A GROUP of investors led by Jim Methven, the former Cowdenbeath chairman, is understood to be in talks to buy St Mirren.
The Paisley club has been up for sale since September 2009 when a number of directors put their individual shareholdings together to create a 52% majority stake. Despite several takeover attempts in the intervening four-and-a-half years, including a protracted effort to push through a community buy-out, the group led by chairman Stewart Gilmour has been unable to move the club on. Now, though, a deal could be completed that would put St Mirren in new hands before the end of the season.
Methven was chairman of Cowdenbeath between 2008 and 2009, a period when Danny Lennon, now in charge at St Mirren, was manager of the club. There he worked with the Brewster brothers, who bought the club in 2007, with a view to selling Central Park and moving to a new custom-built facility in the town, a deal that never materialised. Methven eventually resigned citing "personal reasons".
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Although buying the St Mirren directors' stake would give the prospective new owners overall control of the club, they have chosen to increase their shareholding to 75%. To facilitate that, other major shareholders - including former St Mirren directors Gordon Scott and Ken McGeoch - are thought to have agreed to sell their stakes in the club. Although this deal is said to be nearing completion, there is still competition from a rival Swiss group who have been in negotiations to buy the club since last summer.
Methven's arrival would likely improve Lennon's chances of staying at the club. The St Mirren manager is out of contract in the summer and so far there has been no offer of an extension from the current board of directors.
Methven and Lennon were said to have worked together closely at Cowdenbeath, with the then chairman watching some of his team's matches from the dug-out. Lennon moved to St Mirren in 2010 and won the League Cup last year. This season, though, St Mirren sit second bottom of the SPFL Premiership and are in danger of being relegated via the newly-introduced play-off place.
Lennon, whose side take on Celtic tomorrow, revealed in his pre-match press conference yesterday that his personal situation was secondary in his thoughts. "It's not the first thing on my mind," he said. "The thing on my mind is preparing players to make sure the club stays in the league.
"It's been the case [about takeover rumours] since I came to the club. Whether it's hampered us - I wouldn't say it has. We've had fantastic support from the board of directors. They've made no secret that they've invested a lot of their finances and emotions into the club and now they're looking for people to come in and give it that wee boost again."