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Thai media giants eye Bolton takeover

29 October 2014, 17:33

Bangkok - A Thai consortium are in talks over a 40 million pounds ($64.5 million) takeover of English second tier strugglers Bolton Wanderers after being approached by the cash-strapped club, local media reported on Wednesday.

Bolton, however, denied they had been in sale discussions with anyone from Thailand.

BEC-Tero, an entertainment conglomerate that runs television and radio stations in south east Asia as well as concerts and sports events, and local sports media giant Siam Sport Syndicate have joined hands for the bid, said the Nation newspaper.

Bolton finished sixth in the Premier League in 2005 and qualified for European competition but have fallen on hard times of late and now find themselves in 22nd place in the 24-team second flight with huge debts.

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BEC director Bryan Marcar said the club, based in north west England and owned by Eddie Davies through the holding company Burnden Leisure, remained an attractive prospect.

"I must admit I have a close relationship with the club's president. The club has plenty of property and, most importantly, they have their own stadium, hotel and football academy," he was quoted as saying by the daily.

"In terms of their financial status they made profits between 2004 and 2006 but suffered losses since then, with their debt now standing at 150 million pounds. However, the club is willing to address this situation.

"They're quite ready in almost every aspect. That will help us benefit in many ways especially when it comes to Thai players playing in England."

Gartside Denial

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside confirmed the club had talked to different parties about a sale but said no discussions had taken place with anyone from Thailand.

"We have spoken to several parties who have expressed interest in investing in the club but these quotes from Thailand come as a complete surprise to me," he told the Bolton News.

"Other than what has appeared this morning it is business as usual here."

Marcar, who declined an interview request from Reuters, said he and Siam Sport executives Pongsak Pholanan and Wiluck Lohtong would travel to England to look into the books and discuss the deal further with Bolton officials, the report added.

The consortium could become the third Thai owners of an English soccer club, after Premier League side Leicester City and second tier Reading.

The firm, which Marcar owns jointly with Broadcaster BEC World Pcl, also owns former Thai Premier League champions BEC Tero Sasana.

The club employs former Chelsea manager Avram Grant as a technical director and once had ex-England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson as head coach.

It also has links with Brazilian club Cruzeiro and are close to announcing a deal with an unnamed Italian Serie A side, Marcar said.

Bolton have recently appointed Neil Lennon as manager with the former Northern Ireland international winning two of his first three games in charge.

($1 = 0.6197 British pound)

- Reuters


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