Notts County set for Middle East takeover

Notts County, the world's oldest football league club, said on Thursday that a Middle East consortium was taking them over in a multi-million pound deal. Notts, formed in 1862 but languishing in the lower reaches of the English League for many years, said on its website that Munto Finance Limited, owned by several Middle-East based businessmen, had agreed to buy the club once the usual financial diligence checks had been made.

Describing the deal as one worth "multi-millions" the club said in the statement: "The group wants complete control of the Magpies and has ambitious plans to restore the fortunes of the world's oldest football league club."

The club, who finished the recently ended season 19th in League Two, would become the fourth in England to be taken over by Middle Eastern interests following Premier League Manchester City, and Portsmouth, where due diligence tests are starting before they are acquired by new Arab owners.

Egyptian Mohamed Al Fayed has also owned Premier League Fulham for 12 years.

TAKEOVER PROCESS

The club's chairman John Armstrong-Holmes said in a statement that two of the Munto group were appointed to Notts County's board on Tuesday to assist in the takeover process.

He also told Sky Sports News the money involved was "substantial" and that the funds were in place for the takeover.

Asked why millionaire businessmen from the Middle East would want to invest in a club like Notts County, Armstrong-Holmes explained: "Manchester United are probably about a billion pounds in debt, something like that I hear, they have to spend about 50 million pounds plus a year just to service that debt.

"Liverpool were 300 million pounds in debt, they want another 300 million pounds or more for their new stadium, so when you look at Notts County as a proposition, rather than those propositions, what a success story.

"You can take the world's oldest football league club, progress it through the leagues gradually with a common sense approach, rather than throw all that money into a banker's pot or someone else's pot."

Despite being founder-members of the Football League in 1888, Notts County have had very little success. They won the FA Cup in 1894 but their best ever seasons in the top flight were third-placed finishes in 1891 and 1901.

They last played in the top division in the 1991/92 season - the final Division One season before the Premier League began.