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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 23:14 GMT 00:14 UK
Football's fall from favour
Star player Benito Carbone in action when Bradford City was in the Premier League
Carbone is costing Bradford City 40,000 a week
More and more football clubs are likely to follow Bradford City into administration because the banks are changing their attitudes towards clubs and their debts.

In the past, football clubs have been treated differently from other businesses.

Normally, if a company's debts are considerably greater than its turnover, then the banks will push it into administration.

I think you're going to get an announcement like this one from Bradford City certainly monthly, if not weekly

Tom Cannon, Kingston Business School

Professor Tom Cannon, of Kingston Business School, said football clubs had been allowed to carry on trading even with substantial debts.

"Basically bank managers and financiers are very nervous about closing a football club down because of the bad publicity," he said.

Hard-nosed

But the climate changed when ITV Digital collapsed owing the Football League and 72 clubs a total of 178.5m.

"The bank managers will put more and more clubs into administration.

"I think you're going to get an announcement like this one from Bradford City certainly monthly, if not weekly," said Mr Cannon.

"And if the banks were really hard-nosed with football clubs you would be talking about maybe half of the Premiership clubs pushed into administration," he added.

Transfer fees

It's the lower division clubs that are most at risk.
Professor Tom Cannon
Tom Cannon says bank managers will get tough

They are seeing their gate receipts fall as young fans turn away from their local football teams and support the more glamorous Premier League clubs instead.

TV companies will no longer pay huge amounts of money to lower division clubs in order to screen their games.

And the money these clubs used to get from transfer fees has dried up.

Radical pruning

Leading clubs no longer go round the country looking to buy talented young players from other teams.

For example, last year Manchester United spent 60m on transfers, but all of that money went overseas so no English club benefited.

For all of these reasons, Mr Cannon believes that bank managers will find it increasingly difficult to allow heavily indebted clubs to carry on trading.

Neither can the Football League stand by and watch teams with financial difficulties starting the season.

"My guess is that there will have to be some pretty radical pruning very quickly.

Star player

"You cannot have a position where half a dozen clubs start the season with the possibility that they might not survive to the end," said Mr Cannon.

As far as Bradford City are concerned, the administrators will now be trying to balance their books by settling debts and selling off assets.

One of the club's biggest costs is its star player, Benito Carbone, who is being paid 40,000 a week.

The administrators will be lucky to find a buyer for him but they might be able to agree to lend him to another club.

The administrators will also be looking for a buyer for the whole of Bradford City.

See also:

16 May 02 | Bradford City
Bradford City in administration
16 May 02 | Football
Clubs in the danger zone
16 May 02 | England
Fans face credit card ban
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