TRANMERE Rovers have announced new owners after Mark and Nicola Palios took a controlling interest in the club after reaching an agreement with current owner Peter Johnson.
Mark, who is a former chief executive of the Football Association, made more than 280 appearances for the club in two spells at Prenton Park.
He said: “We are both aware of what a privilege it is to have the opportunity to become involved with this club, but it is important that we pay tribute to the support that Peter Johnson has given over many years.
“All Tranmere fans are well aware of his massive contribution to the club, a support that is ongoing, and in order to mark his dedication and support we will be consulting with our fans on the best way to do that.
“There is a big job to be done to get the club back in the higher divisions and get the facilities back up to scratch. In the coming weeks and months we will share with you our plans on how we intend to make it happen.
“We have no illusions about the difficult environment in which lower league clubs operate but we have exciting ideas to ensure Tranmere thrives in the future as a successful and vibrant community club which is capable of sustaining itself without being reliant on a benefactor.
“My playing days for the club were fantastic, my manager was the legendary and inspiring figure John King and I hope that we can bring some of his spirit, determination and personality back into the club.”
Mark will become executive chairman of the club with Nicola as vice-chairman, while Peter Johnson will remain a shareholder, director and become the club's honorary president.
Nicola said: “Peter Johnson has shown incredible generosity to Tranmere over many years, and particularly by writing off his past loans to give a solid financial base for the upcoming season.
“We aim to reward his loyalty by ensuring the club’s legacy for the future.
“Mark always told me Tranmere Rovers was a warm, friendly, family club and that is exactly what I have found since we first started talks with Peter.
"I am sure the coming weeks, months and years will be challenging, exciting and ultimately successful.”
Peter Johnson said: “I have been looking for a safe pair of hands to ensure the club’s future.
“In Mark and Nicola I have found that. As a local lad who played for the club, and a former chief executive of The FA with a successful commercial track record, Mark is uniquely placed to help lead Tranmere to a bright future. Nicola is an accomplished lawyer and businesswoman.
“Between them, they have the passion and the experience to take the club forward and I am looking forward to working on the board with them.
"Finding this mix of football and business skills is highly unusual."
Mr Johnson took control of the club in 1987 after Tranmere Rovers had been placed into administration.
He appointed Johnny King as manager and saw Tranmere Rovers twice win promotion to secure a place in the Championship.
During this period the club narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League on three successive seasons, losing out in the play-offs on each occasion.
Wembley became a second home to Tranmere Rovers during Mr Johnson's time in charge. They played at the national venue when qualifying for the Football League Centenary Competition in 1988 and four more visits to the famous stadium followed.
In 1990 they won the Leyland DAF Trophy and lost in the play-offs, whilst in the following year they reversed those results and won the play-off final, but lost in the Leyland DAF Trophy final.
They also reached the League Cup final in 2000, where they were beaten 2-1 by Leicester City.
The new owners arrive at Prenton Park with current knowledge of the world of sports administration.
Mark is currently a non-executive director for the British Judo Association and a member of the audit risk and governance committee at Surrey County Cricket Club.
Nicola has 24 years of experience of commercial law and international financial services.
She was previously chief executive of the Mourant Group, one of the world's largest off-shore law firms and fiduciary services businesses, and is currently a non-executive director of British Rowing and a cutting edge technology company.
Tranmere’s chief executive Jeremy Butler believes having Mark and Nicola’s experience in sport, commerce and law at the top of the organisation is crucial if Rovers are to thrive.
He said: “Mark and Nicola have the knowledge and contacts required to help Tranmere Rovers take the next step towards becoming a self-sustaining football club.
“Their business experience will strengthen the board, and their ideas for the club are sensible and exciting. I am looking forward to working with them."
During a press conference at Prenton Park this morning Rovers' manager Rob Edwards said Palios' arrival heralded a fresh start for the club.
He added: "I think it's good for the club and I think the club needs to move on. It's time for a fresh start.
"As long as we are on the same hymn sheet everything should be okay. He has plans for the club, but we will have to wait and see what they are.
"I met him on Saturday and was very impressed. He's been around football for a long time and has the club at heart."