WESTERN Sydney Wanderers executive chairman Lyall Gorman has hosed down reports that Manchester City made initial inquiries into buying the reigning A-League Premiers.
A story by the Australian Financial Review that two English Premier League clubs have shown interest in the FFA-bankrolled outfit has attracted global headlines.
Attention in local and UK media has focused on alleged inquiries from the wealthy 2011-12 EPL title winners owned by Sheikh Mansour, from Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.
UBS has been put in charge of the sale and Gorman will meet with reps from the investment bank on Thursday for his weekly briefing.
But he described recent coverage on the sale as “speculative” and said he was unaware of any tabled interest, approach or contact from EPL clubs.
“I’ve had no confirmation of EPL clubs that have expressed interest at this stage,” Gorman said.
He added: “My opinion is if there was, I would be aware of it. We speak with UBS regularly and I think we’d be aware of those organisations that have currently expressed an interest.
“This is an independent process by UBS, but I’m certainly not aware of any expressions of interest, as flattering as they might or otherwise be, from any EPL club or indeed any other club overseas.
“I think there’s an appetite out there but that’s got to materialise into groups coming forward and formalising submissions if you like or formally tabling expressions of intent.”
But Gorman also said it was a discreet process.
“I suspect we won’t be running out and saying be got three (EOIs) today, four tomorrow – it’s not that sort of process,” he said.
FFA is seeking in the vicinity of $15 million for the club which incurred a $1.5 million loss in its maiden season.
Gorman said a 50-page “teaser” was distributed globally last week to test interest in the market.
“The plan in its simplest terms is to attract the very best possible ownership group who can assure the future sustainability of the club, the retention of its current business model and many of its core aspects,” he said.
“That could take a day, a week or a month. You don’t rush to these things. The key here is to get the right outcome. So there’s no one pointing a gun at the head saying this sale must be completed by X Y Z.”
Later, City also denied the links and insisted the Abu Dhabi United Group have "no interest" in expanding into the Australian league.
"Contrary to media reports in Australia, Manchester City Football Club has expressed no interest whatsoever in the purchase of any stake in the Western Sydney Wanderers," a club spokesperson told The Daily Telegraph.
"Also contrary to reports, the club has not requested, nor has it received, any 50-page information document about the sale. The matter is not under consideration."
The formation of City's American franchise was announced in May, and will take enter MLS in 2015.
Meanwhile the club is close to triggering a 16,000 membership cap unless it can secure additional seating at Parramatta Stadium.
The surge in sign-ups has hit 15,200 with just under two months until the launch of the new season.
Wanderers have set an 80 per cent capacity cap at the home ground which seats about 20,000.
“We’re still working very vigorously with Venues NSW and the stadium to see if there is a possibility of having increased capacity before our first home game on October 20,” Gorman said.
“There are some signs there that this might be achievable – to get an extra 2,000 to 3,000 seats before that.
"And that’s week by week work. We only had a meeting yesterday with them. There are some encouraging signs but it’s certainly not across the line yet.”
Gorman added: “It is really is important that you have in place the opportunity for people to purchase tickets as well.
“While membership is a very compelling part of the business principles at a strong club you’ve also got to have the ongoing sampling experience.”