THE financier behind ill-fated Everton investment scheme Fortress Sports Fund has denied being at fault for the deal’s failure.
Geneva-based Chris Samuelson planned to buy a 29.9% stake in the Blues in October 2004, and despite being introduced to fans by chairman Bill Kenwright at an AGM, the scheme never materialised.
This week Samuelson was unveiled as the broker of a deal to take over Reading, which is currently being completed on behalf of his business partner – wealthy Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich.
It was Mr Zingarevich’s father Boris, who was allegedly behind the bid to invest at Goodison Park seven years ago, but speaking at a press conference in Reading yesterday, Samuelson moved to reassure supporters of the Berkshire club that their dream takeover will not also falter.
He said: “It’s completely different this time. There was a very good reason why Boris Zingarevich withdrew from the transaction.
“It was a minority stake to help the club survive at the time. Because of that he withdraw and waited a number of years as you can see.”
“This is Anton Zingarevich, it is not his father, I would like to emphasise that.”
Asked if Reading supports should be wary of complications, Spurs fan Mr Samuelson insisted: “There is absolutely no reason to watch out. There was a very good reason why we had to withdraw from that, but it is not something I’m willing to go into because it is confidential between me, the Zingarevichs and Bill Kenwright.
“I saw Bill Kenwright last week. I know him well and he was fine with it. He knows exactly why it happen and there were sound reasons why it did. It wasn’t that we didn’t have the money.”
Current Reading chairman Sir John Madejski also claimed he has no fears about his club’s takeover suffering the same fate as the Fortress Sports Fund.
The 70-year-old said: “I was invited to talk to Bill Kenwright who I know very well indeed.
“I didn’t feel I needed to talk to him because I like to keep these things quiet until we are ready to announce them.
“Bill knew about the deal anyway. He could have rung me up, he didn’t, so I’m sure everything is fine.
“I have no misgivings about their (Zingarevichs’) credentials, I have no misgivings about their integrity and I’m just absolutely delighted.”