Ilyas Khan says he wants the club and its supporters to only look forward after the long-running takeover saga at Accrington Stanley finally came to an end.

The deal between former chairman Eric Whalley, managing director Dave O’Neill and chairman Khan has finally gone through after two years of wrangling.

Whalley had been chairman since 1995, brought manager John Coleman to the club and helped the Reds climb from non-league into the Football League.

He agreed to sell his shares to managing director O’Neill in March 2008 but the deal was never completed.

Khan, who helped to pay off a crippling £308,000 tax debt and other HMRC debts since then, now plans to have a new share issue, handing ownership to the fans.

The Accrington-born businessman said the ownership issue had to be solved this month or the future of the club was at risk.

He said: “The club was significantly in debt and it had got to the point where the deal had to go through as suggested or the club had to go into administration.
Thankfully the former has happened and I am relieved.

“Neither Eric or Dave are shareholders anymore but Dave will stay until the end of the season. I’ve agreed to pay off the outstanding creditors which is a significant
amount, so hopefully now the club can go forward.

“Chief executive Rob Heys will continue the day-to-day running of the club. He has proved his credentials there but hopefully we will see changes elsewhere.

“For one, there has been a gap between the town and the club over the last few years and hopefully, now the ownership issue has been resolved, people will come back and support us.

“On the commercial side, we need to be able to attract more off-the-field revenue.

“We won’t have one major shareholder anymore and we need strong professional governance at the club. These, though, are longer-term aims.

“Immediately I have paid off the creditors and we need to pay the outstanding wages.”

It is common knowledge that the Reds’ wages have been late in recent times and Coleman said his players had had another ‘kick in the teeth’ on Tuesday, after the
Southend win which took the Reds into the play-off spots, when they had expected to be paid but weren’t.

Coleman said: “It is really frustrating that the players haven’t been paid and it does upset me. They were expected to be paid on Tuesday.¿

“But they have taken it in their stride and, for everything that has happened in the past six or seven months, I can’t thank the players enough,

“They have shown a different side to themselves, a great deal of determination and character for what they are going through. They have got mortgages and families to pay for and have shown a remarkable appetite and a remarkable professionalism.

“There are a lot of people who could use our players as an example of how to fight in adverse times, and maybe not moan too much, as you see players on £60,000 a week not always happy and we have got a set of lads who work for each other.”

And Khan admitted: “I can understand that John Coleman is frustrated that players’ wages haven’t been paid. The problem is we can’t resolve the ills of the last few years overnight.

“I had to pay various creditors and John and the boys are a priority and they will have their cash and be up to date soon.

“Without John Coleman and his team this club is nothing so it’s important they’re paid quickly.

“While we are late with wages, I can assure you that Rob has always put them at the top of the list. We are behind in the wages by a few days now, not months as was the case before, and we are virtually up to date with the tax bill.”

Khan meanwhile paid tribute to Whalley who led the club from the UniBond First Division into the Football League.

“It is sad that the club had to go through the trauma it has for the last couple of years but Eric’s contribution to Accrington Stanley is on the record and we should all focus on the good, not the bad. Now we just want to look forward.”

This includes also looking at contracts for players such as Jimmy Ryan, Terry Gornell and Phil Edwards with only Ian Craney still under contract in the summer and clubs rumoured to be keeping tabs on the Reds’ promotion-chasing players, who have impressed this season.

“The contracts will be discussed in the coming months and I don’t think we are any different to any other League Two club in this respect,” Khan said.
And Khan revealed that a mystery buyer came forward to buy the club earlier this week.

“A Manchester lawyer contacted me saying the had someone who wanted to buy the club now the ownership was sorted out,” he added. “I asked if he was from Lancashire and had an interest in Accrington or even if they had visited, but it was more about using the name in the Far East.

“I said the club was not for sale, simple as that. We haven’t gone through all this to sell it on.”