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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 March, 2005, 15:09 GMT
Hammam offers apology to Cardiff
Cardiff owner Sam Hammam listens to fans' chants calling for his resignation
Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam faced angry fans on Saturday and tried to apologise for the financial crisis that has thrown the club into turmoil.

Despite the shock sale of skipper Graham Kavanagh, Cardiff managed to beat visitors Sheffield United 1-0.

But even three points were unable to stop fans chanting for Hammam to step down over club debts of almost 30m.

"I have let the fans down, it is my responsibility and I intend to get us out of this problem," Hammam said.

"It's a major blow and it is tough times for the family."

Hammam admitted that the three-month delay in the construction of Cardiff's proposed new stadium nearby in Leckwith had caused many of the problems.

"Once we know when the project is going to start then we will be fine," added former Wimbledon owner Hammam.

"We're having some critical meetings with the (Cardiff) Council, we're having some critical meetings with the developer (Capital & Regional), and depending on that we will be able to provide the proper answer.

We don't want to get in a position to have points deducted
Cardiff chairman Sam Hammam

"I think we might have to take a step or two backward, it's very painful."

Official accounts released on Saturday revealed that the club's debts had reached 29.6m by May 2004.

With Cardiff having been unable to pay its wage bill of 750,000 this month and selling Kavanagh to Wigan for 400,000 on Friday, the actual debt nine months on could well be greater.

Further player sales are expected to follow, although Cardiff manager Lennie Lawrence defiantly said that the club would not be held to ransom.

"We have had a derisory offer from West Ham for (Wales defender) James Collins, which was instantly refused and no player will be leaving this club unless we receive a fair fee," Lawrence said.

However, Lawrence said on Thursday that no players would be sold before the weekend, and had to watch Kavanagh disappear to Wigan the very next day.

Collins, top scorer Peter Thorne, midfielders Jobi McAnuff and Paul Parry, plus defenders Chris Barker and Tony Vidmar could all be sold before the 24 March transfer deadline.

Crown jewel Danny Gabbidon, the stylish Wales central defender, is priced at around the 3m mark, but it is thought that only Premiership clubs - not allowed to sign new players until the end of the season - could meet that valuation.

Hammam warned that the main goal now was to avoid going into administration, which would see the team deducted 10 points and almost certainly relegated as a result.

Fellow Welsh club Wrexham were the first to suffer this points deduction under new Football League rules this season and were plunged into a relegation dogfight.

"We don't want to get in a position to have 12 (sic) points deducted and then have some team of accountants who will sack three-quarters of the staff and sell all the players," Hammam added.

"It is our duty to keep strong and to keep together."

However, that togetherness may be most tested in the boardroom, as Cardiff vice-chairman Michael Isaac and Hammam are believed to disagree over how to solve the current problems.

Property developer Isaac is thought to be willing to put a substantial sum of money into the club that would negate the need to sell any more players.

But that investment is dependent on Isaac receiving a greater stake in the club, probably a controlling stake.

Rudgwick Ltd, owned and controlled by Hammam, currently owns 83% of Cardiff City Football Club (Holdings) Ltd.

The official accounts revealed that Rudgwick Ltd received a management service charge of 583,333 for the past financial year.

Also during the year, a loan advance of 1.68m was provided by Rudgwick Ltd to the club and was "replaced" in full on 15 September 2004. Interest was charged on the loan advance at 6% above bank base rate.

As at the end of the financial year, CCFC (Holdings) Ltd owed 2.3m to Rudgwick Ltd.





SEE ALSO
Cardiff 1-0 Sheff Utd
05 Mar 05 |  Championship
Cardiff financial plight revealed
05 Mar 05 |  Cardiff City
Kavanagh hopes move 'not in vain'
04 Mar 05 |  Cardiff City
Cardiff stadium work put on hold
01 Mar 05 |  Cardiff City
Cardiff financial worry continues
02 Mar 05 |  Cardiff City
Work on stadium 'to start in May'
20 Jan 05 |  South east



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