Everton have distanced themselves from suggestions that they are in negotiations to sell the club to a Middle East consortium.

The Goodison Park club will not formally comment on the claims, but a source close to chairman Bill Kenwright insisted that there was no truth in the speculation.

It is on record that Kenwright has enlisted the help of Keith Harris, who runs finance powerbrokers Seymour Pierce and has handled several club takeovers, to find a buyer or investor for the Barclays Premier League club, but a key associate of Harris said that the claims "were complete fiction".

The speculation surfaced on Wednesday night in an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, in which Chris Nathaniel, managing director of NVA Management, was quoted as saying he had already met club officials to outline a possible offer from a United Arab Emirates consortium.

It was also outlined that the UAE bid would include a 'football village' around the stadium.

But Everton sources point out that should they win permission for a new stadium at Kirkby in partnership with Tesco, planning applications currently being considered by the Government make no provision for such a scheme to be included.

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