CHESTER City chairman Stephen Vaughan last night confirmed he is in talks to buy a major shareholding in Everton Football Club.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Post, Mr Vaughan said he was negotiating to buy millionaire Everton director Paul Gregg's 23.2% shareholding in the club.
But in a bizarre twist last night, Mr Gregg said his discussions with Mr Vaughan were about his buying Mr Kenwright and fellow director Jon Woods's shares, not his own.
He added that Mr Vaughan had confirmed to him he had £20m available for making a dramatic takeover move.
Mr Vaughan would need to raise just £7m-£8m to buy out Mr Gregg, whose family has more than 8,000 shares in the Champions League qualifiers.
Mr Gregg had a major public split with majority shareholder and chairman Bill Kenwright last summer.
Mr Vaughan said last night: "I spoke to Paul Gregg at length today, and we discussed the role of two men who have been brokering the sale of the shareholding."
The Merseyside-based businessman continued: "Quite rightly, Mr Gregg has asked me to provide proof of funding about our ability to purchase his shares. I shall be only too pleased to pass this on to him.
"We are football people and, if the opportunity to become involved in a Premier League club arose, it would be extremely interesting.
"My investors and myself have a number of ideas to take the club forward. These include many commercial ideas which would bring the club up to date, and bring it into modern times and commercial methods. This would generate much-needed revenues for the club."
Mr Vaughan would no longer be able to retain his shareholding in Chester City, the club he saved from extinction four years ago.
"Currently I am the major shareholder and creditor of Chester City, and if the negotiations progressed sufficiently for me to take a stake in Everton, then my interests would be passed into the capable hands of my chief executive, David Burford.
Chester will not be disadvantaged at all if I am successful."
He added that negotiations to buy into Everton were at a very early stage. "There are still a number of ifs and buts if a deal is to be concluded. However, discussions will continue."
But Mr Vaughan's views were last night apparently at odds with those of Paul Gregg who said their discussions were not concerned with his own shares but those of Mr Kenwright.
He said: "Mr Vaughan is seeking control of Everton Football Club because he believes the current leadership has not provided the professional and commercial competence to seize the opportunity achieved by David Moyes and his team.
"Everton needs fresh capital, fresh ideas and fresh ambition.
"Mr Vaughan approached me earlier today to enquire whether Mr Kenwright and Mr Woods would sell their shares.
"He expressed an interest in gaining control of the club and I asked him if he had sufficient funds to buy Mr Kenwright and Mr Woods out. He has confirmed he has up to £20m available.
"He is a passionate Evertonian who is ambitious for Everton's future success."
Mr Gregg tried to oust Mr Kenwright, the majority shareholder with 25% of the shares, from the club last summer.
He claimed to have a £15m investment package available, backed by Littlewoods heir and Everton shareholder Lord Grantchester. However, this never materialised.
True Blue Holdings, made up of Mr Kenwright, Mr Gregg and fellow shareholder Jon Woods, was dissolved in December last year after a new consortium, the Sports Fortress Fund, was established to invest in the club but this too has yet to be delivered.
With the dissolution of True Blue, the individual holdings of their shares were assumed to convert directly to Everton shares, leaving the bulk of the Blues' shares split between Bill Kenwright, the Gregg family, Jon Woods and Lord Grantchester.
The biggest single shareholder is Kenwright, with 8,754 shares (25%), but Gregg, wife Anita and their son are only just behind with 8,146 distributed between them.
Lord Grantchester owns 2,773 but the Moores family has historically held a significant shareholding in the club and he is unlikely to sell in the near future.
That leaves Jon Woods' 6,623 shares as crucial to the control of the club. He is a firm Kenwright ally.
Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said: "We are always happy to hear from any potential source of funding but we have not had any formal approach from Stephen Vaughan nor his representatives."