGEL STALLARD, 23, of Garden City, Deeside: 'The important thing is that that we have got the right people to buy it, people who have the club at heart' DYLAN JONES, from Flint: 'Neville Dickens has been very supportive and seems to have a lot of local businesses on his side as well. It will be a big boost' LESLEY STANLEY, 43, from Holt, near Wrexham: 'I think it's absolutely amazing, it's going to the right person. We can go forward now - maybe even get into division one' DARREN EDWARDS, 35, of Ruthin: 'simply that it has a future at all. That is the most important thing' SHEILA PARKINSON, 72, of Mold: 'The decision will help keep the club going' Wrexham fans at the Racecourse react with joy to the tannoy announcement of Neville Dickens' proposed purchase - which all those asked thought was great news for the club Pictures: JEFF PITT' Businessman Neville Dickens at Wrexham FC's Racecourse Ground for last night's match, after being named the preferred bidder with a month's exclusive right to buy the League Two club Picture: JEFF PITT
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2006
Words:1285
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