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Well worth the Kuwait - it's all change at Ebbsfleet United

PUBLISHED: 13:10 06 June 2013 | UPDATED: 13:10 06 June 2013

Peter Varney (left) gave Chris Powell his first crack at management when he helped save Charlton. Pic by Joe Giddens

Peter Varney (left) gave Chris Powell his first crack at management when he helped save Charlton. Pic by Joe Giddens

EMPICS Sport

A few weeks ago we published an article about Ebbsfleet United, a club on the brink of administration and with spiralling debts.

What a difference a few weeks can make. Unpopular owners My Football Club are no more and last week the Fleet were taken over by KEH Sports Ltd (KSL), a subsidiary of Kuwaiti European Holdings (KEH).

For some fans, it is beyond their wildest dreams, and, if the plans of Dr Abdulla Al Humaidi, the man behind the money, come true, things might get even better.

The chief executive of KEH (and the club’s new chairman) has set his sights on making Ebbsfleet a Football League club for the first time in their history, despite the fact they will compete in the Conference South next season after relegation in 2012/13.

He said: “I love football. A club of similar stature should be in the Football League and this is achievable.

“Eventually we want to build a stadium and we’ll be pumping money into the club. This is about the love of the game for me.”

Dr Al Humaidi readily admits he has no football experience, which is why he has appointed former Charlton Athletic chief executive Peter Varney as executive vice-chairman of Ebbsfleet United..

He hoped to allay fears the club will fall into the financial troubles experienced under Internet company MyFC. The Fleet flirted with bankruptcy at the end of last season with a host of unpaid creditors and players’ wages outstanding.

Mr Varney was in charge at Charlton from 1997 to 2008 before returning for a stint as executive vice-chairman from January 2011 to July last year.

He sounded a note of caution to any fans who expect Ebbsfleet to be throwing money around this summer: “I saw many similarities to when I was called in by Charlton’s new owner two-and-a-half years ago.

“Ebbsfleet is broken, just like Charlton was. I was asked to sort them out and stabilise the club and I’m hoping to do something similar at Ebbsfleet.

“We won’t be signing Carlos Tevez in the next couple of weeks but we do want to build a team that will be competitive in the Conference South next season.”

Mr Varney said that KSL put a six-figure sum into the club before the official takeover had gone through to pay creditors and players’ wages and after it was completed Mr Varney announced Fleet were debt free.

Every penny Dr Al Humaidi injects into Ebbsfleet will be as equity rather than loans against the club, increasing financial stability.

Mr Varney was still a little more circumspect than his boss on ambitions for the club.

“Can we reach the Football League? I don’t want to preach too much from the rooftops before we’ve even got our feet under the table.

“Every league is competitive but we’re certainly ambitious. I wouldn’t have got involved if KSL hadn’t been ambitious.

“I wasn’t expecting to get back involved in football. My ambition was to take over a broken club and rebuild it from scratch. Six weeks ago Ebbsfleet fans were contemplating losing their club so hopefully they’re much more positive now.”

Dr Al Humaidi, who visited Ebbsfleet for the first time last month, said: “Peter has years of experience which will be invaluable and he will lead this football club.”

The Conference South season starts on Saturday, August 17. Mark it in your diary, Ebbsfleet United could be on the up again.

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