Port Vale: Valiants close to new era as Football League officials prepare to meet takeover duo
PAUL Wildes and Norman Smurthwaite will meet Football League officials tomorrow as they edge closer to finalising their deal to take over Port Vale.
The business partners will be questioned on their blueprint for the club as part of the governing body's increasingly-stringent Fit and Proper Persons Test.
Administrator Bob Young is confident the pair will have all the answers and says deals are normally signed, sealed and delivered within 10 days of such meetings.
He said: "The Football League want to meet with the purchasers, as they do with all purchasers, and they have all the information we think they need.
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"The officials will then report to the Football League board and I am not aware of any issues which could hold up completion, when contracts and money are exchanged.
"It is proving to be a much more simple deal than with (former prospective owner) Keith Ryder so we are hopeful it will be ready to complete.
"It all takes longer than we want, but the Football League are more careful about approving a club's new owners than they perhaps have been in the past and I can understand why."
Young was meeting with lawyers yesterday after Wildes and Smurthwaite returned their £1.25m sale contract for minor amendments.
He said: "Their lawyers have added one or two comments, but there are no major sticking points.
"I've been talking to Paul and Norman this week and I'm pretty comfortable that the deal will progress smoothly."
Young's firm Begbies Traynor remain in control behind the scenes at Vale Park for the moment.
But venture capitalist Wildes and retired finance expert Smurthwaite have been frequent visitors to Vale Park to size up how they will run the operation.
The duo were unveiled as the new preferred bidders for the club mid-way through last month.
Young said: "They are getting on very well and have been down to the ground on a regular basis lining things up for when they are in charge.
"The club has been in administration for too long, but now the end is in sight."
In the run-up to taking command, Wildes and Smurthwaite have been keen to gauge fans' opinions on how the match-day experience could be improved.
Gary Benson, of the Port Vale Supporters' Club, is now busy sorting hundreds of suggestions into different categories ready to hand over to the prospective new owners.
He said: "We have had lots of texts, emails, letters and forum posts discussing everything from catering to the team, stands and ticket prices.
"There might be a couple of daft ideas, but there are loads of genuinely thoughtful suggestions and supporters have left no stone unturned.
"Paul and Norman seem approachable and have already had staff at the club in preparation for when their deal is completed, which is certainly more than Keith Ryder ever did."