The group is led by former Argentine footballer Maxi Lopez and Argentine businessman Christian Codoma, who are believed to have been at the forefront of the bid.
Lopez made his name when he signed for Barcelona from River Plate as a 20-year-old for €6.2M, and while he only played 14 times in La Liga for the Blaugrana, a much travelled career saw him turn out for FC Moscow, Catania and Torino among others.
A search on LinkedIn shows Codoma as owner of Maxco Capital in London, and Global Managing Director of Global Stars Management, a company based in Hong Kong.
Finding information on Global Stars Management was made a little bit harder due to that company not having a website, but Codoma’s profile on LinkedIn says that they are “Sports Management Company that specialises in Player Management, Club Acquisition” among other things.
A search of the Hong Kong company registry shows that Global Stars Management names as director and shareholder Sammy Yu Wai Ying, a name that should be familiar to Blues fans.
Yu was involved in Carson Yeung’s tenure at Blues and was at one point vice-chairman although he was quick to distance himself when Yeung was arrested in 2011.
Two years ago, Yu was reported to be leading a bid for Sunderland via another HK business called Eastern Sports Management Ltd.
I met Yu in Hong Kong back in 2013 during the Yeung trial and my personal opinion is that while Yu was interesting to talk to in a bar out there, his ability to run a club might be a bit more questionable.
Another person who is thought to be involved with the bid is Matt Southall.
Southall was a controversial figure while Chairman at Charlton Athletic during East Street Investments’ brief tenure as owners.
Within two months of ESI’s takeover at Charlton, Southall was reported to have been involved with a bitter spat with ESI’s owner Tahnoon Nimer after Nimer accused Southall of using ESI money to fund “a lavish lifestyle”.
Four months later Southall was ordered to pay £21,000 after he admitted unlawfully changing the status of directors at ESI in what the company lawyer described as a “clear attempt” to disrupt the sale of the club to Manchester-based businessman Paul Elliott. The club was eventually sold to Thomas Sandgaard in September 2020.
Last year, Southall was reported to have become involved with an attempt to buy Rochdale AFC. The club has throughout its history been a fan owned club without a majority shareholder with one of the largest shareholders being the club’s supporters trust, The Dale Trust.
It emerged that in summer 2021 a company called Morton House had been approaching Rochdale shareholders to buy shares in an attempt to take over the club.
Southall was reported in September 2021 to have bought a 25% stake in Rochdale from Morton House, causing consternation among fans who called for an EGM to issue more shares to keep the club in the hands of fans.
Southall threatened a high court injunction to prevent the EGM but legal action was never taken and the motion to issue the shares was approved almost unanimously.
Last month Morton House have commenced legal proceedings against the directors of Rochdale, while Southall has written to the Dale Trust which they have taken as confirmation Southall is still involved in some way.
I will say here and now I do not believe this group will make any formal headway at all in any attempt to buy the club, for a multitude of reasons.
While some might see Yu’s involvement as some sort of connection to Yeung, I can only affirm my belief that is a huge red herring. I’m more intrigued to learn if Yu has claimed any connections to the current regime to do a deal – and how he has been taken seriously considering how he has fared since he left Blues.
Likewise, the possible involvement of Matt Southall gives me the shivers. His tenure at Charlton was considered disastrous by fans and it’s clear from the way Rochdale fans are talking Southall is not a welcome face at Spotland.
However, the most important factor is the lack of desire from the owners to sell the club. My own contacts both in the far east and in London have repeatedly confirmed that this hasn’t changed in any way recently.