Tycoon's £20m Canaries investment bid

ONE of Britain's wealthiest men has claimed that he wants to invest £20 million into Norwich City.

ONE of Britain's wealthiest men has claimed that he wants to invest £20 million into Norwich City.

Life-long Canaries fan Peter Cullum, who is said to be worth £1.7 billion, revealed he had made joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones an informal offer in October last year, when City were five points adrift at the foot of the Championship.

And, despite talks breaking down, Mr Cullum said the offer still stood - and revealed a vision for City's future that is sure to have fans contemplating a return to the top-flight.

He said he wanted to become majority shareholder, supported by Delia and her husband Mr Wynn Jones, and possibly make some changes to the board, including appointing “someone from the supporters' club”.

The 57-year-old executive chairman of the award-winning Towergate Partnership, who is ranked in the top 40 of Britain's rich-list, said there was “no question of any hostility”, and said he wanted to keep Delia on board as the “figurehead and icon”.

He said he admired her “fantastic support for the club”.

Most Read

Mr Cullum said he was not interested in taking a place on the board but would appoint some of his own people to “create an exciting strategy for the club”.

He said: “I don't believe I can ever make money out of a football club. This is about passion and love for the club. But I'm not prepared to put that sort of money into the club without having control. I don't mean becoming Darth Vader and toasting everybody, though.”

He added: “I don't want to be the front person for the football club - that's Delia. I don't want fame and publicity. If there is to be some sort of deal I would like it to be on friendly terms.

“The £20m is an investment that is very unlikely to yield a good return other than emotional, and it's something I've always wanted to do.”

But he said he was not going to keep putting more and more money into the club, adding: “I'm not an English version of Roman Abramovich. I don't want to mislead people. But I'm keen to lend my commercial acumen and know-how to help the club move forward.”

“I, like all Norwich City supporters, am keen to know what the plans for the future are, particularly in terms of any new investment.”

Mr Cullum once played for Norwich City Boys and was a regular on the Carrow Road terraces from the 1950s onwards. He said he used to sell sweets outside the ground to earn £1 to get in for free to watch his heroes, who included Terry Bly and Welsh centre-forward Ron Davies.

He revealed the sensational background to today's revelation in the Eastern Daily Press.

He said: “I had dinner with Charles Clarke and I then realised that the sole aim of the dinner was for him to persuade me to provide some finance for Norwich City.

“I made contact in October last year with City chief executive Neil Doncaster. Norwich were bottom of the league, five points adrift and in trouble. I had conference calls with Delia, Michael, Andrew Turner and Neil Doncaster about what I was prepared to do.”

Mr Cullum offered to hand over £5m to buy “three or four players” to help the club avoid relegation - and another £15m this season to “make them strong contenders for promotion to the Premiership”.

But, with Mr Cullum's offer set to make him the new majority shareholder, talks did not progress. Mr Cullum said there had been “no contact” since the turn of the year.

He said: “We had a friendly arm-wrestle based on the valuation of the club.”

Mr Cullum said any takeover deal would see City carrying on with current manager Glenn Roeder at the helm. He said: “I'm a fan of his.”

He said: “My main motivation last year was survival. The idea of Norwich going down to League One was horrific. Just ask any Leicester City fans.”

But he said the aim of the investment was to “give the club the opportunity to increase the quality of players and have a good shout of getting into the Premiership”. And he added: “Once you get to the Premiership you start to get serious money and have a chance of staying up if you spend the money wisely.”

Mr Cullum paid tribute to City's “tremendous” support.

“The support Norwich City get is phenomenal for a Championship club. I went to see Norwich v Ipswich at Carrow Road last year. After 20 minutes Ipswich were 2-0 up, but 20,000 people started to lift the team. I felt very emotional. Norwich almost won the game. I thought 'what a tremendous support base'.”

And Mr Cullum, who has an executive box at Carrow Road and comes up from his base in Kent whenever he can, reiterated his love for the fans by saying: “I believe too many clubs are run for the sole benefit of the players and the manager. Supporters are often third in line. I would like to have a member of the supporters' club on the board.”