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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Fans face credit card ban
Football fans
Many fans use credit cards to buy season tickets
Fans of Nationwide League clubs may be blocked from buying season tickets with their credit cards.

Barclaycard wants urgent talks over its future dealings with 26 clubs it fears may be under severe financial pressure.

The company says it is uncertain about the future of some lower division clubs in the wake of the ITV Digital crisis.

The talks come as Bradford City were forced into financial administration, a year after being relegated from the Premier League, because of cash troubles.

Oldham Athletic chief executive Alan Hardy
Alan Hardy says a ban would be a massive blow

Barclaycard reversed its decision to block season ticket sales at second division Oldham Athletic after the club said it would suffer a 600,000 shortfall.

The finance company says it cannot risk disgruntled supporters coming back for refunds if clubs go out of business because of the ITV Digital crisis.

A Barclaycard spokesman said: "At the moment clubs are asking us to lend them money.

"And while we have a responsibility to football as sponsors of the Premier League, we also have a responsibility as a business.

'Urgent talks'

"We looked at the financial situation at Oldham and it gave us cause for concern and we decided we had to take action. But it is fair to say the full implications of this were not known and we have reversed our decision in the short term.

"We have asked for an urgent meeting with the Football League to try to find a way we can make things work for the clubs, for us and the fans.

"We need to know exactly what the implications are for any clubs that go into receivership."

Normally clubs get full payment for season tickets sold at the start of the season.

'Serious implications'

But Oldham were told revenue from season ticket sales where fans used a credit card would be withheld until later in the season.

Barclaycard says other credit card companies may take a similar stand with other clubs struggling after the collapse of ITV Digital.

Oldham's chief executive Alan Hardy said: "Barclaycard's original action had very serious implications for not only us but other Clubs.

"It meant vital cash flows were drying up and putting us in turmoil.

"We are obviously delighted to have played our part in influencing a company of this magnitude to change its mind."

Malcolm Clarke, Football Supporters Association
"This means more clubs will get into difficulty"

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See also:

16 May 02 | Bradford City
Bradford City in administration
16 May 02 | Business
Football kit 'price fixing' inquiry
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