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Port Vale latest, new preferred bidder emerges

Football News 24/7
Officials at adminstrators, Begbies Traynor and at the club were keeping their own counsel as the possible identity of Port Vale's new owners was revealed earlier today in the local paper - The Sentinel.

The Sentinel have named Paul Wildes and his business associate Norman Smurthwaite as the men in pole position to become the new owners of Port Vale Football Club.

Wildes, a 35-year-old Sheffield-born venture capitalist, has a wide portfolio of business interests and is now based in the Cheshire area.

He is expected to link up with retired finance expert Smurthwaite, a fellow director of Altrincham-based firm Alchemy Investment Group, as part of a long-term plan to revive Vale's off-field fortunes.

Wildes was finance chief for Caudwell before leaving to launch his own company, the Mansion Group, in 2007. It specialised in developing student accommodation.

He put together a rescue package to save troubled Darlington Football Club earlier this year, but eventually pulled out after failing to reach a settlement with out-going chairman Raj Singh.

He had planned to make more of the Quakers' 27,000 seat stadium as a concert venue and training academy, and it is understood he could have similar plans for Vale Park.

Even if Wildes and Smurthwaite are formally named as preferred bidders, they will have to seek Football League approval before they can finally take charge of the club, which has been in administration since March.

The administrators have been seeking a buyer for the club since Lancashire businessman Keith Ryder failed to complete his £1.3m deal to take over at Vale Park in the summer.

What is clear, is that interested parties have been called to a meeting at the club on Tuesday and it is anticipated Bob Young from Begbies Traynor will be making an official announcement then.

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