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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
Clubs 'to fold' over ITV Digital crisis
ITV Digital logo
The collapse of ITV Digital could see players laid-off en masse
Cash-strapped football clubs are considering plans for synchronised collapse should they be denied their finance lifeline by the failure of ITV Digital, a report has said.

Poorer clubs in England's First, Second and Third Divisions are believed to be ready to apply for administration en masse on the same day if ITV Digital is wound up.

The closure of ITV Digital would deny the Football League clubs access to 178.5m in television rights cash due by August 2003.

Some clubs reportedly believe the mass administration move would give them a legal get-out clause for many player contracts, so allowing a huge cut in wage costs, news agency PA said.

The move would also garner publicity sought by some chairmen bitter at a perceived lack of government support, and the refusal of ITV Digital's owners, media giants Carlton and Granada, to honour the 178.5m payment.

Neither club chairmen nor the Football League has commented on the report.

Bidders line up

Hopes rose on Monday that ITV Digital would survive, after administrators for the broadcaster revealed they had received 60 expressions of interest for all or part of the firm.

"They are confident they can sell the business as a going concern," a spokeswoman for the administrator Deloitte & Touche told BBC News Online.

The administrator declined to comment on reports that Microsoft was considering a bid, and would not discuss the identity of other potential bidders.

But satellite broadcaster BSkyB has lost patience with the rescue negotiations, threatening to withdraw its content unless it gets paid by the end of Tuesday.

Theo Paphites, Chairman of Millwall Football Club
"It's not a case of being able to sell players anymore, no one in the first division is going to have money to buy a player"
See also:

29 Apr 02 | Business
ITV Digital content under threat
28 Apr 02 | Business
Microsoft 'mulls ITV Digital bid'
26 Apr 02 | Business
ITV Digital wins breathing space
25 Apr 02 | Football
Chairman urges solidarity
26 Apr 02 | Business
Your questions answered: ITV Digital
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