Exclusive: Former Rochdale chairman Chris Dunphy on verge of Gateshead takeover
Former Rochdale chairman Chris Dunphy is on the verge of completing a takeover of Vanarama National League club Gateshead.
It is just under three weeks since Heed owner Dr Ranjan Varghese put the club up for sale in a move to placate supporters that have grown increasingly disillusioned with his ownership and the involvement of Chief Financial Advisor Joseph Cala.
There has been rumours of interest from within the North East and abroad, but the Echo understands that Dunphy is further down the takeover process.
The businessman is hopeful of striking a deal with Varghese and Cala within the next 48 hours and has signed a non-disclosure agreement with the club.
Dunphy has family links to the North East and made an initial visit to the region two weeks ago when he was given a tour of the International Stadium.
His accountants are currently examining Gateshead’s financial accounts before looking to submit an offer to the club in due course.
After initially spending time as a director at Rochdale, Dunphy was appointed as chairman in June 2006 and led the club through one of the most successful periods in their history.
During his time at the club, the Dale secured two promotions into League One and walked out at Wembley for the first time in the League Two play-off final in 2008.
His tenure also saw their Spotland home return to within the club’s control and several young players passed through the club’s system including the likes of former England striker Rickie Lambert, West Brom defender Craig Dawson and Aston Villa striker Scott Hogan – brother of former Heed captain Liam Hogan.
He brought an end to his time with his boyhood club in December 2018 and told Dale supporters “I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve the club that I have supported since I was a child, for over 30 years both as a director and the Chairman - it has seen me through births, deaths and even a couple of marriages!
“So, I would like to thank the club for the fantastic memories it has given me and all of you for the support you have given me throughout the years.”
Dunphy was also chairman when the League Two side put Gateshead out of the FA Cup at the first round stage with a 2-1 win at Spotland in November.
Gateshead supporters will be hopeful that a deal can be concluded as quickly as possible so that manager Ben Clark and his players can focus on their National League play-off push.
The Heed currently sit just two points outside of the top seven ahead of Saturday’s trip to bottom-of-the-table Braintree Town.