Suffolk

Football programmes dealer Steve Earl still looking for buyer

Steve Earl
Image caption Steve Earl keeps his programmes in a two-storey warehouse, but that will not be part of the sale

A football programmes dealer trying to sell his business says potential buyers are being put off by the problem of storing its million-strong stock.

Steve Earl, 68, put his mail order firm in Bungay, Suffolk, up for sale last year so that "somebody younger" could take over.

He said there had been interest, but some potential buyers had pulled out because of a lack of storage space.

"You can't just stick them in a garage or a couple of bedrooms," he said.

Mr Earl's name will be familiar to generations of football fans through his advertisements in magazines such as Shoot! and Match.

His vast collection includes programmes from the 1950 and 1966 World Cup finals, and the 1921 and 1923 FA Cup finals.

They are currently kept in a two-storey warehouse, which Mr Earl does not plan to sell.

Image caption Clockwise from top left: The 1950 World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay; the cover of the 1966 World Cup final programme; and team photos from the final, which England won

Despite his plans to quit, Mr Earl, who had surgery 12 months ago, is still buying in fresh stock.

That includes programmes from the most recent Champions League and Europa League finals, as well as last month's Uefa Super Cup match between Liverpool and Chelsea.

Image caption Steve Earl among his "surplus" on the ground floor of his warehouse

He said he had a foreign party "keen" on the business, but they "couldn't quite do a deal".

"I have had other people interested," he said.

"The majority, as soon as I tell them the space they need, go a bit shy on the subject."

Mr Earl said someone wanted to take the business on part-time, but that he cautioned against it.

"You have to do it full-time. I said I can spend anything up to 10 hours a day at work," he said.

Mr Earl believes his business could be improved by someone who wants to sell on other platforms, away from his own "basic website".

But he said he was currently "in limbo in terms of which way to go for the best of the business".

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