Charlie Methven, co-owner of Charlton Athletic, reflects on the challenges he faced when dealing with William Storey, the prospective buyer of Reading, during his tenure as Chief Executive of Sunderland.
Last week, it was revealed by The Telegraph that Storey is on the verge of completing a £50 million takeover of Reading, contingent on passing the Football League’s fit and proper owners’ test. Storey is heading a consortium of wealthy investors aiming to acquire the club from Chinese businessman Dai Yongge. However, The Athletic (via Football League World) reported that it remains unclear what role the Rich Energy CEO will assume if the takeover is finalized, making it too early to determine if he will undergo the EFL’s ownership assessment.
Notably, Storey, a former sponsor for the Formula 1 team Haas, had previously attempted to purchase Sunderland and Coventry City a few years ago, according to journalist Courtney Friday. Nevertheless, he seems poised to succeed in acquiring a League One club on his third attempt. Charlie Methven, the former co-owner of Sunderland, confirmed Storey’s unsuccessful attempt to buy the Black Cats and shed light on the difficulties of dealing with the potential future chief of Reading.
In an interview with the Sunderland Echo, Methven even shared how he found amusement in Storey’s antics after the process concluded. Methven explained that Storey’s direct approach to the fanbase created complications. When someone suggests the feasibility of signing a group of Premier League players for a League One club, it makes life challenging for the current ownership, which knows such a move is impossible but lacks a counter-factual to prove it.
During this time, Sunderland was already in discussions with credible owners, the former owners of Marseille, the Louis-Dreyfus family. While their views on the club’s valuation might not be as extravagant as William Storey’s, they were deemed financially sound and likely to pass the EFL test. The deal with the Louis-Dreyfus family proceeded, and Methven eventually found humor in the entire Storey episode.
Being in the midst of such a situation can be quite time-consuming, with journalists and fan groups continually inquiring about the eccentric figure and why his offer wasn’t being accepted. Dealing with this can be tricky and consume a significant amount of time.
In retrospect, Storey’s public presence aligns with Methven’s recollection of his interactions with the 45-year-old when he attempted to acquire Sunderland a few years ago.