An investor who has offered to save Coventry United from liquidation has told Telegraph Sport it is the “right thing to do” to try to buy the Women’s Championship team.
Lewis Taylor, the chief executive of midlands-based energy company Energy Angels, is in advanced talks with the club about becoming their sole owner. Coventry United went into “voluntary liquidation” just days before Christmas, but Taylor is ready to clear the debts and invest in the region of £200,000-£250,0000 initially to ensure the club can complete the season and plan for the future.
Liquidators BK Plus have been poised to formally close down the club at 23:59 on Tuesday, 4 January, but it is understood that process can be delayed if all of the existing shareholders agree to an extension ahead of that deadline. Taylor’s offer would effectively see the club purchased for £1 in exchange for him taking on the existing debts. With Monday being a bank holiday, that leaves all parties one working day on Tuesday to try and finalise a deal at the eleventh hour, but multiple sources have said they are confident an agreement will be reached.
Taylor wants to pay the players and staff’s wages for December straight away – which, as of Monday morning, have not been paid by the club. In an exclusive interview, he said: “Sometimes we just need to go and do the right thing. It wasn’t in our financial plan this year to go and buy a football club, but at the same time, it was wrong not to when we can afford to save it.
“It was always in my long-term plan to be involved in a football club somehow, so it is a two-way opportunity: We can help and we can save this club, and we can get it onto a better footing, and at the same time I think women’s football is just going to get bigger and bigger, so the future opportunity from an investment point of view is there.
“It was clear there’s a passion from all involved at the club for it to do well, that passion was infectious. Then, when you add in the fact it’s a midlands-based club, it can be a great focal point in the UK for women’s football. I’m really keen to see women’s football do well in general, there needs to be more support for women’s football.”
Taylor is already a financial supporter of the women’s game, as his company Energy Angels sponsor Wolves Women, who are third in the Northern section of the third tier. Coventry United are 11th in the Championship after winning one of their 11 league games so far this term, sitting above the relegation zone only on goal-difference. They ran into financial difficulty after transitioning to become a full-time, professional side last summer.
“We want to play football and to get results, so the first thing is, we’ll save the club, and that’s hopefully going to generate a lot of good will from people locally and from afar,” Taylor added. “The next phase will be to reach out and start putting some really affordable packages together and we’re going to need that support from businesses itself and the community, to keep the club going. Ultimately, the vision is that we want fans and local business on board from day one, hitting the ground running.”
Taylor intends to give his full backing to the team’s manager, Jay Bradford, and believes the squad are more than capable of staying up this season. However, because the club gave the playing staff their formal notices of redundancy on 24 December, representatives of several members of the first team have told Telegraph Sport their clients are already close to agreeing moves to new clubs.
Another issue the club are likely to have to contend with, if they are saved, is the possibility of a points deduction. Depending on whether or not the Football Association deem that Coventry ‘triggered an insolvency event’, they could face a 10-point penalty.
Meanwhile, a public crowdfunded raising money for the players – who were “devastated” after being told the club would be shutting down remotely via a Microsoft Teams video call on 23 December – has passed £13,000 in donations. Their first scheduled match back after the Championship’s winter break, an away trip to Bristol City on 9 January, was called off according to a statement by the West Country club on 29 December.