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Ex-Haas F1 sponsor Rich Energy boss Storey trying to buy Reading FC

William Storey, the outspoken founder of short-lived former Haas Formula 1 team title sponsor Rich Energy, is working to complete a £50million takeover of Reading Football Club.

William Storey, CEO Rich Energy

William Storey, CEO Rich Energy

The Daily Telegraph reports that Storey must now pass the English Football League’s ‘fit and proper persons test’ before he can complete on Reading, who were relegated to League One (the third tier) for this season.

Reading, in the relegation zone after 11 games, were the subject of a winding-up petition from HM Revenue & Customs in June. The club fell out of the Championship last season following a six-point penalty for breaching the FL’s probability and sustainability rules.

But Storey, whose prior bids for Coventry City and Sunderland AFC (£45m) have fallen over, has now reportedly agreed terms with current owner Yongge Dail, who is facing major fan protests.

According to the Sunderland Echo, Storey claimed to have the support of “blue chip backers” while putting together a bid for the North East club but failed to provide details over his wealth when requested.

Storey, who has reposted the Reading FC X/Twitter feedback in recent days, famously claimed midway through the 2019 F1 season that the Rich Energy deal with Haas had been terminated due to the team’s poor results.

At the time, Haas sat ninth in the constructors’ championship ahead only of Williams, who Rich Energy originally intended to sponsor.

But confusion followed after Rich Energy reckoned the tweet had come from a “rogue individual”, although the partnership with Haas was ultimately ended.

Rich Energy founder William Storey watches Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-19

Rich Energy founder William Storey watches Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-19

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A brief Haas statement read: “Haas F1 Team and Rich Energy have amicably agreed to end their partnership together in the FIA Formula One World Championship with immediate effect.

“While enjoying substantial brand recognition and significant exposure through its title partnership of Haas F1 Team in 2019, a corporate restructuring process at Rich Energy will see the need for a revised global strategy.

“Subsequently, Haas F1 Team and Rich Energy concluded a termination of the existing partnership was the best way forward for both parties.

“Haas F1 Team would like to express its thanks and best wishes to the stakeholders at Rich Energy.”

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A similar saga played out after a “multi-million pound” return to racing in 2020 as Rich Energy became the title sponsor of the OMG Racing British Superbikes outfit. Storey said the team had “repeatedly acted in bad faith” as the relationship broke down.

Rich Energy did sponsor BTC Racing in the British Touring Car Championship in 2022, with the deal directly made with Storey.

The drinks company also appeared in two-wheeled motorsport last year as the title sponsor of the Rich Energy Ducati entrant that competed in the Ducati Performance TriOptions Cup.

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