Cullum to meet Norwich City board

THE Norwich City Football Club board has today agreed to meet billionaire Peter Cullum and discuss his bid to take control of the Canaries.

THE Norwich City Football Club board has today agreed to meet billionaire Peter Cullum and discuss his bid to take control of the Canaries.

Mr Cullum, boss of insurance giant Towergate, was today invited to meet majority shareholders Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones to discuss the club's future.

The news comes a week after the 57-year-old, boss of insurance giant Towergate, revealed he wanted to stump up £20m to take over at Carrow Road.

However, fans' initial excitement at a possible cash injection to buy new players quickly turned to anger when it emerged the club turned down his initial approach last year and no discussions had taken place since.

But today the self-confessed city fan - who is worth an estimated £1.7bn - said: “Delia and Michael have had a change of heart and felt it would be worthwhile sitting down to discuss the parameters.

“At this stage it is still just an indicative offer. We are going to look at whether a deal can be done. At least we are talking now, before there was no dialogue.

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“I greatly admire what Delia and Michael have done for the club and want them to be a part of it going forward.”

The latest twist comes as Mr Cullum was growing fearful that the chances of a deal being done were growing slimmer by the day.

Mr Cullum says he offered the club an initial £5m last October on the basis that an extra £15m would be provided if the Canaries avoided relegation.

He had hoped the money would be enough to propel the side back to the Premier League.

In return the businessman said he wanted to become majority shareholder, supported by Delia and her husband, and possibly make some changes to the board, including appointing someone from a supporters club.

However, when news of the offer emerged last week, club officials responded by stating that it would cost £56m to gain control of the club.

The board has made no further comment since that initial evaluation, however it is believed that they are claiming no further talks have taken place because no formal offer has been made.

Mr Cullum added: “I admire what Delia and Michael have done and want to work with them. I would want two-thirds of the share-holding for the £20m investment. With that level of share-holding (a majority); it would mean the club is in my control - and I was informed that was a complete no-no for Michael and Delia.

“They have said it costs £56m to buy Norwich City - technically they are right but that assumes that the debt has to be repaid - there might be clauses with the loan providers - but I know those providers would be happy to renegotiate with me.

“But the aim was not to give £20m just to pay off the debts - what is the point in that? It was about getting in new players.

“Any club getting 25-26,000 in the Championship every week deserves better than another relegation fight.”

Mr Cullum said his intention throughout the process so far has only been to help the club improve its current fortunes.

He added: “I am not expecting a return, just the huge amount of satisfaction and emotion you can get from supporting Norwich. It is a drug; but yes, it's also a business.”

In some quarters Mr Cullum has been criticised for going public with the deal, but he said he felt the time was right to finally do so.

He said: “I have had lots of approaches from journalists over the years and this time I decided to say I had made an indicative offer, the calls came after Delia made some comments at the Norfolk Show, from people assuming I was the likely investor.”

Despite fearing the deal would not go ahead, Mr Cullum had only praise for the club and its current manager Glenn Roeder.

He added: “Everyone I speak to about football is very positive about the football club, it has a great reputation.

“I just go back to that Ipswich game at home. Even my wife - who doesn't really like football - was amazed at what she saw. It was great support and a great performance.

“I am wishing the players and the manager all the best for the coming season, I want them to have success.

“Roeder's networking skills were a huge reason as to why the club stayed up; being able to bring in good players like Ched Evans. I was very impressed by that. He undertook the sort of work and management I admire.”

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