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The Whites live on, says Cowan

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DOVER Athletic chairman Gordon Cowan this week told Whites fans the news they had been waiting three long months to hear - that the threat to the club's existence is over.

Ever since then-chairman Jim Gleeson and fellow director Roger Knight resigned in late October, apparently plunging the club's future in doubt, Whites fans have been left wondering whether they would have a club to support at all next season.

But Cowan insisted: “Come hell or high water the club will still be here this time next year, whether we are relegated from the Conference or not. The people here are fighters, not runners.”

Cowan scotched suggestions, however, that the club would in fact prefer to operate below Conference level, saying: “Relegation from the Conference would be a disaster financially. For example, we would have an extremely difficult time getting any major sponsorship.”

Cowan also cleared up the confusion surrounding a statement issued by general manager Bill Williams on the club's official website last week. It indicated that new owners were poised to take over, but Cowan stressed the present management committee - the so-called 'Famous Five' - would continue to control matters.

The misunderstanding was created by confusion over the words ‘investors’ and ‘consortium’, and Cowan said: “There were three options in terms of controlling the club. There were two groups of investors, one led by the Scotsman Archie Christie and the other known as the Asian consortium.

“Neville Southall was part of Mr Christie's consortium but, after they pulled out, he said he still wanted to be our manager if we wanted him.

“As for the other consortium we weren't sure if they would have been running things primarily in the best interests of the club, but perhaps would be more interested in the commercial side.”

The board then decided that they could not wait any longer and had to get on with the job. They are involved in delicate negotiations and are hoping to make a statement regarding the future of the club by the end of this week.

Talks centre on the transfer of the main shareholdings, in what Cowan called a “fair and proper way, in proportion to the people putting in money” to the new management committee: Cowan, general manager Bill Williams, new company secretary Jim Pellatt plus former directors Gleeson and Knight.

At present John Husk and his brother Alan hold the majority of the club's shares between them. Other main shareholders are Gordon Goodacre and Margate vice-chairman Jim Parmenter. Cowan continued: “We hope at the end of the day the shares will be relinquished.”

Dover Athletic's financial position has improved in recent weeks, thanks partly to the expertise of Pellatt. Cowan said: “Jim Pellett has done a tremendous job on the budget. We have also had to ship some players out because they were on too much money, and bring some in who are on less money. “

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