The man trying to buy Birmingham City has said there is a strong business case for the deal as the club “belongs” in the Premier League.
Gianni Paladini, an Italian footballer turned businessman who has called the West Midlands home for decades, told the Post he has put in a bid to take over Blues along with an Italian consortium.
Mr Paladini said his football credentials are strong, having previously been chairman of Queens Park Rangers during a period which saw the club return to the Premier League after years out of the top flight.
It is thought that Mr Paladini’s consortium, which he says does not include former Formula 1 chief Flavio Briatore, put in a bid of £12 million for the club which was bought by Carson Yeung for £81.5 million three years ago from previous owners David Gold and David Sullivan.
The former Napoli youth player, who moved to Solihull aged 23 and still lives in the area, said: “We have put in a bid and we are waiting for Birmingham to agree with everything.
“The club has got great potential. Gold and Sullivan sold to these people when they are in the Premier League and there is potential there, and the fan base is big.
“It is a big club and the Premiership is the place it should be.”
Mr Paladini said the deal was in the hands of his solicitors, but confirmed a bid had been made.
It is thought that Mr Yeung, who faces trial on charges of £59 million worth of alleged money laundering in November, is holding out for about £40 million.
Mr Paladini said the other investors were in place, but they did not include Italian multi-millionaire Briatore, who was part of the team which took over QPR.
He added: “It is myself and a consortium – but it is not Flavio Briatore. People think because we are friends and we have worked together that it is him but he is not involved.
“It is myself and other Italian people. If I gave you their names you would not know them but I have talked to them about investing in England. Italians have recently invested in Watford and I have suggested that Birmingham is the best club available at the moment.
“I am a Brummie boy. I came to England at the age of 23 and I have always lived in Birmingham.
“My son and daughter are both Birmingham fans.”