Football: Barnet beat League deadline but remain under scrutiny

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BARNET escaped expulsion from the Football League yesterday - but the reprieve may prove temporary if their financial problems continue, writes Rupert Metcalf. The newly promoted Second Division club, with debts of at least pounds 1.3m, met a morning deadline to confirm that they would fulfil their fixtures next season, but they will remain under strict scrutiny.

Gordon McKeag, the Football League president, said: 'A response was received from Barnet this morning to confirm that they will be able to honour their commitments to the Football League and, for the moment, we will have to accept that.

'But the last thing the Football League wants is a repeat of the Maidstone situation, where a club struggles through the summer to a new season and then folds.'

The north London club are to appoint a new chairman, Stephen Glynne, the head of a consortium which is providing fresh funding.

Dealing with Barnet's problems was a prelude to yesterday's Football League annual general meeting in Walsall, at which approval was given to the launch of a fund to help finance ground redevelopment. Money will be raised by a 5 per cent levy on transfer fees and a 10 per cent levy on clubs' end-of-season bonus payments.

There will be three substitutes, one a goalkeeper, in Football League matches next season. In deference to the pools companies, the League has agreed that clubs will not be allowed to switch Saturday fixtures except for television or policing purposes.

Both teams will take to the pitch together before the start of Football League matches, and clubs will put players' names and squad numbers on the back of their shirts. These two innovations will also apply in the Premier League, which held its first annual meeting in London yesterday.

Sir John Quinton, the Premier League chairman, told the meeting that the distribution of television income had been a great success: 'Every club received a substantial sum.'

Geoff Thomas, the Crystal Palace and former England midfield player, could be a Wolves player soon - if their bid of over pounds 1m is accepted. The ambitious Molineux club paid pounds 750,000 for Newcastle's David Kelly on Thursday.