Newport County are today on the brink of a substantial cash injection to help make their dream of a return to the Football League a reality.
A consortium of businessmen led by former director Matt Southall have confirmed their interest in joining the club.
The Argus first revealed the existence of the group of potential investors when reporting on the resignation of chairman Chris Blight, who revealed that he had been in contact with Southall over the matter. It is understood the consortium wants to invest in and help with the running of the club, although not all would become board members.
Southall broached the subject with Blight a week prior to his resignation but talks are set to begin again with a view to the new backers getting involved after County’s Annual General Meeting on August 20.
Euro Millions lottery winner Les Scadding has already announced via the Argus his intention to sit on the board of directors and Howard Greenhaf, County’s only other current director, insists the club would welcome any fresh investment .
“This has never not been the case, we welcome any talks with potential investors as we did yesterday and would tomorrow,” he said.
“Obviously we would need cast iron assurances, not just promises but if people of the calibre you are mentioning wanted to get involved the better off we would all be.
“We would never look a gift horse in the mouth and only want what is best for the club.
“But I must stress at the moment it is only speculation.
“We haven’t had any contact about this since the email exchanges you’ve already reported on.”
Southall, managing director of Acorn Recruitment, would be returning for a second spell as a director if he opts to take up a post and his company are already the Exiles’ principal sponsors.
Other men thought to be keen on getting involved (though not all as directors) are Mark Crook, joint managing director of Newport-based Henry Howard Finance and Newport stockbroker Dan O’Connell, though that number could swell.
It is understood the consortium would work in tandem with a Friends of Newport County organisation, which would be set up by long-time fan Rob Santrwis, former chairman John Williams and Andrew Morrison.
The idea of the Friends of Newport County would be that it would function as a business persons club with every member contributing funds directly to the club, similar to last season’s player fund in January.
The Exiles already have plans to announce three new directors themselves this week, including two from the Supporters’ Trust and also recently announced club president David Hando as their interim chairman.
Acorn’s Southall, who has just returned from a holiday, was happy to confirm to supporters where plans currently stand.
“Nothing firm has been put to the football club and nothing has changed in the past few weeks, though I am happy to make our interest known,” he said.
“At the moment I can’t give you firm commitments about how much we’d be putting in but we want to help the club.
“It wouldn’t just be about the individuals – and hopefully there will be several more than the three of us named today – but would also be about embracing key supporters like Rob Santwris who can also raise revenue for the club.
“We haven’t got to a formal stage yet. We haven’t even drawn up a business plan because we need to see the numbers at the club and talk with Howard Greenhaf and David Hando.
“Chris (Blight) departing has slowed things up and people have been on holiday but I want to be clear that there is a desire on our part to help the club.
“There is a good feeling with the move to Rodney Parade and hopefully things can pick up in the coming weeks.
“Things need to be done properly but after we’ve sat down and talked with the club and made plans we will put supporters in the picture.”
Director of football Tim Harris made clear that until anything concrete is announced the club will continue to operate to the budgets they’ve previously set out.
“From my point of view and that of Justin Edinburgh, on the football side we are just going to keep doing what we are doing,” he said.
“Justin has built a squad based on quality rather than quantity and he’s very happy with the business we’ve been able to do and so am I.
“If we are told otherwise and the situation changes for the better then great, but we are pleased with the way the squad is taking shape and are just focused on the start of the season and producing the goods on the pitch.”