Terry Serepisos has days to save his ownership of the Wellington Phoenix before Football Federation Australia moves to revoke his A-League licence and hand it to a Wellington consortium known as the Phoenix Five.
Serepisos is bending under the weight of debts totalling more than $200 million and the fate of his beloved club might be taken out of his hands.
It's understood a consortium led by Rob Morrison and including Gareth Morgan, and possibly his son Sam Morgan, is ready to take over the club.
They have had detailed talks with the FFA, which feels it's time to act.
League bosses have been supportive of Serepisos, but claims coach Ricki Herbert is owed $100,000 in wages have changed the landscape. Serepisos denies owing Herbert that much but it was reported as early as last November the coach was owed wages.
Gareth Morgan confirmed he had been approached by two groups keen to keep the Phoenix in Wellington in case Serepisos "had to give it away".
Morgan said he had not paid any money to either of the groups and both groups were "in the hypothetical".
"I've been approached by a couple of groups to be the backstop but it hasn't amounted to more," he said. "I know some people have been approached who were not even soccer fans but they know it is a good thing for Wellington."
Morgan said Serepisos is seen as "a real hero" after stepping in to save the Phoenix in 2007. "He's got to be given every opportunity to see if he can do his Houdini [act] yet again."
Morgan said he had not had any discussions with the FFA.
It is understood the FFA is set to tell Serepisos his licence will be revoked unless he meets certain conditions before his next court appearance this month. One will be having a bond in the bank, believed to be in the vicinity of $2 million.
Serepisos has been steadfast in his belief a US$100 million ($120 million) loan is forthcoming from Western Gulf Advisory, a Bahrain-based company accused of being an elaborate scam.
The players' wages are apparently up to date - albeit at times a bit late and with issues about superannuation - but several people besides Herbert are out of pocket and many suppliers have refused to do any more business with the club until they are paid.
Requests through the Phoenix for interviews with Serepisos and the club's chief executive yesterday were declined.
The club still needs to sign three more players before the start of the season on October 9 to meet the A-League's minimum requirement of 20 but there is some comfort in the fact all of their season's travel is in place.
The FFA wants the Phoenix in the league and has assured fans the team will be a feature this season.
"Football fans in Wellington and across the country can rest assured that the Wellington Phoenix will compete in the 2011/2012 A-League season," a spokesman said recently.
"The FFA is committed to a 10-team competition this coming season and will be working closely with Terry Serepisos to ensure the stability for the Phoenix players and staff in the buildup to the season.
"The present situation with Terry's separate business interests presents a challenging environment for the club, but the fact remains the Phoenix have built something special in Wellington.
"With a talented coach and player group, passionate and committed fans and the supportive community, the Phoenix have a big role to play in New Zealand football."
Sam Morgan made his fortune from Trade Me. His economist father, Gareth, profited as a Trade Me shareholder. Rob Morrison is an investment banker and is on the Kiwibank board.