Crawley Town are on the verge of being bought by Middle East investors.

The Argus understands talks are at an advanced stage with a consortium keen to takeover the cash-strapped League Two club.

The group initially tried to buy the club – which was put up for sale in March 2013 – shortly after Christmas only for the deal to break down at the last minute.

They resurrected their interest this week and could be at today’s home game against Mansfield Town as discussions continue.

Chief executive Michael Dunford and the rest of the club’s board are understood to be leaving as part of the deal with the new owners keen to bring in their own people.

Manager Mark Yates is keen to meet with representatives of the potential new owners this week to listen to their plans for the future.

The takeover will bring to an end the successful but controversial five-year tenure of Thailand-based businessman Paul Hayward.

Hayward bankrolled a remarkable turnaround in the club’s fortunes after taking over at the start of the 2010-11 season.

He pumped in millions of pounds as Crawley rose from non-league to League One and played Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford.

Despite his significant investment Hayward chose to remain anonymous – only being known as Hong Kong Paul - until last September when he decided to reveal his identity following rumours about his business dealings.

He is officially known as the club’s benefactor rather than owner - with Matt Turner and chairman Dave Pottinger each holding 50% of the shares – but it is an open secret that Hayward calls the shots.

Hayward’s initial dream was to get Crawley into the Championship but he began to scale back his investment over the last three years.

Star players like Matt Tubbs, Tyrone Barnett, Joe Walsh, Kyle McFadzean and Izale McLeod were sold and other key members of the squad allowed to leave to reduce the wage bill.

The club also scrapped its youth academy and made a series of redundancies within the non-playing staff last year.

Reds were relegated from League One last season and are currently operating with one of the smallest budgets in League Two this year.