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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Which clubs are in crisis?
Which Nationwide clubs have the biggest debts?
While the Premiership continues to prosper, clubs in the Nationwide League are feeling the pinch.

Leicester are in financial meltdown while Coventry and Watford are the latest to ask their players to take a pay cut, as they struggle to adapt to life away from the gravy train.

We look at the prospects for six clubs who are finding life tough outside the top.


The debt: 30m

The problem: The club have applied to go into administration in order to deal with their debts.

  Leicester today
Founded: 1884 (as Leicester Fosse)
League position: 3rd - Division One
Average home gate: 28,641
Their problems stem from relegation from the top flight, the 35m they spent on a new stadium - for which they took out a 28m loan - and players' wages.

The final straw came after being handed a 1.5m tax bill.

The solution: Players rejected a 20% pay cut, but agreed to defer signing-on fees.

Leicester have off-loaded several of their highest earning players but due to the collapse of the market, they fetched only 8.5m.

Club chairman Greg Clarke said: "While this is a severe setback, (administration) does not mean the end of Leicester.

The future: The share price dropped from 110p to 7.75p before trading was suspended.

BBC presenter Gary Lineker is behind a consortium to take control of the club. Beyond that, their future is uncertain.


The debt: 3m

The problem: Relegation from Division One and the loss of the ITV Digital money have left Barnsley with a payroll of 5m a year, other costs of 2m - and income of only 4.5m.

  Barnsley today
Founded: 1887
League position: 20th - Division Two
Average home gate: 9,846
A fortnight ago, a consortium intending to take over the club failed to secure sufficient bank funding and last week Barnsley called the administrators in.

They have been given a deadline of just eight weeks to bring a buyer in.

The solution: Administrator Matthew Dunham, who on Tuesday axed Tykes boss Steve Parkin, says, "This club needs investors to take on the expected shortfall, and we have had several expressions of interest.

"I am looking for the fans to rally round and provide the money to keep the club going, and try to avoid job cuts or renegotiations with players."

The future: "If we improve results then attendances will improve and, with that, the financial position of the club," says Dunham.

"What we are looking for is someone who will concentrate on refinancing the existing loans or take them over."


The debt: 59.6m - at the last AGM.

  Coventry today
Founded: 1883
League position: 7th - Division One
Average home gate: 14,706
The problem: High wages and a spending spree backed by previous chairman Bryan Richardson was followed by relegation.

The solution: The club have asked the players to take a 12% wage cut over the next two years that will be repayable if their financial situation improves.

The future: The board have a business plan that has been accepted by the bank and they hope the latest accounts will show the debt is down to 30m - 15m of which is in directors' loans.


The debt: 20m

The problem: Relegation from the Premiership proved a disaster due to the number of players on high wages and long-term deals. The club was late in paying the players' wages in August.

  Derby today
Founded: 1884
League position: 12th - Division One
Average home gate: 26,923
The solution: Two takeover bids by former directors of the club have failed to materialise. Mart Poom and Malcolm Christie were both subject to big-money offers but the club decided not to sell.

The future: The club appear to have got the bank on their side and have no intention of going down the administration route.

Sheffield Wednesday

The debt: 20m

The problem: The club invested heavily to stay in the Premiership and paid too many players too high wages.

  Wednesday today
Founded: 1867
League position: 21st - Division One
Average home gate: 22,004
The solution: The board has enough funds at its disposal to keep the club afloat until the end of the season, when many of the bigger player contracts come to an end.

They are also hoping to sell their training ground, which should raise 5-10m.

The future: The club believe they can keep a tight rein on the debt until the end of the season when they can dramatically slash their wage bill. Chief executive Alan Sykes has ruled out administration as an option.


The debt: Cleared

The problem: The club say they need to raise a 9.5m shortfall in revenue after the collapse of the ITV Digital deal.

  Watford today
Founded: 1881
League position: 6th - Division One
Average home gate: 11,435
The board backed former manager Gianluca Vialli with money in the hope of a quick return to the Premiership which never came.

The solution: The board will provide 6.3m, but they still need to find another 3.2m.

The players agreed to a 12% pay cut which is expected to save the club 1.3m.

The club are also hoping to release some more shares and hope to raise more money through shares and donations.

The future: The club are over the worst but administration remains a "spectre looming", according to a club spokesman.

Football analyst John Williams
"We have to look at the structure of the league"

Full analysis
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