A group of investors said they have finally managed to wrestle back control of a West football club – just as the Moroccan businessman who thinks he owns it claimed to have been in talks with One Direction star Niall Horan about becoming a player-owner.
A statement from a consortium of five local investors – including former co-owner Mark Winter – said they have been successful in taking legal action against Outail Touzar for ‘fraudulent misrepresentation’ in the way he took control of Salisbury City.
But Touzar then issued a bizarre statement saying he had hired an Argentinian manager, and had been in talks with One Direction singer Niall Horan about joining him in owning the Wiltshire club.
In the month since he took over as chairman of the club, the 31-year-old has claimed to have signed a Saudi prince to play in midfield, an Emirati international striker to play up front and a Swiss coach and six new players, before blaming the attempts to take back control by local business people for scuppering his attempts to attract big investors.
Since he took over a 98 per cent share of the club for just £1, the club has been relegated twice because no new money was injected to pay off debts, lost more than half its team because the players were not paid, its manager left and it now faces a winding up order from the HMRC for an unpaid tax bill.
The local businessman who brought Touzar to the club on the promise he had rich Middle Eastern backers launched a legal challenge to his ownership, and recruited a consortium of four colleagues to join him.
Late on Friday afternoon, they said they had succeeded in court, and now were back in control of Salisbury City.
“The investors and directors of club, Mark Winter, Jackie Goddard, David Phillips, Graeme Mundy and Jeremy Harwood are the collective new owners and will form a five member board to take the club forward,” said a statement from the five.
“The immediate objectives is to pay off outstanding debts and lodge an appeal to secure reinstatement into the Conference South.
“The process to find a new manager and assemble a squad of players to compete this season has already begun.
“The new board would like to reassure the clubs supporters that while this has been an extremely difficult and trying time for all concerned we will be striving to pick up the pieces and take the club forward.
“Naturally given the mess the new owners are inheriting patience, support and unity in the community is imperative if we are to meet with success. While we cannot undo the damage done in the past few months the main priority is to move forward collectively and rebuild a club we can all be proud of,” they added.
Just as the five invited fans to a Friday evening celebration drink at the club, Touzar issued another statement apparently ignoring the court ruling against him.
He said the club was in ‘advanced talks’ with Argentinian coach Sergio Zanetti, the manager of Inter Milan’s under-18 team.
Then he said he would be taking the ‘newly-assembled’ squad of players to a pre-season training camp, and was in ‘constant contact’ with the FA over an appeal to reinstate the team back to the Football Conference.
He also told fans he was trying to attract big-name investors, and had almost persuaded Irish singer Niall Horan, from One Direction, to join.
His statement said: “In addition club Chairman Mr. Outail M. Touzar would like to inform the club fans and supporters that he personally held talks recently with Global English Star and One Direction Band member Nial Horan (sic) and tried to convince him to join the club and its youngest football club owner in the world as a Player/Partner and youngest Co-Chairman in history of English football for next season and follow the footsteps of his fellow band member Louis Tomlinson who recently acquired shares on and also played for Doncaster Rovers,an offer he turned down politely citing his busy music Band schedule and loyalty to his favorite club Derby County.”