The takeover saga at National League crisis club Gateshead looks to be drawing to a conclusion as supporter-led consortium moved close to completing a takeover.
After a long-drawn out process, a consortium led by Neil Pinkerton and Trevor Clark have completing legal paperwork in order to complete the purchase of the club from owner Dr Ranjan Varghese.
The deal will bring an end to a tumultuous reign for the Hong Kong-based businessman and brings together two parties that were bidding for control of the club.
Both Pinkerton and Clark made offers to Varghese and the club’s controversial financial advisor Joseph Cala over the last fortnight – with the former believing that he had struck a deal last week.
However, confusion and frustration reigned as the deal dragged on as Varghese failed to sign a share transfer form that would have seen Pinkerton take formal control of the club.
Friday brought a further blow for Gateshead as they were fined £3,500 and were suspended from the National League after an investigation found that the club have multiple breaches of the league’s financial regulations.
The most severe punishment handed out by the league has seen the club suspended from the competition and they have been refused a licence to compete in non-league football’s top tier next season.
That decision saw Pinkerton and Clark combine their efforts to finally bring an end to Varghese’s ownership and a breakthrough has now been made.
After weeks of disharmony, Varghese has now returned the relevant paperwork – including the contract and share transfer form - to the consortium’s legal team and ratification of the change of ownership from the FA and National League is next on the agenda.
Pinkerton and Clark released a statement confirming the situation.
It read “A consortium, headed by Neil Pinkerton and Trevor Clark, have undertaken and completed the necessary legal paperwork to purchase the club from Dr Ranjan Varghese, subject to ratification from the relevant authorities.
“We wish to place on record, our sincerest gratitude towards PG Legal that have helped to enable this complex and arduous purchase.
“Rest assured that all deadlines to the National League and the FA will be met, to ensure compliance and, to hopefully overturn the sanctions which were rightly imposed on the club. It is imperative that we safeguard our ten-year affinity at the top of the non-league pyramid for at least the 2019/20 season.”
The statement went on to reassure Gateshead supporters that the consortium will look to ensure that “stability and integrity” will be the focus as the club looks to move on from a testing period in their history.
It said “We appreciate there will be many questions and not necessarily an abundance of answers in the coming days.
“However, rest assured that fellow fans have every right to be as excited as we are, as we head into a new era, with not only a club we can call our own, but one that has the stability and integrity it has been missing.
“There are relationships and bridges to be built, but with the correct people at the helm, we will do it. Transparency and honesty are key to what is, foremost, a community asset.
“We look forward to drawing a line under the past and hope to have some exciting announcements in the coming days.”
The new owners have a number of pressing issues to contend with, including the situation surrounding the club’s ban from their International Stadium home and the appeal against the sanctions placed upon them by the National League.