Sunderland hit back at US investor Matthew Pauls' takeover claims
Sunderland have hit back at claims by American hedge-funder Matthew Pauls and outlined why they did not proceed with his takeover bid for the club.
It comes amid claims in the Sun that Pauls is set to launch legal proceedings against the current owners of Sunderland and is targeting millions in damages over claims he had a £40million deal agreed with Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven and Juan Sartori to buy 90% of the club.
Pauls, 38, has claimed he completed due diligence and had lined up £2billion in non-football related projects for Wearside but the club insist he did not provide the necessary Proof of Funds, as required.
Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is in the process of buying the club and his takeover remains on track to be completed this month.
The 23-year-old Swiss has agreed a deal with Stewart Donald to purchase a majority shareholding in the club, the exact details of which are yet to be confirmed.
And with the pair having agreed terms, the only hurdle left is the EFL's owners and directors test.
However, Pauls told SunSport: “They used me in order to bide time to create a situation where they could find a replacement.”
Sunderland have strongly dismissed his claims and outlined why his bid was not progressed.
A Sunderland AFC statement read: “Following discussions in the late summer, Matthew Pauls submitted an acceptable bid for the acquisition of Sunderland AFC, as have several other bidders before and since.
“He was subsequently advised that Proof of Funds would be the necessary next step before the bid was submitted to the EFL.
“For two months, that Proof of Funds document was not forthcoming, despite numerous requests.
“In the absence of that, but having promised to sell the club, the Board decided to proceed with another option, at a lower valuation but with strong proof of funds.
“Eventually, in mid-December Matthew Pauls sent a Proof of Funds document insufficient to cover the agreed purchase price, let alone the amount required by the EFL to fund the club going forward.
“The funds were also in the name not of Mr Pauls but of an unknown third party individual.
“At that point - despite the original offer theoretically being an attractive one for the vendors - it would have been irresponsible with regards to the club to persist in discussions with Mr Pauls when there was a solid, transparent, well-financed option on the table."
Louis-Dreyfus is set to take charge at the Stadium of Light this month with the takeover on track.
There is no set length for how long the EFL owners' and directors' test takes for completion, with varying factors determining how quickly a deal is either approved or denied.
But Sunderland are hopeful that the deal will be given the green light by the middle of the month, with no issues anticipated with the test and approval of Louis-Dreyfus as a shareholder.
Indeed, EFL sources have indicated that the new national lockdown will not affect the speed of the test.