Patrick Cryne will only sell Barnsley to 'the right person' insists Paul Heckingbottom amid speculation that the club is about to change ownership.

It was revealed in a national newspaper this week that Chien Lee, the Chinese billionaire founder of private equity firm New City Capital, is keen to add the Reds to a portfolio of clubs which already includes a majority stake in Nice who finished third in the French top flight last season. The Chronicle understands that the consortium were given a tour of Oakwell in May, and that talks remain ongoing but there is no final deal in place. The consortium, which also includes American businessmen, has previously failed to secure stakes in Barnsley's Championship rivals Brentford and Middlesbrough.

Current owner Cryne – who has terminal cancer – is likely to retain a small percentage of his hometown club as part of the deal while the consortium would apparently provide more funds than currently available for transfers. Head coach Heckingbottom confirmed that there was 'truth' to the story after his side's derby defeat to Sheffield United on Saturday.

Yesterday he told the Chronicle: "If and when it does happen, Patrick will make sure the club goes to the right person. He's said that all along. He's shown how much he cares about the club by putting his own money in so he's not going to throw all that away. He will definitely make sure he sells it to the right person."
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Heckingbottom admitted he was not privy to the intimate details of the negotiations. He added: "It's not really my area. It's for other people to sort out. If I knew the true ins and outs and when it was going to be completed, I wouldn't talk about it. But I don't."

Heckingbottom said he could not answer questions about whether his transfer budget would increase with new owners as he did not know whether any deal would be done before Thursday's transfer deadline. But he insisted there was no danger of the speculation unsettling his playing squad.

He told the Chronicle: "I don't see how it affects the players at all. They may talk about it but it doesn't affect their job in any way shape and form. There has always been talk since Patrick came out and said he would sell the club, but only to the right person, about a year ago. When I am out and about around town people are always telling me rumours they have heard."

Cryne – who rescued the club from potentially folding more than a decade ago – has been open to selling it for some time and there have been at least two other groups in negotiations over a sale in recent years.

Heckingbottom said: "It's like when one of our transfer targets is revealed in the press, I start to get asked about it. But there will be lots of others that are going on that may or may not happen. It is the same as this (the proposed takeover). I have heard about a lot of others that have never happened."