According to tonight's Evening News, the 'King Of Deals' has walked away. That whoever Delia and Co are currently 'actively' courting, it's not the ?1.7 billion owner of Towergate Insurance.
According to today's Eastern Daily Press c12pm 'web edition', it's a case of 'Come and get me, Deals…'
Let's start with the Evening News' side of the story.
Having tried to 'give away' ?20 million once last autumn when the Championship club were five points adrift at the foot of the table and again this summer, Peter Cullum is not about to dip his toe back into those expectation-infested waters again now that the Smiths' heirs apparent – Andrew and Sharon Turner – have left the stage.
?Whoever it is, good luck to them. It's not me,” Cullum told the Evening News.
“I bowed out a couple of months ago with my tail between my legs. It was the hardest ?20 million I have ever tried to give away.
?I never wanted a seat on the board and I do not want to run a football club. I am not directly involved, but will watch with interest.?
As ever, it is a statement ripe with many an interpretation. And, indeed, heavy with questions.
To 'give away' something – in this case, ?20 million in used readies – suggests that you never wanted anything by way of return; which sits slightly oddly with his statement to the Eastern Daily Press this summer.
“I'm not prepared to put that sort of money into the club without having control,” he said.
Which always struck me is actually wanting something back for your ?20 million. Like, er, control.
Now bearing in mind the Marcus Evans model that is handily-placed on Norwich's door-step, having control and a physical seat on the board can – quite easily – be two different things.
Evans may have, personally, barely stepped across the threshold at Portman Road; that he leaves to the three Marcus Evans 'representatives' on the Ipswich board.
But there is little doubt who is in control. Marcus Evans. Says so on the front of the shirts.
Marcus doesn't 'run' the club; his suits do. Marcus is not 'directly involved' either. But he has more than a passing interest in events; as Jim Magilton may discover if Town can't win at home.
So that's one reading of that line.
The other one is far more straight-forward. It's the one without the cynical, double-spin in which we suspect all such statetments are cast – that behind Cullum's potentially innocent remarks lies a whole bank of City PR-advisors.
'Pete, let them sweat… feel the heat. Walk away. Give it the big: 'Nah, not interested any more…' Let them crawl back to you when the punters are on the streets…
'Yeh, yeh. Then drop it to ?15 mill; but let 'em suffer first…'
But you can't help wondering whether his disinterest is, actually, perfectly genuine.
Plopped his toe in the water with the ?20 million offer; thought they'd bite it off as the Canaries threatened to dive into the abyss of League One; when it all got messy and public this summer, so Cullum & Co realised just what an expectation beast would greet their arrival in Norfolk.
That having slapped ?20 million into Roeder's hands, they were then faced with the prospect of trying to keep Delia doing her 'meet & greet' routine at The Brasserie on a Saturday night – and all after not giving her a penny for her shares – plus finding someone to fill the 'supporters' rep' gig on the board… And all whilst trying to dampen down any belief that the ?20 million was just the start of the gravy train…
'Don't worry, folks, that's just the start…'
For if that's where it was planned to finish – that this was a one-off, ?20 million hit to earn control of a club that, potentially, could still find its way into the Premiership – the prospect of the faithful demanding bigger and bigger slices of your less-than-liquid ?1.7 billion personal fortune might just have sent a shivver up the old Cullum spine.
It was always intended to be a quick in and out, job done, deal signed. To have every move and sentence pored over by Press and messageboards alike was something that rarely happened elsewhere in his deal-making life; two pars in an obscure trade mag somewhere was Cullum's usual 'exposure'.
There is, of course, a third reason why Cullum's cold feet might be genuinely chilly.
He doesn't do second. Never has.
If Delia and Michael – and the rest of the board – are currently out there looking and 'actively' talking to third parties, then there is a risk that the Canaries could have two offers on the table. The other one might not be with a ?1.7 billionaire attached, but might – say – include a ?25 per share offer for each and every shareholder and, say, ?15 million for Glenn Roeder to spend. And an 'understanding' with both the banks and the Turners.
That way, Delia and Michael retire gracefully from the scene having – roughly – made slightly less from their exit than they have put in over the last 12 years; Roeder gets some significant cash to splash and Cullum – his ?20 million out-trumped in the short-term – comes second.
And he doesn't do second. That may – just may – be one, big reason he's not in the race anymore.
But, hang on, he is…
?The door was always open and it's never closed,” he told the Eastern Daily Press this lunch-time.
“The onus is on the football club to come to me. I've made a couple of approaches and I was in danger of becoming a serious irritant. On that basis I will sit back and wait…?
As will the rest of us. Sit back and wait. And wait to see whether you've made your mind up yet. Are you in – or are you out? Or are you somewhere in-between?
And as for any bank of PR suits that may lie behind the Cullum empire, they have played a blinder over the last six hours.
'Nah, nah… Pete. Keep the door open; just a little. Toy with them; remember how Marcus played it down the road; 'International Man of Mystery'… loved it, loved it… duck and dive, weave and bob.
'Keep 'em guessing; jabbin' in the dark. Who are ya? Who are ya? The King Of Deals, that's who… The King Of Deals.'