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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
ITV Digital set for showdown
Bournemouth vs Notts County
Football League clubs face an uncertain future
The administrators running ITV Digital are arranging to meet the Football League to discuss the clubs' ultimatum that the broadcaster must pay up TV rights money or face legal action.

ITV Digital, which was taken into administration last week, has said it cannot afford to pay the 178m it owes football clubs as part of its contract with the league to show matches.

To lose a significant amount of income at very short notice... would be devastating for most clubs in the three leagues

Birmingham City managing director Karren Brady
Its backers, media giants Granada and Carlton, have rejected league claims they are liable for the money owed, and now face the threat of a 500m lawsuit unless the next tranche of 89m is paid to the clubs in August.

Accountants Deloitte & Touche, who are now running ITV Digital, are due to contact the league on Wednesday to arrange talks.


Football League chairman Keith Harris said: "We are committed to entering positive discussions with Carlton, Granada, ITV Digital and their administrators."

"We will negotiate over the third part of the money and seek a settlement to the mutual benefit of Carlton, Granada and ourselves."

A number of Football League clubs have warned the game faces a financial crisis unless an arrangement can be reached with ITV Digital.

Birmingham City managing director Karren Brady said: "Football clubs' player costs exceed their income, so to lose a significant amount of income at very short notice - which is impossible to gain from any other source - would be devastating for most clubs in the three leagues."

'Let down'

Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel warned his club faced "catastrophe" if it did not get the money budgeted for in the TV contract.

And Millwall chief Theo Paphitis said: "We've managed to get ourselves into a good situation, but losing television income of 2million would set us back three or four years as we'd have to cut back all round."

"We've been terribly let down by Carlton and Granada - hence the robust response to their derisory offer."

A statement from Deloitte and Touche said: "We are pleased that the Football League have agreed to negotiate over the terms of their contract with ITV Digital."

"We look forward to dialogue with the League in order to find a workable solution for both sides."

See also:

02 Apr 02 | Business
Clubs' ultimatum over TV cash
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