Former Port Vale owner Norman Smurthwaite says he wants to get back into football, but has pulled out of a bid to buy Wigan Athletic.
Smurthwaite was in charge at the Vale from 2012 before selling to Kevin and Carol Shanahan in 2019 in a deal worth more than £4m.
He has revealed he was interested in Wigan, and met with the club’s administrator Gerald Krasner.
However, he says he has pulled out because of the reaction from some fans to his interest and because he is unhappy with the proposed deal, not least because Wigan have just sold their training ground to Preston.
He revealed the news in an interview with Paul Kendrick of Wigan Today.
He said: “I am not buying Wigan Athletic. I do want to get back into football, but I don’t want to be swimming uphill like a salmon.”
He added: “Once I had an understanding of what Gerald Krasner wanted and the financial requirement to buy and fund the club, to between £7.5million and £10million in 18 months, I was concerned that was a big risk.
“Another reason is over the weekend I had a flavour of the abuse I might get, from some fans.
“To use an analogy, you have got a very sick individual who due to religious beliefs won’t take interventions to save him.
“That person can’t be brought back but what’s left behind are the people who cared for him.”
Smurthwaite says he has been assured that he wouldn’t be prevented from buying a football club even though it could be argued he technically still has an interest in Port Vale. He is no longer part of the club but part of his sale price is being paid in instalments.
The 60 year old has been linked to Chesterfield and Notts County since leaving the Vale. He was the subject of protests by Vale supporters and he warned the club would be put into administration unless a deal was done to sell it by the end of the 2018/19 season.
However, the club was bought by the Shanahans, who own IT business Synectics Solutions next to Vale Park.
That marked a revival in the club’s fortunes following three relegation battles. Vale challenged for the play-offs under John Askey last season. Off the pitch, 150,000 meals have been delivered to the community during lockdown thanks to the Vale community hub formed by Carol Shanahan.