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Crawley Town’s mystery backer revealed

Crawley Town’s mystery Far East benefactor has revealed himself as Paul Hayward from Northampton.

The Reds have been receiving money from an investor abroad since the 2010-11 season when they won the Conference National with a record amount of points.

However, the man who funded the club’s rise into the Football League was keen to stay out of the spotlight and was known only as “Hong Kong Paul” around the Checkatrade Stadium.

In a letter read out by Reds chairman Dave Pottinger, Hayward confirmed himself as the mystery money man.

“I’m a supporter just like you but my season ticket has cost much, much more and my experience is different,” the letter read.

“My name is Paul Hayward. I was born in Northampton. I have three wonderful children and have been married for 15 years.

“I currently co-own and manage the largest [night] life group in south east Asia with branches in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“In addition to this we manage and co-own, as landlords, the largest adult entertainment complex in the world, although we don’t manage any of the businesses inside the complex.

“Our group currently has more than 3,000 employees in bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

“Just more than five years ago, it was brought to my attention that a little non-league club was on the verge of being wound up,” the letter continued.

“The club had problems on and off the field, and had a history of bad luck at ownership level.

“I had been looking to get involved with a football club for some time but hadn’t found the right opportunity.

“I wanted to be involved with a club whose supporters had never really tasted success.

“My favourite story growing up was David and Goliath – I liked the idea of a rags-to-riches rise and taking a little club with 600-average gates to the Championship. Just for the fun of it.

“Once we had paid off all Crawley’s bills, we were offered shares of the football club but we politely declined.

“Mickey and I saw Crawley Town as an escape from high-profile lives in Asia, where we can’t buy a loaf of bread without being recognised as the ‘big club guys’. We weren’t interested in the boardroom. I prefer a burger and a pint to a prawn sandwich.”

Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

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