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Wednesday, March 3, 1999 Published at 18:01 GMT

Business: The Company File

Palace on the rocks

Crystal Palace: In need of professional help

The first division football club, Crystal Palace, is broke and has called in administrators.

The decision follows a meeting of its board of directors where it was spelled out that the club has debts of up to nine million pounds.

The club has plunged from one financial crisis to another since Mark Goldberg appeared to overstretch himself in spending 23m on buying the club from former chairman Ron Noades.

[ image: Ron Noades: May Ron return?]
Ron Noades: May Ron return?
More recently the former England coach Terry Venables left his position as Palace manager and former chief executive Jim McAvoy resigned from the board, reflecting concern about how the club was being run.

Out of pocket

Mr Goldberg said: "The present position is one common to a number of other clubs that have gone into administration.

"To date, all those clubs have come through administration fitter, healthier and more efficient to secure their future in the Football League."

Coach Terry Venables left the south London club when it could not afford his lucrative salary.

[ image: El Tel: Left after problems getting paid]
El Tel: Left after problems getting paid
Several star players have also had to be sold off in an attempt to balance the books, and players and staff failed to receive their wages last week.

Mr Goldberg is himself also being sued for outstanding sums which are allegedly owed to his former lawyers and public relations firm.

In fact, reports have indicated that Palace, who are struggling in 14th place in the First Division, have debts of between 7m and 9m.

Ron re-run?

And there has been speculation that Mr Noades may return to Selhurst Park.

However, Mr Goldberg seems determined to attempt to fight his way out of the crisis at the club, even though a former chief executive, Jim McAvoy, has quit the board.

Mr McAvoy said: "There is an urgent need for investment and what is now needed is for all parties to work towards a solution that would be in the best interests of the club.

"I have spoken to Mark about him substantially reducing his stake and I would hope that he sees this as a necessary part of the restructuring of the club's finances.

"Palace still have a great future but the club urgently need to be in strong hands."

Players' sale

There should be no direct effect of the administrators' arrival on the football side, although more players may have to be sold to help the club's cash flow and to reduce the wage bill.

Club spokesman Terry Byfield said: "In a certain way, this is making it a lot easier for people on the footballing field because at least now some decision has been taken and we know where we stand.

"Steve Coppell will be getting his squad together for training and moving on to our next match at Bury."

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