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A MILLIONAIRE tycoon from Flintshire is fronting an international consortium closing in on a takeover of a Premier League football club.
Halkyn-based businessman Rob Lloyd, who last year appeared on Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire, is leading a bid to buy penniless Portsmouth.
The troubled south coast club is currently in administration, bottom of the league and facing a nine-point penalty for its financial failings.
But property developer and stables owner Mr Lloyd - who was schooled in Colwyn Bay - is upbeat about the consortium's chances of becoming Portsmouth's fifth owners of the season. He met with 19 fans representing various supporters' groups on Sunday, before agreeing an initial pounds 3m deal with the club administrator on Monday.
The deposit secures Mr Lloyd's group a 14-day 'exclusivity period' to negotiate a takeover deal.
Yesterday he said: "We've confirmed the funding this morning to the administrators and the idea is we look to ensure a 14-day exclusivity period to go through due diligence.
"All we're looking to do is get in pole position, and we're certainly making the right noises."
Speculation is rife as to whose interests Mr Lloyd is representing. Mr Lloyd, who was last year reported to be worth pounds 24m, is acting on behalf of an anonymous British-based businessman. "He's got the wherewithal to do the deal," he confirmed.
It has also been reported the consortium includes backers from South Africa and Liechtenstein.
Mr Lloyd said: "There's still an element of caution because everyone has promised the fans the earth and they have been let down by previous owners."
Mr Lloyd was approached to be the group's spokesman by money-men he knows through his businesses Eatonfield Group and Rob Lloyd Racing. He said: "It came in a roundabout way through my involvement with Eatonfield Group and the development work I've been successful in getting. I'm used to buying off distressed sellers and turning things around."
But he was rapped by the club's administrator Andrew Andronikou for allegedly allowing his involvement to be announced in the press before being made formally to the club.
In spite of the minor dressing down, fan forums have been generally in favour of Mr Lloyd's interest.
The tycoon himself yesterday claimed several endorsed his group's bid on local radio phone-ins.
He attended the club's Premier League game at Liverpool, the team he supports, on Monday night - but vowed to put his loyalties to the Reds to one side.
LIVERPOOL VS PORTSMOUTH - BACK PAGE CARAVAN TO MILLIONAIRE SELF-MADE millionaire Rob Lloyd spent two years living in a caravan before he made his millions.
The self-confessed workaholic came to public prominence last year when he appeared in Channel 4's hit show The Secret Millionaire.
Estimated by the Estates Gazette Rich List to be worth pounds 24m, he was forced to live on a budget of pounds 77 in the notorious Shankhill Road area of Belfast, before revealing his true identity and presenting community groups with cheques for thousands of pounds to help their causes.
But before he made his money, Rob spent two years living in a caravan with his then wife and three children.
He got himself back on his feet renting a car park in Chester, after buying a garden shed to use as a ticket kiosk and manning the site seven days a week.
He now owns housebuilding company Eatonfield Group, racehorse breeding business Cloverdale Bloodstock and horse training and racing firm Rob Lloyd Racing Ltd.
Feeling down... Gloom surrounds Fratton Park as Portsmouth head for relegation Racing entrepreneur Rob Lloyd is leading a mystery consortium's attempt to buy ailing Portsmouth FC