Football: Deadline extended to assist rescue bids for Palace

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The Independent Online
CRYSTAL PALACE'S administrator has extended the deadline for bidders for the financially-troubled First Division club until the end of this week. The move will allow the directors' consortium, which includes the acting chairman, Peter Morley, and the former director, Simon Hume-Kendall, three more days to finalise the details of its takeover plan.

"If someone we have been actively talking to needs another day or two to finalise, then that is not a problem," the administrator, Simon Paterson, said yesterday. Paterson had originally set yesterday as the final day that offers would be accepted for Palace after the club had gone into administration with debts of pounds 20m earlier this year.

The directors' consortium is expected to be one of three bidders. A second is likely to come from Jerry Lim, a businessman from Mauritius, and a third from an as yet unnamed American investor.

The directors' consortium has been slowed down by legal wranglings over the finances of Mark Goldberg, Palace's former chairman. Goldberg, who was declared bankrupt on Monday with personal debts of pounds 30m, lodged a pounds 3.2m deposit with the Midland Bank against Palace's debts and the fate of that money is now intertwined with bids for the club.

Goldberg's personal creditors want the money to be used to pay them, but the directors' consortium wants some of that money to be counted as part of Palace's assets. Whether it is or not will affect the detail of the directors' bid.

It remains to be seen whether Ron Noades, Palace's former owner and now the owner-chairman and manager of Second Division Brentford, will have any future role at Palace. Noades still owns Palace's ground, Selhurst Park and the directors' consortium wants him to return, but he has not yet decided if he will do so.

A fans' group, the Crystal Palace Supporters' Trust, has informed the administrator that it plans to launch a major appeal fund within the next fortnight. The Trust, which has held meetings with both Lim and representatives of the directors' consortium but is acting independently, wants to use the money to assist in Palace's rescue and to buy a stake in the club.

Richard House, one of the Trust's organisers, said: "We realise we won't have our funds in place before this week's deadline but we will continue with our efforts until the club's future is secured."

When Paterson has received all the bids, they will be scrutinised by the Football League to ensure they are feasible. The new owners are not expected to be formally in charge before Christmas, although Paterson said he was "hopeful" that Palace's problems were close to being resolved.

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