RAIDERS TAKEOVER IS ON

Plymouth Raiders could be in fresh hands by the start of July with the outline of a deal in place to sell the club.

It is understood long-time owner Bob Widdecombe has tentatively agreed to a takeover offer from Richard Mollard and Ross Mackenzie that would see him step away from the BBL outfit at the close of a season that provided incessant drama on and off the court.

Mollard, previously involved with Guildford Heat, has had previous overtures to buy Raiders rebuffed. But with Widdecome thought to be no longer willing to maintain the present levels of investment and subsequent debt – and with the future of their present home at The Pavilions under question – a renewed approach saw informal discussions begin last month.

He, and local businessman Mackenzie, both came through the junior ranks at Raiders and with a firm package in place, a new regime looks set to be in place for next season.

“The club has been in my heart since I put on my ball boy team tracksuit back in 1983 when the club was born,” Mollard said. “I’ve known Ross for nearly thirty years having come up through the Raiders junior programme together many moons ago, and we’re extremely excited about a potential opportunity to give something back to an institution that has played a large part in shaping our lives.

“We made contact again last month, and quickly found some common ground, which has resulted in further discussions. During this time it has been a pleasure dealing with both Bob and Pat (Widdecome), and Ross and I are very optimistic that we can conclude an arrangement in the coming weeks to take a role in the club operation moving forward.”

If sealed, the move would draw a line under a tumultuous 12 months which saw the current management drop the ball by bringing in an Australian coach, Johnny White, without undertaking due diligence on a CV which was subsequently found not to match the prior experience claimed by the club.

Although Plymouth reached the BBL Trophy final in March, the showpiece came amid a late season collapse which saw them miss the Playoffs with star import Anton Grady sidelined after earning a provisional ban for recreational drug use.

MVP has learnt the head coaching role had been tentatively offered to Northumbria’s Marc Steutel – considered one of the country’s brightest coaching prospects – following an interview process that included one other current BBL playcaller.

However with a takeover in process, all hiring has been placed on hold, Mollard confirmed.

“We’re not quite in the position to talk about plans for the club until we have finalised any agreements,” he said. “However, the club is currently without a head coach and this will obviously be top of the agenda for whoever is leading the club after our talks conclude.

“Although we can’t discuss any particular names, Bob, Ross and I have been in contact with a number of potential Head Coach candidates, but it’s important the operational future of the club is resolved before any formal discussion can be held with these individuals.”

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