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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Clubs in the danger zone
Bradford chairman Geoffrey Richmond
Bradford chairman Geoffrey Richmond
As Bradford City go into administration, it appears that the collapse of ITV Digital has left many Nationwide League clubs in trouble.

But how serious is this "crisis"? Estimates vary wildly, with some people predicting as many as 30 clubs going out of business - and others saying no team will go under.

BBC Sport Online's Dan Warren profiles 10 of the clubs who could be in danger if the 180m owed by ITV Digital fails to materialise.


Bradford City

Bradford City chairman Geoffrey Richmond says estimates of 30 Football League clubs going bust are over the top.

Nevertheless, Richmond announced that administrators had been appointed by the High Court to take on Bradford's increasing financial problems.

Bradford will undoubtedly be hit hard by any loss of their 3m annual TV revenue.

They have many players who were involved when the Bantams were in the Premiership. Their wage bill remains high, especially after Middlesbrough's decision not to buy big-earner Benito Carbone.


Crystal Palace

Trevor Francis recently spent 3m bringing Ade Akinbiyi, Kit Symons, Curtis Fleming and Danny Granville to the club.

But although millionaire chairman Simon Jordan continues to bankroll the club, Francis does not have a limitless supply of money available to him.

Budget tightening prompted him to axe five youngsters from the squad this week.


Nottingham Forest

Forest's shares have been suspended since 3 December last year, after they decided not to publish their accounts for six months to May 2001.

Their last published figures revealed the former European Cup holders were losing around 100,000 per week.

Forest's 3m slice of the TV cashpot represents around one-third of their income, and after offloading stars such as 5m Jermaine Jenas, they have few saleable assets left.

"Our relationship with ITV Digital is significant to the club as a business," warned finance director John Pelling.


Sheffield Wednesday

The Yorkshire team is reported to have debts of around 15m, and Wednesday chief executive Alan Sykes told the Owls' official website that Wednesday needed the ITV Digital money.

"Any potential loss of income will force the club to further reduce its costs, specifically in relation to the size of our squad and the value of the contracts we offer in the future," he said.

But despite the club's financial position, Sykes insisted the Owls would not be forced into administration.


Watford

Hornets' chief executive Tim Shaw angrily denied that Watford could face bankruptcy if they lose their share of the TV money.

Watford receive around 3m in TV cash annually - around 20-30% of their turnover.

But on Watford's official website, Shaw said: "The directors of this football club - to a man - will ensure that Watford continues to trade."

But manager Gianluca Vialli will have no transfer funds for next season.


Bury

Of all the clubs in the football League, the Shakers position appears the most shaky.

The future of the 117-year-old club already lies under a cloud, as the board bids to raise 400,000 by the end of the season to pay off a 1.3m mortgage repayment.

The ITV Digital cash is worth about 300,000 per season to Bury. It is money they can ill-afford to lose.

"To lose this money would be a real kick in the teeth," said commercial manager Peter Young.


Chesterfield

Cash-strapped Chesterfield have been living an austere existence after fans stumped up vital cash to save the club.

But just as they appeared to be turning the corner, the Spireites' annual TV cash payment of 300,000 - around 15% of the club's turnover - is under threat.

Angry that fans' hard work could amount to nothing, commercial director Phil Tooley urged supporters to boycott ITV's prime time shows like Coronation Street, Blind Date and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.


Notts County

The football league's oldest club is undergoing some of the rockiest times in its history.

Since the start of 2002, County have been temporarily placed under a transfer embargo, and also came close to being placed under administration.

But Notts County owner Albert Scardino insisted his club would survive, even if they do not receive all of their TV money.


QPR

QPR have been in administration since last April, but Rangers' situation is less bleak than it first appears.

A 10m rescue package is close to being agreed, and Rangers' cost-cutting since being placed in administration could leave them in a healthier position than many wealthier rivals.

The wage bill has been cut from 3m to 1.8m - about 27% of the club's turnover - much lower than many of their rivals.

Rangers' can also expect extra income when Fulham rent their Loftus Road ground next season.


Swindon Town

Swindon's decision to go back into administration this week suggested that Andy King's side had serious financial problems.

But the Wiltshire club's financial position is slightly unusual.

Majority shareholder Sir Seton Wills has the money to pay off the club's immediate debts - believed to total 1m.

But he has been reluctant to invest because of the 1.2m debenture held against the club by two former directors.

Links to more Football stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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