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Yeung shelves Birmingham City takeover plan

21 December 2007 12:48

HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung will shelve plans to take over Birmingham City after the English Premier League club terminated talks with the tycoon, Yeung's company said Friday.

Sammy Yu, the chief operating officer of Grandtop International, insisted money was not an issue but cited as the major hurdle Birmingham's reluctance to allow the company to get further involved with the club.

"We hope that we will own this club. But we also want to understand the club better. Disappointingly, until today, not a member of our company can go into the football club and learn about their operations," Yu told AFP.

"They have been promised that we can get onto their board but so far we cannot join in" despite being the club's major shareholder, he said.

"Even if you buy a house, you want to take a look at it first before you buy it but if you cannot even see it, how can you buy it? So we feel that it's not the best time to take over the club.

"We have decided to temporarily shelve the takeover plan," Yu added.

Yeung had been set a deadline of December 21 to complete his proposed takeover of the Blues, but owners David Gold and David Sullivan admitted this week that there was no way the deal could be done in time.

In an announcement to the Stock Exchange on Thursday, Birmingham ended months of uncertainty over whether Yeung and his Grandtop International associates would complete a buy-out of the club, having bought a 29.9 percent stake in July for 15 million pounds (30 million US dollars).

Media reports have suggested that Yeung failed to prove he can raise 35 million pounds to buy out the Blues co-owners' remaining 70.5 percent.

But Yu insisted: "This is completely unrelated to money. Money is not the biggest problem. Mr Yeung can give money out himself. But it's their attitude that makes this deal difficult to do."

Birmingham chairman Gold, who took over City with Sullivan 15 years ago when the club was near financial collapse, said: "The silence has been deafening from Hong Kong. Our dealings with Carson Yeung have been very brief."

Yu said he was puzzled about the deadline imposed on Yeung and there was communication problems between both sides.

"We feel strange...clearly there was no deadline," he said, adding that Yeung and Sullivan had agreed to develop the Chinese market together.

"But after we bought the 29.9 percent stake, the story was different," he said.

"We hoped to communicate and ensure every stage was good. We are not difficult to reach. We want to communicate and make this work," he said, adding neither side has spoken to each other since the termination of the talks.

Yu did not give a timeline as to when talks will resume, nor would he admit that the deal is dead, saying he still sees potential in the club.

"We have to build up a healthy communication channel first. They will have to give us confidence, some kind of support to make this work," he said.

"We want to buy this football club, we are not playing. It would be irresponsible of us not to do this properly," he added.

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Championship table

# Team MP D P
13 22 -4 28
14 22 -5 28
15 22 -8 28
16 22 -5 26
17 22 -11 25

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