FORMER Wrexham FC chairman Pryce Griffiths was last night accused of being the major obstacle to a deal to sell the club.
Prospective buyer Andrew Smith and club owner Alex Hamilton said Mr Griffiths' insistence on receiving up to £500,000 from any redevelopment at the Racecourse ground was proving a major stumbling block.
Mr Smith yesterday revealed he was due to speak to Mr Hamilton on Friday with a view to completing the deal, thought to be worth about £5m.
Mr Smith was expected to buy the club last month but talks floundered, prompting speculation the deal was dead.
Mr Smith last night said four of his 10 investors pulled out after becoming aware of Mr Griffiths' £500,000 claim at the "23rd hour".
New investors are now lined up to take their place.
Mr Hamilton admitted Mr Griffiths had a right to up to £500,000 from any redevelopment of the Racecourse. He added he was trying to persuade Mr Griffiths to "reconsider his position" to enable the deal to go through.
There is no suggestion Mr Griffiths sought to conceal his financial interest in the sale.
Mr Smith said yesterday: "This is the most difficult deal we have ever done. It has been fraught with problems all the way through with so many people involved having their say.
"We were very close to buying it, but a couple of my people got very upset. What concerned them was that this bill arrived at the last minute."
He added: "We are still confident we will buy the club."
Mr Smith said his consortium had already spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal and accountancy costs in their bid to buy the club.
Mr Hamilton last night branded Mr Griffiths "the fly in the ointment".
He said Mr Griffiths sold his 78% shareholding in Wrexham FC three years ago to Memorvale Ltd - owned by Mr Hamilton - for £50,000 and that the contract included provision for further payments to Mr Griffiths based on the value of any future partial or total redevelopment of the Race-course Stadium site.
Mr Hamilton said he agreed the clause because his intention was to move the club to a purpose-built stadium and sell the whole of the eight-acre site for development.
In that eventuality, Mr Griffiths would have pocketed an agreed capped sum, believed to be £500,000.
"At the time I felt we were talking about relocation and, bearing in mind the likely return, it was an acceptable proposition," he said..
"Since then I have been asked by the administrators to sell my shareholding which I am willing to do, but that obligation will be sold along with the shares.
"Pryce Griffiths seems to be the impediment to any solution that keeps the club going in its present home.
"I have asked Mr Griffiths to reconsider his position in the best interests of the football club, but so far without success."
Mr Hamilton, who claimed he would not even receive what he paid for the club's shares in the event of a successful deal with Mr Smith, warned time was running out.
"Mr Smith has performed valiantly but his backers don't want to entertain this extra liability and it is proving a burden for any prospective purchaser," he said..
Mr Smith, a married father-of-two, has pledged the club's future at the Racecourse ground - with development around the stadium's perimeter.
Wrexham Supporters Trust yesterday challenged Mr Smith to prove he could buy the club or walk away.
Lindsay Jones, of WST, said it would be a hollow victory if the Dragons won the LDV Vans trophy at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, but were left homeless.
"The club needs to prove to the Football League that it can complete its fixtures next season and it needs to do this by June 10," Mr Jones said.
"If Mr Smith cannot fund the purchase he should step aside immediately. This is not just another property deal, it is about the future of our club.
"Our concern is that Mr Smith's continued presence will deter other interested parties, of which there are several, from tabling an offer."
Mr Griffiths has referred questions on the matter to his solicitor.