Exclusive: Paladini closing in on deal to take over Bradford with final issues being sorted

GIANNI PALADINI’S attempt to take charge of Bradford City has moved a step closer following a successful day of talks, The Yorkshire Post understands.

Gianni Paladini was spotted at Bradford Citys Apperley Bridge training ground yesterday (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire).

The former QPR chairman was at Valley Parade yesterday with his legal team to meet joint chairmen, Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes.

Paladini signed an exclusivity agreement with the Bantams’ board several weeks ago after first registering his possible interest in the League One club at the start of the year.

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That exclusive period, though, is understood to expire on Friday this week – something that has brought added urgency to Paladini’s attempts to complete his 100 per cent buyout.

It is believed the May 1 deadline to agree the takeover – with an additional fortnight or so factored in to then conclude matters – can be extended if necessary.

However, with club affairs such as contract negotiations and season tickets sales having to be put on hold while talks have been on-going, there is a desire on both sides to bring matters to a close.

Much of the necessary due diligence into City’s affairs by Paladini’s team is now understood to have been concluded.

There still remains, though, a couple of outstanding issues which necessitated yesterday’s meeting between the respective legal teams.

None is expected to be too serious, a belief given added weight by Italian Paladini being spotted at Bradford’s Apperley Bridge training ground yesterday afternoon.

A meeting with manager Phil Parkinson was understood to be the reason for the Italian’s visit.

News of the 69-year-old’s interest in the Bantams broke earlier this month when his registering of a new company called ‘Bradford City Holdings Ltd’ in February became public.

It forced the club’s hand in admitting an exclusivity agreement had been signed between the two parties.

Rhodes and Lawn, who joined forces in 2007 when the latter joined the board, have continually stressed they are open to potential investment. The Rhodes family spent – and, ultimately, lost – millions keeping the Bantams alive during the fall-out from the club’s two stints in administration, in 2002 and 2004.

Lawn, meanwhile, lent the club a seven-figure sum soon after coming on board that was only repaid in the wake of Bradford reaching the 2013 League Cup final.

Both men admit they do not have the resources to bankroll a sustained push for success.

Instead, the past three seasons have seen an approach adopted whereby City kick off facing a substantial financial deficit that has to be made up by either player transfers or Cup runs.

The run to this season’s 
FA Cup quarter-finals saw a £1m deficit wiped out and come the end of the financial year in June the club expects to post a profit of around £800,000.

As keen as Lawn and Rhodes are to secure investment, the pair have continually stressed that any interested party must have the club’s best interests at heart.

Paladini is the first prospective buyer to have serious talks since Guiseley director Steve Parkin’s unsuccessful bid in 2011 to buy City and the Bulls RL club.

Should Paladini conclude a deal, supporters will then eagerly await details of how much financial support will be provided to Parkinson, whose contract runs until the summer of 2016.

As has been the case in his previous involvement with clubs, the Italian is not expected to put money into Bradford himself. Instead, he would bring on board wealthy backers.

At QPR – whom he left in 2011, shortly after promotion to the Premier League – he secured the financial clout of friends Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore.