In a piece published today by the Times, reputable Irish football correspondent Paul Rowan has claimed that Niall Quinn is perhaps more involved with a potential buyout of Sunderland AFC from Ellis Short than he is letting on, and has named the investor that Quinn is working on behalf of that is interested in taking the club off the current owner’s hands.
In the article, the Journalist claims:
With Sunderland heading for League One, the endgame is in sight for the owner Ellis Short in his efforts to rid himself of what has been a disastrous investment and don’t expect Niall Quinn to be too far from the action when it comes to efforts to resuscitate the club.
Quinn was at pains to stress last week that he was not leading a consortium to take over the club, but he has been involved in brokering such a deal and the fruits of his labours could well result in the return of Irish investment to the North East, with Quinn always on the end of a phone.
Rowan then went on to name the investor in question - Cork-based businessman William O’Brien:
The Irish businessman in question is Cork-based William O’Brien — who runs a successful storage and crane hire operation from Bishopstown with links across Europe. “I take my hat off to you for your persistence, but I have no comment,” O’Brien said when contacted by The Times. Well-placed sources say that he has joined with some English investors ready to take the club off Short’s hands.
O’Brien’s track record suggests that his diversification into the business of owning and running a football club should not be taken lightly. The Wm O’Brien Group was set up in the 1950s by his father, also William, who died last year at the age of 89. It is an unlimited company and so it is difficult to gauge O’Brien’s financial worth, but the company has extensive interests across Europe, along with bases in Britain and France. The company was also heavily involved in the redevelopment of Croke Park and it is believed that the former Minister for Finance, Gene Fitzgerald, once worked for the company.
O’Brien is a former farmer and has travelled extensively in the Far East. The company’s slogan is: “Where O’Brien goes, Prosperity follows”.
He then added:
Many of the dealings regarding the sale are believed to centre around Lawlor’s Hotel in Naas, in which Quinn recently held a stake and is now owned by Jack Tierney, a former member of the consortium that sold Sunderland to Short. Attempts to contact Tierney through the hotel were unsuccessful yesterday.
Whatever appears to be going on behind the scenes isn’t quite clear, although it’s promising to hear such details and you can almost certainly assume that there is a strong possibility that the club will be in somebody else’s hands in the near future.
Roker Report learned earlier this week through sources close to a takeover deal that there are two serious offers on the table currently, one of which that appears to be using fellow Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme as a front in order to pass comment publicly.
Whether or not O’Brien is involved with one of those offers we aren’t quite sure, though if we do find out any further information that we can share with our readers we will of course endeavor to share that with you.