Proposed takeover of Barnsley in serious doubt

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THE proposed £20m takeover of Barnsley – involving baseball legend Billy Beane – is believed to be on the brink of collapse.

A consortium including Chinese businessman Chien Lee, American investor Paul Conway and ‘Moneyball’ baseball executive Beane – minority owner of USA baseball team Oakland Athletics – had been in advanced talks with club officials regarding the purchase of a 98.5 per cent stake in the Reds.

The takeover had been tipped to be completed last month, but it is understood that no contact has been made by the group since proof of funds were asked for around a fortnight ago.

Beane has previous experience of working in football, having been hired by Dutch club AZ Alkmaar as an adviser, and is a regular spectator at San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS.

Lee and Conway have previously been interested in purchasing Middlesbrough and Hull.

The deal has reportedly been brokered by Alexander Jarvis and Blackbridge, a company that has advised on a number of foreign investments in English football.

The club are not commenting on the latest reports.

Today’s game sees Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher make his first return to Oakwell since his successful loan spell at the club in the second half of 2015-16 when he helped the Reds to Wembley glory in the space of 59 days.

But despite his depth of feeling for the club and manager Paul Heckingbottom, who advised him ahead of his move to Teesside in the summer, Fletcher is chiefly focusing on business and not sentiment today.

Both Fletcher and Boro are yet to impress so far this season, with a timely boost being sought this afternoon in front of a 4,700 away following.

He said: “I have got fond memories of my time there and it will be a nice day out for my family as well.

“It is somewhere where I have had success.

“But, overall, I am looking forward to getting three points, which is vital, and putting on a performance for the travelling fans.”