Anton Zingarevich 'saddened' by Reading plight

Anton Zingarevich (left) and Sir John Madejski
Anton Zingarevich (left) and Sir John Madejski

Former Reading majority shareholder Anton Zingarevich is "saddened" by the Championship club's situation, but a takeover is close, according to departing director Chris Samuelson.

Zingarevich bought 51% of Reading in May 2012 and had been due to complete a full takeover in October last year.

However, the Russian pulled out of the deal and the club have been looking for new investment ever since.

"Anton is very disappointed," Samuelson told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"He is still a big supporter of Reading Football Club. However, circumstances change, but he still feels a great warmth to the club and is very sad he did not deliver and let the stakeholders down."

Samuelson, whose exit from the board was announced this week, confirmed the club were around £20m in debt and any new owner should expect to make an initial £50m investment.

However, after receiving several "firm offers" which were turned down by the shareholders he said the club's lenders, who were now brokering a deal for Reading, were close to finalising terms.

"Reading chairman Sir John Madejski has handed power over to the lender," added Samuelson. "I hope the lender realises that the value of this club is little more than the deficit today when you consider all the parameters.

"I'm aware of one party who are producing proof of funds as we speak. They have submitted an offer with a timescale of it to be done very fast.

"They are an investment company and have substantially deep pockets. They have offered to clear the debt, buy the hotel and invest in the team so they can challenge for promotion and invest in the new training ground, Bearwood. They are serious contenders."

Samuelson also confirmed the interest of Indian businessman Mohit Burman, who is part-owner of IPL cricket team Kings XI Punjab, adding: "Whether they realise the extent of money needed to invest in Reading FC, I don't know."

Since Zingarevich became involved with the club in January 2012, Reading have been promoted to the Premier League and relegated back to the Championship.

Promotion to the top flight in 2012 earned the Royals an estimated £90m, with half of that money coming from television-related revenue, but they missed out on an immediate return to the Premier League this season.

Samuelson said their debt was "generated by the residue of being in the Premier League", and also revealed why Zingarevich had withdrawn his interest in the club.

"When Reading were promoted it had to rely on the resources it had," he said.

"It did not get any extra investment from Anton Zingarevich which had originally been expected. The only way to bolster the team was to borrow money. Loans were arranged and secured on Premier League payments.

"The hope was Anton would be able to arrange additional finance, which he said he would do. The club had hoped to move on some players which did not happen. Underneath the top tier of players the market was very dead last summer.

"Anton told me he had some issues of his own back in Russia and that is why he found himself in the awkward position of not having the money for the remaining 49% and the money to finance the team. There was a compromise agreement reached with his father Boris Zingarevich to help finance the club."