Canaries name their price - £56m

NORWICH City have thrown down the gauntlet to billionaire businessman Peter Cullum by telling him to come up with at least £56m if he wants to buy the club.

NORWICH City have thrown down the gauntlet to billionaire businessman Peter Cullum by telling him to come up with at least £56m if he wants to buy the club.

In a statement, club officials said the Norwich-born entrepreneur would have to top up his offer of £20m for new players with:

- £16m to buy up shares at the current issue price of £30 each

- £16m to pay off City's bank debt, which would be called in if a takeover went through

- £4m to repay loans from directors - almost certainly including the £2m pumped in by Andrew and Sharon Turner.

The robust retort came at the end of a day of excitement and fevered speculation among Canaries' fans dreaming of Mr Cullum's money taking them back to the Premiership promised land.

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The official club statement will have dampened some of the excitement, and could be the catalyst for some fierce negotiations between the two sides.

It said: “In the light of headlines in the press we thought it would be helpful to supporters to share the process the club uses when evaluating any potential investment in Norwich City FC.

“We look at the individual, we look at what they want to achieve and we look at the financial viability of their proposition.

“In the case of someone seeking to take control of the club and at the same time invest £20m in the playing squad this would take a minimum of £56m.”

The statement went on: “In the last 12 months we have talked to a number of potential investors. We have also reviewed a number of different propositions.

“Unfortunately none of these investors has made a proposal which we have considered financially viable. Notwithstanding this the board remains open minded about future investment and will continue to seek new investors and evaluate their propositions.”

Mr Cullum was not contactable after the statement was made, but before the club broke its silence he confirmed that he was serious about his offer.

He said: “I would be very happy to sit down with the board and discuss how this could work going forward.

“Of course the devil is in the detail but based on what I know I am also happy to re-confirm the indicative offer to Norwich City with the aim of significantly improving the squad.

“This is one decision for which I am happy to let my heart rule, although clearly my rational financial brain will not be left in the toilet - this would be about putting the team I support in a position where we would become serious contenders for the Premiership.”

He added: “Naturally any transaction of this size would require access to the accounts in order to complete a financial health check.

“Delia and Michael have had a 12-year emotional attachment and enjoy a great relationship with what is a fantastic set of fans. I could certainly understand why they may be reticent regarding the prospect of relinquishing overall control. However, as I have stated earlier, I would see them having a high profile role going forward.”

In October Mr Cullum offered to put in £5m to buy players to get Norwich out of the then relegation battle - followed by £15m at the start of this season to launch a promotion challenge.

The former Norwich Youth player, who as executive chairman of insurance giant Towergate Partnership is said to be worth £1.7bn and stands 40th in the Sunday Times Rich List, said the £20m would see him take over as majority shareholder from current joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn Jones.