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Fan-led group step aside from takeover bid citing 'other commitments'; were they really serious?

The Sunderland-supporting executives behind TV company Fulwell73 have announced their intent to step aside in their apparent efforts to buy the club from current owner Ellis Short.

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

TV production company Fulwell73 have released a statement via fanzine A Love Supreme to indicate their intent to step aside in the battle to take control of the relegated club.

The Sunderland-supporting executives behind the bid - which was thought to be backed by American investors - have concluded now is not the right time for them to get involved due to their other commitments.

The statement from the production executives Leo Pearlman, Ben Turner and Gabe Turner is addressed to Sunderland supporters and published on ALS reads:

As life-long Sunderland supporters, it would be the fulfilment of a dream to be involved in the ownership of the club, to put it back into the hands of the fans and to give the whole of Wearside a team to be proud of.

Our club is the biggest in the North East, should be one of the biggest in the country and the Premier League is therefore the only place it belongs. We have been so touched and inspired by the reaction from our fellow supporters, who rightly deserve their reputation as the best fans in the world.

However, due to our other TV and film commitments, now isn't the right time for us to get involved.

It's where our hearts are and would demand a huge personal commitment, and we wouldn't want to give anything less than our all to the club. We owe that to all the other fans for whom, like us, SAFC is such an integral part of their histories and future.

Whether it is Mr Short who remains in control or new owners who come in, we will always support the lads and offer any assistance, at any level, in helping to re-establish this great club at the level it deserves to be‎.

A strangely worded statement in truth. There is little indication in it to suggest the group were ever especially serious about buying the club never mind gotten close to entering negotiations with Ellis Short or raising the necessary funds to do so.

Fulwell73

Indeed the wording reads more like the group seeking to quash the rumour which appeared in the newspapers on Monday that they were behind a takeover move.

The consortium were also said to involve former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams and ex-Chelsea director Paul Smith. At best perhaps Fulwell73 had considered getting involved in the planned consortium without getting much beyond first base.

Regardless, the withdrawal of that interest now appears to leave the other prospective buyers - the German-led consortium - as the only current viable takeover option on the table.

It is also possible that the Fulwell73 lads decided to duck out with grace upon learning the rival bid is set to imminently go through.

And there have been continued suggestions that the German group have been in pole position all along and may announce a decision in principle to buy Sunderland AFC by the end of the week.

Whether any other parties are anywhere near negotiating with Ellis Short right now seems doubtful despite suggestions there may be efforts elsewhere to attract investors to a third bid.