No go for Cullum

PUBLISHED: 09:58 16 October 2007 | UPDATED: 10:38 14 September 2010

CHRIS LAKEY

Millionaire businessman Peter Cullum will not be buying Norwich City Football Club.

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn Jones were on the verge of selling their majority interest in the struggling Canaries, with new directors Andrew and Sharon Turner rumoured to be a front for the 57-year-old Cullum.

Millionaire businessman Peter Cullum will not be buying Norwich City Football Club.

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn Jones were on the verge of selling their majority interest in the struggling Canaries, with new directors Andrew and Sharon Turner rumoured to be a front for the 57-year-old Cullum.

But the EDP has learned that Cullum - who once played in Norwich colours as a teenager - is concentrating his efforts on his company, insurance giant Towergate Partnership, which is said to be worth at least £700m.

In May it was reported that the company might list on the Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of around £3bn - valuing Cullum's stake at almost £2bn. And while figures like that would be music to the ears of City fans, it seems unlikely that any of it will find its way to Carrow Road.

While Cullum - the company's executive chairman - was unavailable for interview, a spokesman for the company said: “He is a loyal supporter of Norwich City.

“He is obviously concerned, like any other Norwich supporter, about recent performances.

“But he has no intention of buying the club.”

Asked whether or not Cullum - who played for Norwich as a schoolboy and once faced Arsenal legend Charlie George in a match - might be considering some sort of financial input, the spokesman said: “No.”

Norwich's board of directors have been keen to play down talk of a takeover, insisting that the team's faltering fortunes are their priority, but they face a tricky AGM on Thursday when they will be quizzed over the club's finances as well as the team's drop down the Championship table, which led to manager Peter Grant's departure last week.

As well as concern over the running of the club, City have to address the managerial situation, although it is believed to be unlikely that a replacement for Grant will be in place in time for this weekend's home game against Bristol City.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was linked with the post at the weekend, but is reportedly “mystified” at the reports which suggested his name was on Norwich City's wish-list.

Pulis was keeping mum yesterday but sources in the Potteries suggested that he was happy with his lot at the Britannia Stadium - even though there have been claims that his relationship with chairman Peter Coates has deteriorated in recent weeks.

Pulis has the necessary Championship experience that City's board of directors are keen on, but it's the name of Paul Jewell which remains a firm favourite with the bookies, one of whom is quoting him as 11-4 to take over.

Former Norwich players Ian Crook and Steve Bruce are highly fancied, but Crook has been away for a decade and Bruce is likely to have his sights set higher than the Championship relegation zone should his relationship with Birmingham turn sour when Carson Yeung completes his takeover.

Lack of experience would appear to rule out Dion Dublin, while Martin Allen has said the job interests him - as do the vacancies at Millwall and Port Vale.

Long shot Kevin Keegan - out of professional football since leaving Manchester City in March 2005 - says he will never return to football management.

“I don't think it will happen,” he said. “I think my life has gone in a different direction.”

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