BARNSLEY owner Patrick Cryne has reaffirmed his willingness to sell the League One outfit – but only to the right calibre of prospective buyers.
The millionaire businessman has bankrolled his hometown club – who take on Oxford United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley tomorrow afternoon – for over a decade, with the club having been indebted to his considerable financial generosity.
This is borne out by the club’s latest financial figures, with their accounts for the 2014-15 season recently revealing that the Reds made a loss of just over £3m – which was offset by Cryne’s sizeable personal contribution of £2.9m in ‘future share subscriptions’.
Cryne remains financially committed to the Reds, whom he has followed since the age of five, but says he is willing to sell the club to the right purchasers at the right juncture and also acknowledges the need to build a ‘succession plan’.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “I have said for a while that when the time is right in terms of ensuring the continuance of the football club is certain, then it is time for me to move on.
“Not because I am out of love with it, that is certainly not the case. But what you have to recognise is you are getting older and can’t leave things to chance.
“If I went under the proverbial bus, what is the future of the football club?
“So from that perspective, there needs to be a succession plan to be prepared to be put in place to ensure that continuance.
“What I have said is I will go as soon as is practicable and will ensure that the football club continues to operate safely for the future. That is the statement I have made and something I will stick with.”
Former Reds head coach Lee Johnson will be in attendance at Wembley tomorrow, having been invited by Cryne as his guest despite leaving for Bristol City in the aftermath of the club booking a place at Wembley after beating Fleetwood on penalties in February. Cryne insists the club bear no ill feeling to Johnson despite his sudden exit.
He said: “Lee is a good friend and will remain so. He had to make a decision in the interests of his family and career and he worked with the club to make sure we had an infrastructure in place. We now have Paul Heckingbottom in place and he is doing a good job. Lee should take credit for the fact we got here.”
Final build-up: Pages 4-5
Cryne interview: Page 12