The key Sunderland takeover claims made by William Storey in a curious interview: his backers, wealth and big signings
Energy drink entrepreneur William Storey has once again spoken at length about his interest in buying Sunderland AFC during a curious interview.
The Rich Energy founder and chief executive publicly announced his bid for the Black Cats last month, and has gone on to promise £50million of investment from him and his backers.
And on a day in which Storey was pictured in Sunderland – supposedly in the same Roker location as Sunderland CEO Jim Rodwell – he spoke to BBC Radio Newcastle’s Total Sport programme to discuss his takeover plans.
During a 20-minute interview, the Richmond native made a number of gutsy claims about his bid, his backers and his plans moving forward – many of which have left supporters highly skeptical.
Here’s the key claims made by Storey during that interview:
Storey has repeatedly talked-up his bid, and has made a number of bullish claims over its strength in comparison to the other parties at the table.
This latest interview was no different, with Storey claiming his bid was ‘miles ahead’ of anything else being proposed.
While current owner Stewart Donald is claiming to be in a period of exclusivity with another interested group, the entrepreneur doesn’t seem to be deterred.
"I stand in a very, very, straightforward position,” he said.
"I have put the best bid on the table, I have massive backing from four of the biggest names in Europe, let alone Britain, in terms of business, all of whom you will have heard of.
"I have put a bid on the table that I know for a fact is miles ahead of anyone else," he continued.
"I think I have the best plan, the best funding, and the best overall package to take the club forward.
"I'm talking from the stance of a very passionate football supporter who has a long-term plan for the club.
"I'm not a finance suit, I'm not some spreadsheet Johnny who is looking to take the club over and nick it and flip it on, I'm here because I think Sunderland has unique potential, it's a natural Premier League club and these kind of opportunities don't come along very often.”
Storey, a West Ham United supporter – who is also understood to have a close relationship with David Sullivan and David Gold – was also quizzed on why he had targeted Sunderland.
"I'm a massive football fan and there's no question that, for anyone who knows about football, Sunderland is ones of the biggest clubs in Europe, never mind the UK,” he said.
"They have won the league six times, they have one of the most passionate and knowledgeable fanbases in the game, they have a phenomenal area that has been a conveyor-belt for talent over the last few decades, and it is a club with enormous prestige.
"Frankly, I'm a bit incredulous that they are languishing in League One.
"With the right plan, people, and funding, they have almost unlimited potential and there are very, very few clubs that any passionate football fans would get excited about but I think Sunderland are, to say the least, a sleeping giant.
"The main objective for me is to take this club out of the doldrums and back towards the pinnacle of British football."
Storey went on to suggest that if a bid for Sunderland failed, he would not turn his attention to another club.
Storey has repeatedly said that he will be backed by four high-profile business associates, all of whom currently remain nameless.
Sunderland fans, understandably, remain skeptical given the lack of detail that has been provided about those backing Storey – and who will be providing most of the finance, given that Storey has confirmed that he will only be injecting 15 per cent of the capital personally.
"Eighty-five percent of the money is coming from four significant backers, all of whom you'd have heard of, all are blue-chip names in business,” he told the BBC.
This was naturally a red flag for some supporters, especially given long-standing concerns over Storey’s own personal wealth.
But despite his modest injection of funds compared to the other backers, Storey plans to install himself as chairman if his bid is successful.
The role his backers will take on remains unclear, as does their identities.
Storey dropped a few vague and unconvincing hints as to their pedigree by stating that two of the four had previously been involved in sports – and promised to name them all ‘shortly’, once his non-disclosure agreement expired.
"I will be shortly,” he said, when asked if he could name the quartet.
"But I can't at the moment because of the NDA, although obviously the club are aware of those people.”
When pressed on when the non-disclosure agreement expired, Storey said it was ‘in the hands of lawyers’.
Perhaps the most bullish claim of all made by Storey was his insistence that he has five high-pedigree players lined-up to join the Black Cats – in spite of the new financial controls imposed on League One clubs.
"I have worked on this for five months,” he said.
"I have managed to get four unbelievable names from the world of business to back it, and I've even gone so far as to identify five players already who we can bring to the club pretty quickly.
"I think you're aware there's a new salary cap and how that might work, but the reality is that there's always a way within the rules to optimise what a club can do."
Major question marks remain over Storey’s personal wealth, with Companies House showing company accounts from 2017 with just £581 in the bank.
This naturally has supporters concerned, as too does the entrepreneur’s ill-fated involvement with the Haas F1 team.
But Storey claims that many things said about him in the press are ‘ill-informed rubbish’.
“An awful lot of the stuff that is written about me in the press, particularly about the Formula One fiasco, is complete nonsense and I think that will come out in due course and I think I will be wholly vindicated,” he said.
"Last May, Rich Energy - which is a company I created from scratch in 2015 - was valued at more than £100m, and I then had Red Bull who are the biggest name in the industry worth £40bn come after me, which most people in business would take as a compliment, by the way, and take me to court in two cases.
"I had some investors try to steal the business and they did a deal with Haas behind my back.
"Again, that was a compliment. I created tremendous value and they tried to take the company off me, I fought back and got a lot of bad press in the process.
"I've created a lot of businesses and this nonsense about what is in an account is from one company - I have interests in about 15 companies, by the way - from one set of accounts in 2017.
"It's ill-informed rubbish."